MediaStrike Banner

Saturday, October 30, 2010

High Notes, Week 8

High Notes is a weekly topic dedicated to recognizing a collegiate marching band who had a notable performance in the week of college football.

So here we are in Week 9 and I'm just writing up Week 8's High Notes; it's been a busy week. That said, I already gave a pretty solid sneak preview into who I'm recognizing this week. Both Tennessee's Pride of the Southland and Alabama's Million Dollar Band brought it, but ultimately Bama won the game and the recognition. Their control of the game led to more opportunities for the MDB to shine, and the fact that they were able to wrap things up with a Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer didn't hurt. 

There's also an honorable mention that I came across quite on accident. Last weekend was race weekend at Martinsville, which is about an hour up the road from me. Though my interest in NASCAR is limited, I always pause at least a bit if one of the "local" tracks (Martinsville, Charlotte, or Dover) is featured, and since the race came on right after a game, I caught the opening ceremonies. Imagine my surprise when my "neighbors", the Triad's own Red Sea of Sound from Winston Salem State University, were playing the anthem! Props to them for landing the gig (likely related to WSSU's significant connections in the NASCAR community) and making 65,000 race fans wonder, "where'd all these black folks come from?"

Saturday, October 23, 2010

High Notes Demystified

I've been doing a pretty good job of actually keeping up with the High Notes series, the first series of any sort I've done in this blog. Regular readers will notice that there was no Week 7 post; that's because I was at Kings Dominion all day Saturday and didn't watch a lick of football. Now that I'm back in front of the screen, I'll weigh in on week 8's bands. But in the absence of last week's column, I thought I'd take the opportunity to shed some light on how bands go about getting picked each week.

I'll first point out that my selections are completely subjective, but then, the sport with which this is related is college football, so that's nothing new. Secondly, and this goes without saying, but I've got to see them. This means that big conference bands get a clear bias for a couple reasons: One is that they are more likely to be televised, and the other is that since they are more likely to travel, they have more performances each season. Again, this bias is nothing foreign in major college football.

There are plenty of inherent biases I've got--favorite bands, preferred styles, and personal opinions about what I think a band's role is. I'll attempt to unpack those here. Just for fun, et's start them all with V:

Volume and Volume: For a band to be picked, they've first got to be heard, which is where the first volume comes in. With that volume, of course, comes good intonation, togetherness, and altogether not-sounding-bad. The second is how much of the game the band plays spending. One thing that will never earn you any recognition is if we hear the stadium's loudspeaker more than we do the band. Ideally, a band will have an answer--even if it's a short tag--for each down played.

Variety: Now this one is tricky, because the downs tags that I just mentioned are usually played many times throughout the game. And I'll be honest, there are some repeaters I enjoy and others that make me cringe. As a shameless homer, USF's Herd of Thunder can play The Bull for 24 hours straight. FSU's Marching Chiefs bother me probably less than they should with the War Chant. But if I never hear Tribute to Troy from USC's Spirit of Troy again, it'll be too soon. But regardless of what your repeater is, ideally you've got something else up your sleeve.

Visual: This is always a tough one because it depends on the network to actually show the band. The ideal situation is always that we get to see at least a little of the field show, but those opportunities are few and far between, so we've got to live with stands presence. No I'll put it out there: I like big bands and I cannot lie. In the college ranks, that's usually not too had to come by. Beyond that, I love together horns-ups, exciting drumline and cymbal visuals, and well-choreographed horn swings.

As I continue to watch the Bama-Tennessee game, the final V may very well be Victory--the band is happier and likely has far more opportunities to play when they are backing a winning team.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Welcome, Retriever Believers...

I'm going to be potentially presumptuous and re-introduce myself; it's possible that the article in UMBC Magazine about this blog may have fellow UMBC alumni and supporters stopping by. If so, welcome!

I think the article and this blogs intro sum it up pretty well, but to restate, I consider this a sports and band blog. I'm a self-professed band nerd, and as such, I came to follow sports--especially UMBC's squads, particularly the men's and women's basketball programs--as a member of the Down and Dirty Dawg Band.

To be clear, this isn't a UMBC blog. A quick look at my tags, however, will show you that it seems I mention UMBC more than everything but the more general "college" and the sport I talk the most about, football. So yes, I love my Retrievers. My graduate institution, University of South Florida, gets some attention from me as well, as does my current employer, UNCG.  Beyond that, it's sports and band, divided mostly into four seasons: Football (marching band), basketball (pep band), lacrosse, and drum corps.

So if the article brought you by, again, welcome! If you like what you read, I invite you to stick around. Go Dawgs!

High Notes, Week 6

High Notes is a weekly topic dedicated to recognizing a collegiate marching band who had a notable performance in the week of college football.

I knew coming into this week that I wouldn't see a ton of college football, since I was at a conference, but I was able to sneak in a few peeks and at least come up with a High Note for Week 6.

