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Saturday, September 22, 2018

Band on the Road Game of the Week - 2018 Week 4

You actually won't find this week's matchup on the Band on the Road spreadsheet. After all, it features an FCS program and Group of Five school. Still, the pairing has some significance.

Texas Southern's Ocean of Soul will be traveling the mere mile to Houston's TDECU Stadium to take on the Spirit of Houston. Given the proximity of the two schools, the Ocean of Soul is forgoing bus contracts and getting there the best way they know how - by marching.

The two bands have actually shared a pretty high profile stage before. During Super Bowl XXXVIII, which took place in Houston's [then] Reliant Stadium, the two bands teamed up to step off the halftime show. Their performance was overshadowed by the Justin Timberlake-Janet Jackson controversy.

Friday, September 21, 2018

High Notes - 2018 Week 3

I'm going to use Week 3's high notes to instead put a spotlight on the state of North Carolina. Here in Greensboro, I spent from last Wednesday through the weekend in some state of hurricane preparation or readiness. From a standpoint so unimportant that it wouldn't warrant a mention if it weren't the point of this site, every college football game after Wake Forest-Boston College on Thursday evening was canceled. While we were thankfully spared the full brunt of the initial forecast, the weather we did get, and Florence's offensive woes and inability to advance left her dumping a reported eight trillion gallons of water onto the Old North State. It will take a long time for points east of here to recover.

If you wish to donate to the hurricane relief efforts, you may do so here.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Band on the Road Game of the Week - 2018 Week 3

If this week were going as planned, we might see West Virginia playing in North Carolina take the honor yet again. the Pride of West Virginia was scheduled to play at NC State, but that game, and all other in the Carolinas, was cancelled due to Hurricane Florence. Gone too is the Down East Viking Classic, which would have pit Winston Salem State against Elizabeth City State.

Of the games that remain, this weekend I'm flagging Temple's Diamond Band, as they travel down to College Park to meet the Mighty Sound of Maryland in a Cresap's War redux. The two bands will join forces to celebrate the life of Leonard Bernstein, who spent time in Philadelphia at the Curtis Institute; his work opened the Kennedy Center in DC.

High Notes - 2018 Week 2

I decided a few year ago I'm opening the playbook on High Notes beyond just the week's marching band action.

This past weekend, I attended the North Carolina Folk Festival. Greensboro was home to the National Folk Festival for a triennium, and when its stint was over, the city saw fit to keep the party going in the form of the NC Folk Festival. An annual scheduling conflict kept me from experiencing the National Folk Festival much when it was here, but with that out of the way, I was pleased to take in a couple of days of the NC Folk Festival this year.

The NC Folk Festival was headlined and curated by Rhiannon Giddens, a Greensboro native MacArthur "Genius" fellow, and talented folk, bluegrass, and old-time musician. I've had the pleasure to see her perform numerous times over the past few years, and caught her twice during the folk festival. Should you see her on a bill near you, I urge you to seize the opportunity.

That said, a quick on-brand note as it relates to the folk festival: Just as I've opened the playbook for High Notes, so too has the folk festival in the past, describing folk as music with authentic national/ethnic roots and casting its net such that Grandmaster Flash headlined the national festival a few years ago. To that end, I'll note that as the American college marching band in general, and the HBCU marching band specifically, is a uniquely American institution, there's no reason we shouldn't see Greensboro's own Blue and Gold Marching Machine from North Carolina A&T State University at future festivals.

Modern Southern Style

Ask a college football fan about regular season neutral site games, and you're likely to get mixed reaction. Nearly everyone respects the mainstays: Texas-Oklahoma in the Red River Shootout in Dallas, or  Florida-Georgia in the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party in Jacksonville (neither of which like being called that). But be it ever so humble, there's no place like home, and many would prefer to see the often high-profile matchups that are reserved for neutral site games observed as home-and-homes, where the cadence of gameday literally marches through campus.

I can understand this - if only in theory. I went to USF, where all of our home games are played in an NFL stadium, so I don't have the same attachment to campus on fall Saturdays. Lacking that nostalgia, I find the season kickoff neutral site games exciting. The bowl game/classic atmosphere is almost always a two band affair, with plenty of festivities surrounding it. Several of the major indoor stadiums - Atlanta, Arlington, and Houston - have been hosting for years. Charlotte joined the fray a few years ago, as did Orlando, with a pair of games that don't seem to be going anywhere, and I'm here for them.

During 2018's opening weekend, I headed to to Charlotte to soak in the festivities of the Belk College Kickoff. This year, the game pitted Tennessee against West Virginia. They couldn't have asked for a better matchup.

Charlotte sits at the crossroads of the Carolinas, with Bank of America Stadium sitting a scant dozen miles from the South Carolina border. The Belk Kickoff formula to this point has been an interstate matchup, with South Carolina taking on UNC and NC State. Of the scheduled games to come, seven of the eight teams will hail from the Carolinas, with Notre Dame being the outlier. I don't know what made them stray from this formula, but it was a strong move and one they ought to go back to. Both teams and fanbases, and especially the combination thereof, made for a great gameday atmosphere.

Despite numerous geographic and cultural similarities, Tennessee and West Virginia had never met before this season's matchup. Charlotte provided the venue that brought the two together. Country Roads vs. Rocky Top. Two football and tailgating crazed fanbases descended on every corner of the city in a game I'm sure was lucrative for all involved. The gate showed it - 15,000 more spectators than the next closest game. Because they weren't making quick day trips from Columbia, Chapel Hill, or Raleigh, I'm sure they sold hotel rooms as well. And I'd wager the NASCAR Hall of Fame made out alright that weekend.

