Our Story

A long road in the desert.

 
 

We’ve always done it different. We play to be remembered.

 
 

Our Founder

 
Brian Howeverton (center), Kyle Bissantz (left), John Speas (right) at WGI World Championships 2015

Brian Howeverton (center), Kyle Bissantz (left), John Speas (right) at WGI World Championships 2015

Brian Howerton has been the Executive Director of the Vegas Vanguard since he founded the ensemble in October, 2004. Mr. Howerton is also the instructor and arranger for marching percussion at The University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) (08-current). He has been the Director/Arranger of percussion in Las Vegas Nevada at: Cheyenne HS (1997- 2000), Foothill HS (2000-2002), Palo Verde HS (2002-2005), Spring Valley HS (2005-2010) and Las Vegas HS (2010). He was the founder of the indoor percussion ensembles at Foothill HS (2002) and Palo Verde HS (2003-04). 

Vegas Vanguard Percussion Theater is an indoor competitive ensemble based in Las Vegas and gives students in Clark County the opportunity to participate in a highly educational/competitive percussion ensemble. The group began competing in the PIA Class in WGI in 2006 and has received at least 1st place in a WGI Regional every season. The ensemble also participated in the SC-PA Circuit receiving the Gold medal at the circuit Championships in 2006 and 2009, and the silver medal in 2007 and 2010. Recently the group placed 3rd at WGI World Championships in Dayton, Ohio in the PIA Class in 2011 and 2012!! Brian is in his second year as a member of the WGI Percussion Advisory Board. 

Brian is also the Executive Director/Founder/Arranger/Performer with the Vegas Vanguard Entertainment Drumline (VVED) since organizing the ensemble in October, 2006. VVED has performed for such artists as Keith Urban, Floyd "Money" Mayweather, Paris Hilton, Justin Timberlake, Gene Simmons, Joe Jackson, Toni Braxton, and Shaquille O'Neil. VVED was featured at every UNLV Men's Basketball pre-game show at every home game for the 07/08 season. They also performed on stage at the Latin Grammy's in November 2010 with Enrique Iglesias, his music was featured at the American Music Awards for the Enrique performance of "I Like It", and during the Halftime of the NFL Game between the Dolphins/Cowboys game on Thanksgiving. VVED has been featured on television shows such as Gene Simmons Family Jewels on the A&E Network. Brian arranged and performed at the EDC Festival in Las Vegas in June, 2012 with DJ Thomas Gold. VVED performed with American Idol winner Phillip Phillips at the NASCAR awards banquet in December, 2012. 

Mr. Howerton was a member of the UNLV 1995 Indoor Percussion Ensemble that competed at PASIC, the 1996 UNLV Indoor Percussion Ensemble that placed 4th at the WGI World Championships in the Independent World Class, and a performer/staff for the 1997 UNLV Indoor Percussion Ensemble (Compline), winning the WGI College Class World Championship in 1997, all under the direction of Brian S. Mason. 

While attending The University of Nevada Las Vegas, Howerton performed in the marching percussion section of the UNLV Star of Nevada Marching Band from (1994-1999) and received his bachelor's degree in Broadcast Communications and Criminal Justice. 

Brian has been a clinician for the Nevada Percussive Arts Society Day of Percussion, an adjudicator of percussion at local marching band and indoor drumline competitions, and an instructor for the Yamaha Sounds of Summer Drumline Camp. 

In October, 2009 Mr. Howerton organized "The Individual and Ensemble Percussion Festival", a competition, which featured several high school marching band percussion ensembles, drum set, battery percussion soloist. It also included a clinic by Scott Johnson from the Blue Devils Drum and Bugle Corps. 

Brian started a percussion camp in 2010 in conjunction with the Student Leadership Clinic, offering Clark County students with the opportunity to attend a weeklong percussion camp at a lesser cost of other camps. The camp focused on teaching fundamentals, techniques, sound quality, marching, visual elements in marching percussion, and drum tuning. Website www.studentleadershipclinics.org 

Mr. Howerton is on the percussion staff of the Academy Drum and Bugle Corps as a tenor tech (2011-12), and now as a bass drum tech (2012-current). 

Brian Howerton is a proud marching percussion artist and endorser with The Pearl/Adams Corporation, Remo Corporation, SABIAN Ltd., Randall May International, StickTape.com, and Innovative Percussion sticks and mallets. 