I suppose I should apologize to the Golden Band from Tigerland (and perhaps the Pride of the Southland as well) for panning them last week. I got to watch a good deal of of the Florida-LSU game and the Tigers were bringing it, even in the home of the Gators. Which makes me wonder: Does ESPN just cover their bands better than CBS does? At any rate, LSU gets this week's recognition.

In mostly unrelated news, one of the games I missed this weekend was USF's homecoming. In which we lost. To Syracuse. Damn. I think we should stop playing teams from NY for homecoming (see also: Army, 2004.) With the West Virginia game looming this Thursday, this is about the time I'd be talking smack to my WVU friends. Fresh off of a loss to Cuse, I'm not sure I feel up to it.

In happier news, I've gotten a few pre-release glimpses in to UMBC's lacrosse schedule for this coming spring. First of all, as I expected, the series with UNC was indeed a home-and-home, which means the Dawgs'll be coming down to Carolina on March 5. But the bigger news is the next week: UMBC will be taking on Johns Hopkins in the Konica-Minolta Face-Off Classic. This is exciting for a couple of reasons. First of all, the stage is none other than the Baltimore Ravens' M&T Bank Stadium, which is exciting in and of itself. But it's also great because we'll be playing Hopkins on a Saturday. While there's no telling if there'll be a midweek game in there beforehand, this at least opens up the possibility that UMBC will play Hopkins on a full week's rest and gameplanning. It's been commonplace for UMBC to play Hopkins--and other local rivals, like Towson--midweek, probably for ease of travel. Herein lies the rub: I don't think I'm being at all disloyal to my alma mater if I admit that historically, Hopkins is better than UMBC. That said, Zimmerman's a helluva coach, and I feel he can overcome talent differentials with the proper prep time. So knowing we'll be playing the Jays on a Saturday makes me feel a good deal better.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Donovan's Return

October 3, 2010. This date had been circled on the calendars or myriad Philadelphia sports fans since the Eagles' schedule was released. It marked the date that Donovan McNabb, Eagles quarterback for 11 seasons, would return to Lincoln Financial Field not in green, but wearing the hated burgundy and gold of the division rival Washington Redskins. Philly couldn't wait to see him again, and judging by the buzz from the media in the week leading up to their meeting, people couldn't wait to see how Philly would treat him upon his return. After all Philly sports fans are notorious. These are the people who booed Santa Claus, many would remind you. Batteries have been thrown at opponents. They've cheered injuries to opposing players. In short, the Philadelphia fanbase is a bunch of assholes.

I was pleased, then, that the reception McNabb got was both what I expected and what I would have done as a fan, had I been present. Upon team intros, he was cheered vigorously, even given a standing ovation. This didn't come as a surprise to me, I remember both feeling the same and seeing the same when other former Philly standouts returned to town. See also: Dawkins, Brian and Iverson, Allen. Upon the first offensive series, however, McNabb was booed with equal fervor. As well he should have been.

That said, I do take exception to one of the sentiments I heard mentioned a few times. There were some who stated that the cheers were Philly fans on their best behavior because everyone was watching. Make no mistake--Philly fans do not give a damn about what you think. In fact, I'll let you in on a little secret. We actually, to varying degrees, like the asshole brush with which you paint us. After all, why be famous when you can be infamous? That said, there is some truth to the City of Brotherly Love moniker: When we hate, we hate with the best of 'em, but once you earn the love it's hard to shake.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

It's no Ackbar, but...

I made a post earlier this year about Ole Miss' search for a new costumed mascot, with the ousting of Col. Reb. Word is out on the three finalists. I will say that I'm not too humble to point out that Hotty Toddy is not too unlike my suggestion for "Grover", and the fact that each mock-up has Grove attire further hammers home the fact that I wasn't too far off the mark with my suggestion.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

High Notes, Week 5

High Notes is a weekly topic dedicated to recognizing a collegiate marching band who had a notable performance in the week of college football.

This week's theme is "that's why they play the games!"

I'll admit, I do a bit of telegraphing as I start to watch action on any given Saturday. There are bands that I know to be strong and I often expect for them to prove me right and earn that week's recognition. So this week, knowing Tennessee was at LSU and the Pride of the Southland was traveling, I figured one, or both of them, would get the nod for this week. Maybe my expectations are too high of both squads, but neither wowed me. 

I noted before a disappointment with the Wake Forest Band, but from what I could hear they brought it in the stands on Saturday, earning this week's recognition. 

I want to also give a shout-out to quite a few other bands in action this weekend: 20 bands took the field in Allentown, PA this weekend for the Collegiate Marching Band Festival. Obviously I wasn't there and had no way to see the action, but I already know it was a show to behold.

Quick programming note: I may or may not have a High Notes update for Week 6; I am out of town at a conference and it is quite possible that I'll miss an entire Saturday of college football action. 
discussion by