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Saturday, October 27, 2012

BOTR Game of the Week, 2012 Week 9

If you mention college rivalry at all, and certainly college rivalry in the state of Alabama, Auburn and Alabama's Iron Bowl is sure to come up. Without getting into the finer points of the Morrill Land Grant Act, there's another pair of state schools who meet on the gridiron each fall: Alabama State and Alabama A&M in the Magic City Classic in Birmingham.

On the off-chance that you're unfamiliar with HBCU classics, think mid-season bowl games. Some, like Indianapolis' Circle City Classic, invite a new pair of teams each year, while others--Magic City being one of them--are annual rivalry games between two schools. More than simply the game, festivities will typically include a parade, battle of the bands, pep rallies, and all sorts of other related festivities. Simply put, it's more band for your buck, and makes the Magic City Classic perfect for this week's Game of the Week.

And as with many HBCU matchups, the show is not over once the clock hits 0:00. Here's the 5th Quarter from last year's Magic City Classic.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Battle of the Bands: Tobacco Road Edition

There's nothing like a college sports rivalry.

This week UNC and NC State meet on the football field. While Duke-Carolina gets most of the press, especially on the hardwood, there's no love lost between Carolina and State either.

In what I'm hearing is an annual tradition, a contingent from NC State's Power Sound of the South hopped on the highway to Chapel Hill to blast The Army Goes Rolling Along their fight song towards several residence halls on campus. This is the sort of harmless trolling that accompanies good rivalries, especially those with geographic proximity. The folks at SB Nation's NC State blog, Backing the Pack, gives us the twitrospective here.

Apparently the high brass of the Marching Tar Heels feel the gauntlet was thrown. A few of their trumpets took to YouTube to whip 'em out in a challenge to NC State, the pinnacle of which was a high (several octaves above middle C. I can't tell you how many. I'm a drummer) D that one of the trio nearly (yes, he falls  short. Even a drummer can hear that) hits, followed by an invite to "see [them] on the 50".

For those wondering what the point even is of recording a lick from marching band standard Malaguena, allow me to shed a little light. First of all, for those unfamiliar with the trumpet personality/stereotype/reality, I'll point you to the diagram and equate the trumpets with wide receivers. The ego, the braggadocio, and the cocksure sense of self are all there. This particular trumpeter--I can't even put it on the trio, as two were really just playing supporting role--saw fit to show off his prowess with an admittedly impressively high note. You see, while there are many qualities to being a good player, one that first trumpets tend to latch onto is how high they can play. For maximum effort, hold it a beat beyond when the director cuts you off. It's practically an end zone dance!

So to recap, the PSOTS took their fight to the Heels' door, while three members of the Marching Tar Heels took to the internet for a lukewarm callout. I'm scoring this one decisively for NC State. And while I admittedly got a bit fired up about this, I also run a sports and marching/athletic music blog. Most everyone else is probably shaking their head and saying, "band nerds."

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

High Notes, 2012 Week 8

I was out-of-pocket for much of this weekend--various family things on Saturday and hiking and camping Sunday into Monday--so I didn't catch a whole ton of football live. Luckily, people continue to believe that Amazing Happens Every Saturday, and often have their cameras at the ready.

The state of Ohio is trying to post a monopoly on #AHES, as TBDBITL does it again. Huffington Post shared this past weekend's show, and it was, quite literally, out of this world. Video below.

A couple of things worth noting about this particular show. One is that while I don't know that this was stated or even done intentionally, it's particularly fitting that Ohio State should do an Out of the World show when playing Purdue. After all, the recently departed Neil Armstrong is an alumnus of Purdue University. Secondly, I notice that when entertaining, a lot of things that I'm not a big fan of in marching/athletic music--voiceovers being a big one--can be overlooked, as they certainly helped enhance this show.

One more note about this past weekend, and it makes the "high" notes in a different sense of the word. In some of the action I did catch on Saturday, I quipped prior to halftime that the Marching Chiefs and Band of the Hour were both in the house and the home audience wouldn't see any of it. A friend of mine who works at Miami shared that the Chiefs wouldn't be taking the field. Apparently, FSU didn't include the Chiefs in their ticket allotment, leading to them being relegated to the top 10 rows of Sun Life Stadium. Talk about high!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

BOTR Game of the Week, Week 8

Week 8 puts up a strong slate of band on the road matchups. Each of the six AQ conferences has at least one travel game, and there are several big regional matchups and long-standing and growing rivalries.

While I already knew the Marching Virginians of Virginia Tech were going on the road this weekend, I  learned via the Twitter of Clemson's Band that Shakes the Southland that the two would be teaming up for a Military Appreciation show. I've mentioned before that I'm not typically a fan of mass bands, save for special occasions, but honoring our military certainly fits the bill. with that in mind, the game of the week, contrary to what Steve Spurrier may believe, will be in Death Valley. It looks like both bands are already hard at work:

Photo courtesy of Clemson's band on Twitter. Follow them @CUTigerBand

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Amazing and Newsworthy

Not long after I unveiled my #AHES initiative, my old band director shared something with me on Facebook that was right on time.