 
 
 

Our Timeline

 

2004

Vegas Vanguard is Founded by Brian Howerton in Las Vegas, Nevada
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2004 – 2005
“Man vs. Machine” 

Featuring the music of the band “Tool” (song called Forty-Six and 2) and “Machine” by William Bolcom. Music arrangements by Brian Howerton and drill design by Brian Howerton and Jermey Gill. Performed locally in the color guard circuit, as there was no local percussion circuit in Las Vegas. The ensemble consisted of high school students from Palo Verde HS, Basic HS, Chapparel HS, and several post-secondary students.
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2005 – 2006
“5 Stages of Grief”

Vegas Vanguard’s first competitive season, featuring the music of UNLV Professor of Percussion, Dean Gronemeier. Battery parts arranged by Brian Howerton, and drill design by Brian Howerton. 5 Stages of Grief was about the citizens of the United States going through the various stages of grief after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. This show was performed at the Nevada Day of Percussion for Dean Gronemeier and Ronnie Vannucci Jr. of the Killers. The production received 1st and 2nd at WGI Regionals, won the Gold medal at SC-PA Championships as the first Independent A Class Ensemble to attend and win SCPA Championships.
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2006 – 2007
”Oceans 11”

Featuring the music from the original motion picture soundtrack, as well as Elvis Presley song “A Little Less Conversation.” This season marked the largest ensemble to date with 19 battery and 10 front ensemble. The production followed the basic story line of members trying to break into the vault at the Bellagio to steal the money. The show received 1st place at two WGI Regionals and placed 2nd overall in SC-PA Championships in the PIA Class.
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2007 – 2008
”Trapped”

Featuring original music from Brian Howerton and Justin Truitt based on the movie Saw. The production also included some music from the Bourne Trilogy movie series as well as Saw itself. The story line followed that of members trapped in a room and had to escape before the oxygen ran out. Yes, we had someone running around with the Jigsaw mask on…and all the members “died” in the end.
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2008 – 2009
”Battle of the 4 Storms”

Featuring music from the movie Kung Fu Panda, Kung Fu Hustle, and original music by Brian Howerton and John Speas. Storyline follows that of members battling the 4 different storms of “Lighting”, “Thunder, “Wind” and “Rain” using a colorguard soloist as the main character. This production was Vegas Vanguard’s first-ever use of a sampler. The production placed first in two WGI Regionals in the PIA Class and placed first at SC-PA Championships.
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2009 – 2010
”Infected”

Featuring original music by Brian Howerton and John Speas. Storyline followed that of an experimental drug that went horribly wrong, turning the members into zombies, loosely based off the movie Resident Evil. Of course, we had a girl in a red dress like the main character of Resident Evil. The production additionally included the song “Mad world” as the vehicle for the ending of the show whereby the battery members literally ate the front ensemble members alive as while the main character turned into a zombie. This show received a score of 94 at local championships with a standing ovation. Infected received first place at two WGI Regionals and placed second at SC-PA Championships in the PIA Class.
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2010

2010 – 2011
”For Honor And Glory”

This season marked Vegas Vanguard’s first trip to Dayton Ohio for WGI Championships. Featuring music from Box-Six titled “Strength and Honor" with drill design by Ike Jackson. Storyline followed that of gladiators attempting to win back their freedom by fighting in the arena. This show marked the first time Vegas Vanguard used sample to trigger famous movie material for the sake of storytelling. Our center snare, Ryan Lindquist, was rushed to the hospital the day after the ensemble performed in finals, and was flown to Ohio University for emergency heart surgery, he had a 10% chance to live. He stayed in Ohio for a month before flying home a survivor of a very scary ordeal and lives happily with his wife, Carolina. Vegas Vanguard placed first in both WGI Regionals they attended, and placed third at WGI World Championships with a score of 92.138, their highest score of that season in the PIA Class. After prelims, the ensemble was slotted in 5th placed and ended up jumping two spots to grasp a bronze medal on finals night. (Video link https://youtu.be/chnFev6rApg)
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2011 – 2010
”Anarachy”

Vegas Vanguard’s second trip to Dayton for WGI Championships. Featuring the music from Box-Six titled “Bound” with drill design by Ike Jackson. The storyline followed that Americans waking up and being tired of a corrupt government. Wanting to fight back, they wore the iconic Guy Faux masks from the movie V For Vendetta. A memorable, key moment in the show was a protest section where one of many signs garnered the phrase "Extend Age-Out” which was well received every show! WGI wasn’t amused. The production placed first in both WGI Regionals the ensemble attended that year, and placed third at WGI Championships with a score of 91.175 in the PIA Class. (Video link https://youtu.be/mEJ17YLt4Zk)
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2012 – 2013
”AScend”

Vegas Vanguard’s third consecutive trip to Dayton, OH for WGI Championships. Featuring music from 3 different Box-Six shows with drill design by Ike Jackson. The storyline followed that the tragedy of the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger. The ensemble wore actual flight uniforms from NASA—exact replicas that the crew of the Challenger wore. The Challenger was the first space flight that featured a teacher that was selected through a process. Former director and founder, Brian However, state that “I lived through that tragedy, so it had a unique place in my heart…also my Mom was a teacher that applied to go on that mission,” as it was the first NASA mission to invite educators for application to join the mission.

