Saturday was the VHS Alumni Bands 22nd performance at the Vermilion High School Band Festival. I originally marched for the Vermilion High School Sailor Marching Band from my Sophomore to Senior years (Senior Year Video) which encompass the fall of 1991 through the summer of 1994. I had the option to put on the band uniform one last time for the Vermilion Fish Festival in 1994, but I declined that was the first time I performed with the VHS Alumni Band.
My first band festival (Fall 1994) outside of high school I didn’t get a chance to perform, I was marching with earlier that day for a home game with the Ashland University Marching Band. I did show up that evening to watch the performance and hang out with friends. I heard a lot of people say that this was their best year in Alumni Band, no disrespect to Joe, but I have to disagree, at least for myself. The best year for me was my first festival back with the group at the Band Festival of 1995(?) which was Willy B’s (William Burt’s) last year as the Band Director for Alumni. If it hadn’t been for Mr. Burt and his loyal students there wouldn’t have been an Alumni band today, so all of us can look back and thank them for making this possible.
I’ve marched many years with Alumni at the festival (1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2006, 2007, and 2008) and I only missed it five times because I was living in Oregon. I can say I was extremely tempted to spend the money for a plane ticket and fly back for it during those missing years. I’m extremely happy that I was there for Mr. Henry’s final year as both a high school director (my senior year) and his last year as an Alumni Band director. Last year when he announced he was retiring as the Alumni director I had tears in my eyes (HEY I’M A SENSITIVE GUY!!). David Henry is probably one of the greatest influences on my life, and I don’t know where I would be today if Jeff Luther hadn’t tried to convince someone who didn’t know how to play a note to join the marching band. Someday I’ll write a whole article on Mr. Henry, today isn’t that day though.
My own personal tradition is to show up early for Alumni practice, I was always the first to arrive and just enjoyed being there sitting in the back of the band room anticipating the day. This year I was dropped off and there already was another car there, three majorettes beat me. For the first time I wasn’t the first one there. Next year I guess I have to arrive at 6 AM. My wife dropped me off, then she went a visited the grave of a friend to tell him about the new pregnancy. Later in the day I told that friend’s sister, who is now in Alumni, that we are planning on giving our child his name if it is a boy.
Mr. Price ran us ragged through out the day for the performance. I’m not saying it wasn’t worth it, I’m just saying…. After lunch was practiced our closing routine for the first time and at the end we practiced the high step. My ankles felt like they were going to break at any second. It may have been the shoes, but I think it was age catching up with me. I went out and bought a pair of ankle supports at dinner time. I wore these for the rest of the night. I managed to high step and I didn’t break an ankle. On Sunday however I could hardly walk on my ankles at all. By Sunday night it had migrated to just my left ankle. It is still sore and tender four days later.
Pain and sickness isn’t new to me at Alumni Band though. Two years ago I blew out and gave myself a sore throat in the morning practice. Compound that by the fact that it was raining that night and eventually it got bad enough they moved the festival inot the high school gym – I was laid up sick in bed for four days afterward. Last year I got the sore throat again, but it didn’t develop into anything more. After last year I decided I wanted to be in playing shape – no sore throat and no dead lips. I joined two community bands and that corrected the issue from that side. I do think I’m going to have to start running again just to get my ankles in shape for next year. These are the the things I do for Alumni Band.
Some things are funny, like the people being amazed that the current seniors were freshmen when they were seniors. I pointed out that the current seniors weren’t even in preschool when I was a senior. You have the differences in band style from the Burt to Henry to Price eras, and of course all of us think that our own era was the best. There are things I missed from the past in Alumni. Large groups of us used to sneak in Alcohol in water bottles and get lit before marching. Before he did Dennis Pintur used to be notorious for that. He was also notorious for blowing out his lip playing tuba and showing everyone his bloody white beard also. The tuba’s back then actually did tuba chases, which I haven’t seen in the last few years. During the drum breaks our tubas also used to twirl their instruments. My first year in the band festival Mike Lewandowski put me on his shoulders during the drum break and we did a dance in our section of the field.
The band has changed and grown up. This isn’t really a bad thing. It may be why some of hte older members don’t show up still, but that happens. The experience isn’t the same, people move away, people are busy – there are alot of reasons people don’t show up. The rest of us… Well the the rest of us want to relive our glory days like Al Bundy. In a way we are sad like some people think. It is also glory. The excitement of going onto that field, feeling the rush, and doing it one more time. I’ll be there as long as I am physically able. I’ll be there in a wheel chair and play for the middle songs only. In the end I’ll be there. I’ve lasted longer playing with the band then the band has played in the Vermilion Fish Festival (which BTW I think they need to start doing again). I’ll survive and do it until there isn’t a band festival to march at anymore. If it ever comes to that point I’ll just invite all the band members that want to show up on a fall Saturday, pull out some music, and play on the football field even if it’s just for ourselves. Those that understand that, they are the ones that really want to “Do it One More Time”.
Star Spangled Banner – Google Video Link
Festival Show – Google Video Link
Sideline Footage – Google Video Link
If you somehow missed it you can also always watch last years video here.
If you want to see the pictures I took – scoot on over to my Flickr set.