A Band of Brothers (and Sisters)…

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It was “Senior Night” for the high school our grandkids attend and they honored the band seniors during pregame.

Granddaughter Delaney was joined on the field by her proud Mom and Day while big brother Logan sat with Grandma and Grandpa in the stands near the 40 yard line.

Neav had made 6 signs, sporting  bold, black letters with “L-A-N-E-Y” printed on them and the last one had a brightly-colored ladybug on it,

“Laney-Bug” has been her nickname and Grandma cleared this with her granddaughter prior to the event.

Not that she would have been embarrassed had we not tipped her off to the signage.

Foster family members have been “hardened” by years of digs and pokes that always goes on when we’re together.

(Ask my wife about teaching my sisters and I how to play euchre before we were even married!)

Still, our hoots and hollers and purposeful misspells did put a smile on her face.

Delaney’s grandparents both marched in high school band but what we did pales in comparison to what these kids do today.

They are so much more accomplished as musicians that we ever were.

These young men and women  go through a two-week band camp that I think might have been more physically demanding,  at times, than some of my USAF basic training.

But we did endure more weeks than the band does and it was San Antonio in late summer and early autumn so we did have a touch of heat and humidity to deal with.

When I was in high school, we had our halftime shows and marched in a few parades and that was pretty much it.

I don’t recall having to remember all the music we played and we tweaked each halftime show to acknowledge the opponent.

One fall, it rained so much that we used the same, basic halftime show, playing “Asleep in the Deep”.

The band formed a huge whale on the field and we had someone shoot a fire extinguisher to resemble the spout.

Oh, where was Ahab with his harpoon when we really needed him?!

These band members today compete at a pretty high level.

They have one “show” with several stages or sets which they slowly add to the performances with hopes at having it all rolling by the time they get to the actual class competition.

It starts in August and can roll into early November.

It seems like a lot more “work” than I remember high school band being.

Granddaughter Delaney is the lead snare but she is always quick to remind me while I was a drummer, she is a percussionist.

It ain’t braggin’ if you can back it up and she does.

Back in the “Dark Ages” when I was in high school band, I just remember it being a lot of fun.

Much like today, the sections sort of “hung out” together during the marching season.

It my day, the drum section was most like “Welcome Back Kotter’s” ‘Sweathogs’.

We were the goofballs, the rowdy ones who probably helped create more gray hairs on band directors than any other section.

We were loud and always had our foot on the accellerator.

It made for some “crisp” tempos while marching.

It was mostly guys but we did have Stephanie Hunter when I was a sophomore and I chose to not mess with her.

Jim McLead taught me the bass drum twirling routine we used with our batters and what we lacked musically, we more than made up for it with showmanship.

We didn’t have the harness gear present-day drummers use.

It was a lot of canvas straps and belts which didn’t make the gear as “snug” as it is today.

The band uniforms  were dark green and ancient and we had white, feathered plumes for the hats.

I had “white bucks” which I polished weekly.

We had no artificial turf in those days and football fields seems to resemble grazing areas for cattle at times.

Maintaining white shoes became a full-time job from September through early November.

Neav played the trumpet and also sat in a tuba once.

But that’s another story for another day.

Years ago, Neav and I encountered our old band director, the beloved Mr. Brown  who asked if our girls were going to be in band.

He glared at me and said, “They’re not going to play drums, are they?”

They both wound us playing trumpet, just like Mommy.

Granddaughter Delaney brought percussion back into the family realms after her older brother, Logan played baritone.

Still, whether it was 50 years ago or today, there’s a bond that never breaks among band members.

I still hear frequently from former high school musicians on Facebook.

There’s something about long bus rides to games in other time zones, plus those halftime Cokes and hot dogs in high school that leaves a deep mark on you.

That’s why even if it’s a great game, I’m still sorta partial to the halftime performance.

Even if I was just a drummer and not a percussionist.

Once a ‘bandie” always a ‘bandie”.


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