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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Here's to Wake Forest

I've actually been holding this one close to the vest since it came to my attention. This makes me, I suppose, a horrible journalist, but a formidable confidante. I'll take that.

NightBEAT, the annual Tour of Champions event put on by Carolina Crown, has been relocated from Charlotte to Winston-Salem at BB&T Field, home stadium of Wake Forest football. As a previous ticket purchaser, I was invited about a month ago to take a brief survey gauging interest and likelihood of attendance in the event that NightBEAT were to make that move. I knew then it was a strong possibility, and sure enough, word came out on Friday that Winston would be the event's 2015 home.

I couldn't be more thrilled.

NightBEAT is typically a nearly two hour trek for me from my home in Greensboro. Not bad, to be sure, but the 45 minutes to Winston is far better. And while it's virtually home for me, it is home for friends of mine - and my usual NightBEAT crew - who work for a high school band there. In fact, there's a good chance they'll be a host site. I've longed for a drum corps show to make it here to the Triad, and now, even if it's a one year engagement, one is coming.

As for Wake Forest, I'm no stranger. Having good friends who are Florida State alumni, I've been there about every other year when the Noles come to town. I've already got my tailgate spot and everything. In fact, with a shorter trip, local friends, and my daughter being four and more up to a longer day, we may indeed return to the lot after a few years' hiatus before this one.

What's more, there's an undercard to the news that could otherwise go overlooked. While NightBEAT will feature the Tour of Champions' usual suspects, this year's event will also include the Madison Scouts. My only - albeit minor - qualm with my closest show being a TOC event has been that it doesn't give me the opportunity to see anyone outside of that group of corps. I'm glad the men of Madison will be making the trek this time around.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Talladega Nights

Perhaps it was expressed in their opening salvo from this year's Bacchus: They live for the applause.

I can sheepishly admit that when Talladega College was invited to this year's Honda Battle of the Bands, I needed a refresher on exactly who they were. Perhaps more accurately, I needed a fresher; the Marching Tornadoes were, after all, in just their third season at the time of the invitation. While I'm well-versed in the bands of the MEAC, SWAC, CIAA, and SIAC, Talladega hails from the NAIA's Gulf Coast Athletic Conference. But despite that, the college of just 1,500 students located a dozen miles south of the eponymous superspeedway fields a band that has been turning heads since they stepped on the scene.

I've made the metaphor before in other venues, but is the Marching Tornadoes Boise State of black college marching? Fans would tell you they took it to Southern at last year's Bacchus during Mardi Gras (Human Jukebox members would quickly point out it wasn't their full band) and in the video above, they seemed to serve up all the 'Box could handle this year as well. While both bands pull from a diverse repertoire, opening an HBCU battle of the bands with Lady Gaga is certainly a bit of a Statue of Liberty play. And like Boise State, Dega has been consistently punching above its weight. The only thing that remains to be seen is if they have the longevity to continue playing with the big boys.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Long Haul

I'm nothing if not consistent, it seems.

As a denizen of Tournament Town, I've been fixated on the ACC basketball tournaments - moreso the men's - since I made the mental switch to basketball when football ended. With a recently expanded conference tournament, I found myself wondering if schools that in the opening day - especially those who have to travel some distance - would send their pep bands. Turns out I've wondered that sort of thing before.

This year adds an additional wrinkle. To move the championship game off of Selection Sunday, the tournament will now tip off on a Tuesday, adding another weekday into the mix for bands that begin in the opening round and continue to advance. Again, I wonder: If you're in last place in the conference and making the trip from Chestnut Hill - Boston College's lot in life if the season ended today - do you send the pep band? Here's hoping.

Sunday, February 15, 2015


Some may think it curious that I didn't write anything a week ago following the passing of legendary UNC coach Dean Smith. I am, after all, a college basketball fan, and I live in North Carolina. Therein lies the rub: There's so much more expertise and personal experience around me as it relates to Coach Smith and Carolina basketball. So I will instead accept an assist from a friend, colleague, and fellow blogger of mine whose piece says far more than I could hope to: Sarah of Make Your Freaking Foul Shots:

Remembering Dean Smith
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