I wasn't previously familiar with CNN's iReport series, but it seems the topic of the month is marching bands. They're inviting users to submit their own videos into what has become a treasure trove of band content. Check it out here!

Monday, October 15, 2012

High Notes, 2012 Week 7

While I include games where only a pep band travels in Band on the Road, I admittedly discount those matchups. I never include them as Games of the Week, and when it comes to looking at any given week's matchups, they're certainly second-class citizens. While this practice makes sense, I do need to keep in mind that a traveling "pep band" is not the same 30-50 member ensemble that plays in the basketball arena. Traveling bands still bring 100 or more, and while they may not take the field, they can still pack a punch in the band.

That was the story this Saturday in Baton Rouge. South Carolina only brought a pep band to LSU, but they put in work in the stands. While the Cocks fell short of the Tigers on the football field, and the diminished Mighty Sound of the Southeast certainly faced an uphill battle against the Golden Band from Tigerland, it was clear that pound for pound, South Carolina brought their A game.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Amazing Happens Every Saturday

But here's the thing: Amazing happens every Saturday on football fields throughout the country, and a lot of it happens when the game clock isn't running. Amazing happens in a variety of marching styles, with a variety of musical offerings, and it happens largely out of the view of television cameras, and sadly, also out of the view of live spectators who take the opportunity to grab a beer instead of watching what's going on on the field. October 11, 2011

It was just a line from a post that's turned into a bit of a recurring theme. At the time, I was talking about the Marching 110's performance of Party Rock Anthem, which had recently gone viral, and more broadly, other marching shows that gain pop appeal through viral means. Shortly after that post, the folks who run the UConn Marching Band's Twitter separated out what has become the tagline, and a concept was born. We're seeing halftime shows gain internet fame more frequently now, and while I love it and think it's good for the activity, I maintain my stand that Amazing Happens Every Saturday.

That's where you come in. If you come across Amazing on any given Saturday (or Thursday, Friday, or any other time) please share either an account, photo, or video of what happened. They can be shared over on the 80 Minutes Facebook page, or on Twitter using the tag #AHES.

BOTR Game of the Week, 2012 Week 7

As we hit roughly the halfway point of the 2012 regular season, I remind you all that my knowledge of what bands are traveling in any given week is based only on information from the bands' sites and that which other knowledgeable people are able to share with me. In any given week, there are matchups I miss because in information simply isn't out there.

That said, at least based on the info I've got, it's not a particularly strong week for Band on the Road matchups. This week, I'll take is to the Texas State Fair in Dallass and take a look at the Red River Shootout (yeah I said it) and its annual matchup between two Big 12 Sudler Trophy winners.

The Pride of Oklahoma:

Texas' Longhorn Band:

Green on Saturday, Green on Sunday

This past weekend, my wife, daughter, and I made the trip back up north for, among other things, USF's football game at Temple. It was the return to the Big East for the Owls, but more importantly, it was a USF game on my stompin' grounds. So after planning for a weekend that included visiting both families, tours and haunted house at Eastern State Penitentiary, and the Maryland Renaissance Fair, we headed north.

We departed from my parents' house in northern DE and made it to the stadium before 10. I pulled up next to a few fellow Bulls, currently living in the Philadelphia area, and took down the USF flags that had flown up 95. When they asked why, I shared that despite being a Philadelphia-area sports fan, I trust them about as far as I can throw Andy Reid.

It was my plan to fly an Eagles flag with my USF stuff, both to represent my "green on Saturday, green on Sunday" loyalties, especially in the shadow of Lincoln Financial Field, and potentially show the Philly fans that I'm a friendly. Still, as much as I half-expected from Temple fans, I didn't have any problem with the Temple fans I encountered--in fact, despite sharing space, there was very little interaction with them.

My tailgating plans were to catch up with Collin of Voodoo Five fame; Collin's also a Philly-area native and wasn't missing this one. I met a few other Bulls in the lot while attempting to connect with Collin and his crew. It was full of Philly accoutrements; I knew I was home when I grabbed a Yuengling from the Wawa cooler. He had soft pretzels on deck as well. Big thanks to Collin and his crew for excellent tailgate hospitality, especially since packing for the full trip meant I was decidedly light on my own tailgate gear.

It was homecoming at Temple, which meant several campus entities had their own tailgate tents set up. On the way to the stadium we were able to keep the Philly party going with Tastykakes. We headed up to the gates and a misdirection to the will-call got us in a little later than expected. It was my intent to catch all of Temple's pregame because, well, duh. I caught some of it upon entering the stadium before heading to our seats, which were pretty much right on the 50 on the visitors side.

