A senior moment. Follow this link (I didn’t like the video download), let Frank start singing and watch for the clowns. Enjoy!
I love this song. I first really noticed it when the West Virginia University Marching Band played “Send in the Clowns” during the WVU/VT football game. I get razed for my love of marching bands but that was one of the most moving musical performances I had ever seen. Still remember it to this day. It was solid proof that a marching band can impact an audience even at pianissimo.
Well, they can razz me too. I had kids at JMU in the 1990’s when the Marching Royal Dukes won the national championship for collegiate marching bands. That band was almost as big a draw as the football team, which was IAA playoff calibre at the time. There came a moment as people were filling the stands when you could start to hear the echo of that great drum line as the band began moving from the dorm area toward the field. And then, led by five or six drum majors, they marched down the field and back playing a tremendous rendition of “It’s a Grand Old Flag.” After the home games, much of the crowd stayed just to see a repeat performance of the halftime show. Those youngsters had real talent.
I recall attending a high school band competition in Fairfax about that time. At competition intermission, the Dukes made an appearance in their gleaming white uniforms, marching with ultimate musical precision onto the field. The high school band kids went gleefully nuts. I think a lot of them dreamed about being part of that championship marching band someday.
JMU has had and still does have one of nations premier music programs. The Marching Dukes are a major part of that reputation. Excellent and innovative outfit.
Back in the late 70s I played in a national jazz competition at JMU and vividly remember the professionalism portrayed by that fine music department.
Along with WVU I consider JMU one of the best college marching band programs in the country. Now I am partial to the Marching Virginians of Virginia Tech as I marched with them for four years. All three are great bands. Nothing like entering the stadium with 325 fellow musicians, (that means 24 tubas) and capturing the moment. Back of the neck hair raising for me. Even to this day.
Several years ago I ran into a guy I use to play with in jazz bands. He was a JMU grad and earned his music masters there. I asked him if he was still playing and he said yup from time to time. His wife then said, “he’s being modest”. Of course I pressed him, and he then told me he was the keyboard player for the Dave Matthews band. Wow!
You mention kids in the band Wolverine. What did they play and do they still get to play?
One of my kids was an alto sax player and a line leader in that championship band. Having a non-musical klutz for an old man, I still don’t know how that kid could play that instrument and go through those intricate marching formations at the same time. I would have stepped on somebody’s foot. Not much playing anymore. Work and family responsibility too heavy.
Mrs. W carries the ball. She plays a mean accordion — all the old songs from the days of the “Clowns” and long before. Her grandparents courted on the ice skating ponds of rural Kansas at the beginning of the 20th century — long dresses and coats, fancy hats, the muffs —like a picture painted by Currier and Ives. Grandma’s favorite song until the end of her long life was “Let Me Call You Sweetheart.” Whenever Mrs. W plays that one, she gets all misty eyed. Now, that is a “senior moment.”
It is amazing how drilling will lock into your memory a halftime program. I can still remember my first “spot” in Lane Stadium. 26 and half yard line, two steps off the hash. So yes Wolverine, you have a right to admire your daughter. It is a lot of hard work and long long hours to get a show down.
Most college bands march 8 to 5. That being eight steps to five yards, with the left foot hitting the yard marker. This works north south and east west on a field. So the entire 100 yard field is divided into a big grid. Most military bands will march a slower strided step of 6 to 5. Same grid system used just larger.
WVUs old stadium actually had little red dots marking each step, north south east and west. I guess those Mountaineers needed a little more help. I do recall the WVU band had a blind clarinet player. After a marching musician learns to pace off 8 to 5 it becomes automatic. (to this day I can high step off 5 yards right on the dime) Anyway this blind player was amazing. She would play and march an entire show and you wouldn’t be able to pick her out of the band until after she was on the sidelines and a guide would come over and help her back to the stands. Awesome.
As for accordion music. I love it although you don’t here it much anymore. I use to watch Lawrence Welk all the time as a kid and his band had an accordion player in it. Here’s a fun fact. I was the stage manager at one of Reagan’s Inaugural balls. I escorted the Lawrence Welk Band (sans the ole man as he had passed away, think it was his nephew who lead the band) and the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra from the time they arrived at the Shoreham until the end of the gig. It’s a good chance that was the last time I heard a live accordion player.
And then there was the time when — oh so long ago — one of my best friends was the drum major for the high school marching band. He wore an all white uniform with a great big bearskin hat. Football was a very big thing at our school. As the stands filled, you could hear the band coming down the city street behind the stadium playing the school fight song. Those fans coming late to the game stopped to watch. The band went by the stadium, made a turn and came onto the gridiron for the pre-game ceremonies through the far goalposts.
On one particular night in the late autumn, it had been raining hard all day. The rain let up just before game time, but the field was still a muddy mess. As the band paused at the endzone, waiting for the signal to march and play, my friend gave that signal with a magnificent move of his long baton, took one step forward, and fell full length on his face in the mud. His white uniform from his shoes to the top of his bearskin hat were suddenly black. But he got up and carried on like a true band trooper — although we scoundrels never let him forget it!
Judy Collins sang that song, Send in the Clowns.
Thank You ACTivist I did enjoy that video, thankfully we have archives to be able to see these great talents of another time for our children to watch and their children also, on and on.
It is May 25, 2013, 7:31 pm