The beginning of the show featured a countdown all the way to the launch, what most people didn’t know is that was the actual countdown recording procured from NASA. The launch of the shuttle in the production was timed precisely to match the exact moment when the Challenger perished. The actual Breaking News audio by Dan Rather was sampled immediately following the the explosion. This season marked the last year competitive circuits allowed sound samples without copywriter permission.

Vegas Vanguard placed first in both WGI Regionals they attended that season, and scored 93.538 at WGI Finals—highest mark in Vegas Vanguard’s history—placing 2nd, receiving the Silver medal. This show also featured Ryan Lindquist (the center snare who cheated death in 2011) in the pit, as he could no longer carry a drum. (Video link https://youtu.be/AfdMowmRWUM)
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2013 – 2014

Vegas Vanguard did not floor an ensemble for the 2013-2014 competitive season.
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2014 – 2015
”The Native Path”

Featuring original music by Bryan Harmsen at Visaudio with drill design by Ike Jackson. Storyline followed that of the Native American belief of various spiritual animals that guide one’s life. The animals were “Snake”, “Bear”, “Eagle”, and “Wolf.” Great care was taken with regards to costuming and appropriation of the imagery relative to Native American culture. Many individuals of the Paiute tribe in the Vegas Valley were consulted for assurance that our performance maintained a reverence for beautiful heritage that the show embodied. Vegas Vanguard was promoted at the WGI Western Power Regional in San Bernardino, CA to PIO. The production, however, did not earn a finalist placement at WGI Championships in Dayton, OH.
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2015 – 2016
”BALANCE”

Featuring original music by Bryan Harmsen from the show Ninja with drill design by Ike Jackson. The storyline followed that of how Tai Chi controls one’s life and how it brings Balance to everything one does. Vegas Vanguard members had the privilege of working with a Kung Fu / Tai Chi master from the Shao Lin Temple in China this season. This marked Vegas Vanguard’s second year in the PIO class, placed 1st at two WGI Regionals and place 2nd in PIO Western Championship Finals. The production earned a place in semi-finals with a score of 85.9 but did not make the finals cut that year.
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2016 – 2017
”The Wharf”

Featuring original music by Bryan Harmsen and Brian Howerton with drill design by Ike Jackson. The Wharf was a story of the classic “mob shakedown” where a poor fisherman on his dock was harassed to a breaking point in order to accept the mob’s “protection…for a price, ya see.” This production was the most prop-heavy show in Vanguard history with a full length backdrop, a ramp, and an entire riser system in front of the front ensemble upon which solos and theatrics were performed. The music was loosely based on the themes from On The Waterfront and was one of the more Front Ensemble book’s the ensemble had up to this point. 2017 marked Vegas Vanguard’s third year in the PIO class, receiving medals at two WGI Regionals and Western Championship Finals.
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2017 – 2018
”sANE”

Featuring original music by Kyle Bissantz and Brian Howerton with drill design by Ike Jackson. sANE marks the first collaborative composition effort made by Vanguard staff since 2009 in producing an original show. Using original melodic themes, an adaptation of Rachmaninoff’s Liebeslied, and (most notably) Trent Reznor’s Hurt, the show took its audience through the journey of a false perception of sanity. This production utilized modified straight jackets, real restraining masks, and some of the most demanding theatric-to-drumming applications the ensemble had been expected to execute. Vegas Vanguard returned to the PIA class this year and earned 8th place in WGI World Championship Finals with a 90.76.
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2018 – 2019
”Curtain CAll”

Featuring original arrangements by Kyle Bissantz and drill design by the entire Vanguard staff (Erika Hill, JR Aguilar, James Cordero, and Ryan Perez). Curtain Call presented the experience of one’s final performance but from the perspective of a very overlooked profession: clowns. However, the clowns depicted were of the vaudevillian era from the days of traveling circuses and the “hobo clowns” performed by the greats such as Judy Garland, Buster Keaton, and Red Skelton. Music was the driving force of Curtain Call and rendered the most challenging Front Ensemble book in the program’s history. Using themes from The Carol Burnett Show, Charlie Chaplin’s Smile, and Stephen Sondheim’s Send in the Clowns, the production was a touching look at letting go of a profession you hold so dear. 2018 marked Vegas Vanguard’s first year under the direction of Kyle Bissantz and took home 1st place at SCPA Championships with an 84.6.
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2019 – 2020
” ? “

Information coming (not so) soon…

2020

 
 
 

What the future holds.

 
 

coming soon...

 
 
 
 

Help us get there.

 
 
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