The last Philly sports stadium I had been in was Veterans Stadium, so clearly this was my first time in the Linc. Maybe it was the Temple setup, or the manner in which you enter, but it felt small. It felt cozy. It felt like home. And in addition to being an Eagles fan, I've got an idea why: Temple, like USF, plays in an NFL stadium. In fact, watching a team in red try to fill a green stadium isn't unlike my own team in green in its home red stadium. Despite the Eagles playing across the state at Pittsburgh that weekend, the Owls played over faded Eagles end zone and midfield markings instead of their own. Certainly I know that feeling.

As I mentioned in High Notes, I was impressed by Temple's band. They brought it in the stands, and at least from my vantage point across the field, they had decent sound output, though I don't know if part of that is favorable acoustics at the Linc or the relative quietness of the stadium. I don't know that they're next up in line for the Sudler, but few are, and the Diamond Band was thoroughly enjoyable both on the field and in the stands.

Like I said, I really didn't have any problem with the Temple faithful, with two small exceptions. The first didn't impact me at all really. A few rows ahead of where we sat were a few other Bulls fans. One was perhaps as negative the entire time as anyone who calls himself a fan, but I don't recall him using any foul language. Someone did, it seems; there was a snitchuation in which one of the stadium security came over and told him to watch his mouth following a report he had received. Look, I'm all for being respectful, especially when there are children around (I don't think there were) but particularly in that stadium, the drop-a-dime hotline, especially for language, is pretty laughable.

The second came as we left our section on the way out of the stadium. Some college age guys in the section about them were yelling down "South Florida Sucks!" at everyone who left our section. Yeah, thanks, guy.

The Bulls did, of course, suck. Despite dropping three in a row, I had convinced myself that if that was our usual season slump, I'd take it because we could stil come out on top in conference. After not getting the job done at Temple, we fell to a sadly familiar 0-2 start in the Big East and currently sit as a 3 point underdog to some team called BYE this week. To the Owls' credit, they were fired up about returning to the Big East and definitely showed up to play. The Bulls, on the other hand, continue to not be able to get it done. So while I saw the home team win in Philly, it wasn't the desired outcome for me this time through. At leaset I was able to grab a cheesesteak on South Street before leaving the City of Brotherly Love.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

High Notes, 2012 Week 6

You'll note there was no Week 5 recognition; I was at a conference that weekend and didn't catch and football or football-related activities, though in a pinch, I'd recognize the Dixie Classic Fair, which I visited with my wife and daughter on Sunday. Similarly, this week's travels didn't allow me any televised football. Lucky for me, there was one clip in particular that hit my Facebook and Twitter feeds too often to be denied. Not that Ohio State's TBDBITL hasn't always been stellar, but it seems they got tired of their statemates, the Ohio University Marching 110, being the YouTube Champion and put together a show with plenty of viral potential of its own. And who doesn't love a good video game show?

While I didn't catch any football on TV, I did make it to a live game and saw my USF Bulls take on the Temple Owls in Philly. I've noted before that me being present live does not guarantee a band High Notes recognition (sorry, Wake Forest) but this week, I think Temple is worthy. Temple's Diamond Marching Band toes a line that I feel certain predominantly white institutions can do well: They can play hip hop, soul, and funk tracks without it sounding forced, while still remaining true to their corps style roots. In the stands, Temple hit us with All of the Lights (which they put on the field last year) as well as Forgot About Dre. Their halftime show was Aerosmith, and while I was on the backfield side, it seemed quite well done, and despite the bells facing away, they had plenty of sonic output to carry. Further, it was Homecoming at Temple, so they ended by being joined by folks who dusted off their clarinets and borrowed fiberglass sousaphones (and at least one contra) from the local high school to take the field once again. This piece was also well done.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Something Magic Happens

It's a weeknight in early October and I'm watching sports.

And no, it's not USF losing on a Thursday night.

I'm watching the Yankees and the Red Sox play. Yes, you may remember I don't typically give a rip about baseball. And despite being a Red Sox fan when I do care, I'm actually watching on behalf of the O's. In case you missed it, the O's are playoff bound for the first time since 1997, and currently have a (rapidly waning as I type this) chance at winning the division. The most likely outcome currently is headed to Texas as the second AL wild card team for a one-off against the Rangers. I conceptualize it as a play-in game, but if MLB calls it the playoffs, hell, it's the playoffs.

A ton of folks I care about are downright giddy about where the O's are finding themselves this season. And to be honest, I'm right there with them. The O's are beloved by people I love and a city I love, and having minimal other interest--even if I cared more, the Red Sox are garbage this year--it's good to see them succeed. I've actually been paying attention to what's been transpiring over the past few weeks, definitely a different spot for me. I'm glad to see the long-suffering O's fans--not the least of which is my wife--get their due.
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