True enough, Charlotte's not one of the shiny new domed stadiums the NFL boasts; nor is it a subtropical location and perennial bowl destination with the Happiest Place on Earth down the street. But in my opinion, the city's been selling itself short by sticking to Carolina matchups. Charlotte's got a lot (its Convention and Visitor's Bureau would commend me for saying) and if they're not otherwise seeing themselves as a destination, they should be. Loyalty to the bi-state region you call home is one thing, but it's also convenient to the entire South Atlantic. With that in mind, I've been trying to think of other matchups with a similar cache for a Charlotte matchup. Anyone want to try UGA-Virginia Tech on for size in a future year? I think it would do damage.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Band on the Road Game of the Week - 2018 Week 2

In a rivalry that sat dormant for more than a decade and a half after the turn of the century, Penn State and Pitt are back at it. This year, the game is in Pittsburgh, and the Blue Band will make the 135 mile drive for a spats on spats matchup with their in-state rival/not rival in Pitt's Varsity Marching Band.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

High Notes - 2018 Week 1

As with the Game of the Week, seeing it in person has its privileges. This week's High Notes goes to the Pride of West Virginia.

I actually caught the Pride about 30 minutes to my west, at Mount Tabor High School in Winston-Salem. Mount Tabor's principal is a West Virginia alumnus (and an unconfirmed overhearing in the stands led me to believe they couldn't get enough hotel rooms down in Charlotte the night before the Belk Kickoff Classic) and WVU performed at halftime of their game, bringing me to my first high school football game in a decade. WVU performed from their spy show, as well as some of their spirit mainstays, including Country Roads. This wasn't my first time seeing them - I caught them on their home turf (a USF victory, I'm obligated to point out) back in 2006. Once again, they did not disappoint.

And in true old band nerd fashion, I left after halftime.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Band on the Road Game of the Week 2018 Week 1

Joe Cahn, self-proclaimed Commissioner of Tailgating, has been known to say the best tailgate is the one you're at. It is in that spirit that I resume the Band on the Road Game of the Week. This weekend, I'm headed to Charlotte as Tennessee takes on West Virginia in the Belk College Kickoff. Schedule won't allow me to catch the game, but I expect I'll get a good deal of the cadence of gameday from the lot and pre-events, not the least of which is SEC Gameday on the SEC Network. I'm sure there will be spirited debates on musket toting, mountain worship, moonshining, and circle drills.

What's more: As the Pride of West Virginia makes their way south, they're making a pit stop to perform a high school football halftime at Mount Tabor High School in nearby Winston-Salem, so I'm headed over to catch them under the Friday Night Lights as well.

Finally, since I didn't herald it except for updating the link from the main site, Band on the Road 2018 is up! As always, editing is not only allowed, but encouraged. If there are trips you know are taking place, let us all know!

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Making the Brand

I can't remember exactly when the name came to be. It was probably at some point when I decided my sports blog and band blog would become one that the concept was born. In lieu of any actual design skills, the logo - a digital display reading 80:00 - was born, and has endured, with only minor modifications, for over ten years.

A good deal more recently, I decided I wanted something done by someone who knows what they're doing. The fact of the matter is, 80 Minutes of Regulation is here to stay, and I'm not against spending a few bucks on something professionally done. Fiverr seller techstrocity was the talent that brought a vague concept to life in a way I couldn't have imagined - a bass drum head with jersey numbers is about as on-brand as it gets. Here's to entering the site's second decade in style.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Laundry Day

As I prepare to head to NightBEAT, there's little question what I'll wear: A Carolina Crown shirt. Specifically, my most recently purchased piece of Crown merchandise, which is purple, one of the corps' historic colors.

I tend to approach my drum corps fandom much as I do my sports fandom, an environment in which, as Jerry Seinfeld famously quipped, we root for laundry. There are a couple of major disconnects with this as it relates to the DCI sphere, though. The first is the ever-changing nature of DCI uniforms. If I showed up in red and green in support of Santa Clara Vanguard, for example, it would be at odds with their current look. Same for Crown's purple or cream, and even the Bluecoats ditched their eponymous color and won a championship in spite of it.

The other is that as much as DCI touts itself a Marching Music's Major League, it operates differently. As an association, DCI probably more closely mirrors the craft beer and RV industries. The first fight they face is the value proposition. Stone's opposition isn't Dogfish Head; both of them are competing with Budweiser, Miller, and Coors. Likewise, the goal of the RV industry is to get you to choose that mode of vacationing over hotels or other means; whether you choose a Jayco or Coleman comes secondary. In sports, some of the smaller leagues like Major League Lacrosse and the WNBA benefit from cultivating fans of the sport. In drum corps, the primary objective is getting new fans into shows and choosing the experience.

Drum corps fans also behave markedly differently than sports fans. Booing, for example, is frowned upon. There's a mutual respect between not only the competitors, but the fans. And what's perhaps the most incongruent: As a subjectively objective, arts-based activity, there can be acknowledgment that you like another team better than your own. As a sports fan, that's virtually unheard of, at least in a head-to-head setting. But there have been years where I simply haven't liked "my" corps' show as much as a competitor's. There are those who would throw the whole competitive system away and just observe excellence. For my money, I love the competition, but as long as corps are putting great shows on the field, we're all winning.
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