Midland Valley High’s band hosted its annual Mustang Classic festival on Saturday, with Silver Bluff’s Silver Spirit Band taking first place in the AA competition.

Silver Bluff also won awards for horn section, drum major and percussion. The other Aiken County school participating in the event was South Aiken High, which has a new band director in Neil Nelson. He arrived at the school just a week before band camp in late July.

As the host band, Midland Valley performed only for a rating.

“It was challenging to perform after our students worked all day for the festival,” said Midland Valley band director David Hastings. “They got to perform in a noncompetition and still got the same comments from the judges.”

The Mustang band show is called “Payback” and it’s significantly different, Hastings said.

“We’re trying to get into he 21st century with electronic instruments and heavy sound effects, as well as strings and percussion,” he said. “It’s been really interesting to work on.”

Silver Bluff director Kristin Brown said the band presented its show after Friday night’s homecoming game.

“They performed terribly then,” she said, “but they did much better Saturday. We didn’t know all the music in the third movement, and that probably cost us the Grand Championship award (which went to Greenwood High). Everybody was excited about the AA win, but we still have to keep getting better.”

The South Aiken band members have been working hard throughout the season, said Nelson.

“I’m really proud of the kids,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of extensive rehearsals, and this is the first time coming to a competition and getting to experience that. That will help prepare us for the rest of the year.”

The drum majors for the bands are Jere Phiniezy, Silver Bluff; Kenna Hale, South Aiken; and Cameron Driver, Midland Valley.

All three bands will participate in North Augusta High’s “Savannah Across the River” festival on Oct. 13.