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‘All-American’ Band members experts at packing for bowl games
Monday, December 18, 2006
With nine years of experience behind them, seniors in the Purdue “All-American” Marching Band know how to pack for a bowl game - sunscreen, summer clothes and anticipation. This year the Purdue “All-American” Marching Band heads to Orlando, FL, on Dec. 26 for the Boilermakers bout with the Maryland Terrapins in the Champs Bowl on Friday, Dec. 29.
At the Champs Bowl, Purdue’s band will perform its crowd-pleasing “Drumline Rock” show, including a powerful rendition of “School’s Out,” “Tear It Up” and “In the Stone” along with a drum battle inspired by the movie “Drumline.” It will also energize several Purdue pep rallies with its music, and will visit Downtown Disney and Universal Studios.
Two planes take off from the Purdue Airport on Tuesday morning, Dec. 26, to carry the 340-member marching band to Florida where they’ll stay at the Barcelo Orlando Hotel.
Fort Wayne, IN’s, Erica Shelby doesn’t hesitate when asked the one thing she doesn’t want to forget to pack. “A camera because I want to take pictures of everything and everyone. This will be my last performance at a Purdue football game and I want to remember it forever.”
Others are more practical. “Lots of deodorant, for days when we get right off the plane, into a uniform, march a parade, then go out to dinner or to a theme park without getting a chance to shower,” says Kristen Ignaczak from Park Ridge, IL. Fort Wayne, IN’s Andrew VanDenDriessche adds: “Tylenol. Never underestimate the ability of a large band living together for almost a week to cause headaches.”
For their Orlando performances, band director Jay S. Gephart picked tunes that garnered the most audience response during the 2006 football season.
“I love this show because it really covers all your bases when it comes to styles of music. We’ve got Alice Cooper, DMX, and Earth, Wind, and Fire—there’s something for everyone. It’s high energy, with lots of dancing and even a little rapping. The whole thing cooks from beginning to end…it’s gonna be hot,” says Spring Hill, FL senior Amy Miller.
Patrick Schutz, a senior from Vincennes, IN, agrees: “ I don’t know about the fans, but when the band enters its second refrain of ‘School’s Out’ by Alice Cooper, the hairs on the back of my neck always stand up. The sound is just so loud and the chords are so powerful. Musically, that song is the Purdue Band at its finest.”
Even though they’ve played every tune hundreds of times, band members find bowl games breed a healthy form of nervousness. “I always have butterflies in my stomach whenever I enter the field to perform, but for a bowl game, your energy jumps about ten points, because it's just like your first performance all over again,” says Indianapolis, IN, senior Robbie Baker.
“You are performing for people who have never seen you, and you're showing them all that you are about. It really is an awesome experience to see the faces of people who have rarely or never seen you perform that are amazed at what you can do.”
Entertainment’s not the marching band’s only goal. They want to propel the Boilermakers to victory. “Just like at any other game, the band coordinates what all of the Purdue crowd does during the game,” says Laurelville, OH, senior Adam Horton. “The effect the Purdue crowd has on the game, with the leadership of the band, is quite drastic.”
The Purdue Band tradition of marching excellence extends back to 1886, a year before football at Purdue. The “Block P” the band forms is verified historically as the first formation, other than a military block, ever formed by a band. Paul Spotts Emrick introduced it in 1907 and the tradition turns 100 in just a few days. The “Block P” is on the front of the uniform and is a source of pride to band members. “It symbolizes our history, our school, and how solid block formations can be powerful and a source of strength. I point to it whenever I’m on the jumbotron (at games) and I protect it at all costs, that’s how much it means to me,” says senior Dan Montgomery from Western Springs IL.
When the uniforms are off, it’s time for serious fun. “We always manage to have a great time even if it’s just hanging out in the hotel or going to dinner,” says Kelly Goede, senior from House Springs, MO. Another Missouri resident, Meghan Messmer from Lake Saint Louis, adds: “I love going to the theme parks and visiting old historic towns but I have a blast during the hours we spend on the plane and buses as well. We laugh and joke around….we still bring up jokes from our first trip to Orlando in 2003.”
With 340 members in the band, new friendships can sprout up on bowl trips. Drum Major Steven Hood from Brentwood, TN, knows that better than anyone. “Three years ago, on our trip to the Capital One Bowl in Orlando, I met my fiancé, and we’ve had a whole lot of great times since then, and look forward to many, many more,” he says.
For seniors this time is extra special because it’s their last trip with the band and emotions run high. Often the emotion fuels very special performances.
“This last game for me will be a great way to finish my career with the marching band,” says senior Peter Rummel of Napannee, IN. “I always get excited right when we begin running onto the field, but it will be bittersweet when I march off for the final time.”
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