It is time for this week’s installment of our previews of The Best Damn Band in the Land. As an alumnus of the band I have loved writing these and bringing some much deserved attention to this year’s edition of the band, I hope you enjoy reading them as well. Part of my goal in writing these has been to inform people about things relating to TBDBITL that the average person likely does not know. To that end, please post any band related questions you have in the comment section and I will try to answer them in coming weeks.
Last weekend the Ohio State Marching Band did not follow the team to Penn State, the OSUMB only goes to one away game each year and this year’s away game was a trip to Michigan State. The band did not have the weekend off though as they went to Cleveland on Sunday to perform at the Browns-Chargers game. Each year the OSUMB performs at one NFL game, alternating between the Browns and the Bengals. For band members who are Browns or Bengals fans these games are always a fun chance to go to one of their team’s games every other year; for band members who are Steelers fans, like myself, well it is an NFL game. The band performs at both pregame and halftime but due to the shorter NFL halftimes, the band switches their normal performances. For pregame the band performs one of their halftime shows while doing their normal away game pregame show at halftime; this flipping of pregame and halftime performances is also done at some bowl games depending on the halftime schedule of those games. A video of the halftime performance is included at the end of the article showing the band entering the field the strains of Buckeye Battlecry in a floating ‘OHIO’ formation. This road game entrance is relatively new, having come into use within the last decade and is more interesting than the solid block band entrance that was used during my time in band. The OSUMB then performs Hang On Sloopy before performing a double Script Ohio.
This week the band returns to Ohio Stadium as the football team hosts Illinois. Just like the football team, the band will have been in action 10 weeks in a row and just like the football team the band is likely looking forward to the bye weekend after this game. Contrary to what many people may think, being a member of the OSUMB is very physically demanding. Band members must be in good shape in order to march and play during a performance, often a very fast tempos; the ramp entrance and fight songs are performed at 180 beats per minutes so band members are taking 3 steps every second. The high standards of TBDBITL mean that weekday practices are also physically grueling. The OSUMB’s marching style is also tough on the body, especially the knees, and over the season injuries tend to occur and band members have to perform through them. To help deal with these injuries and the physical demands of being in band, the OSUMB employs a physical therapist who attends band practices and performances. Pam Bork became the band’s physical therapist in 1998 and has been a major unsung hero of the band, helping make sure that band members can perform each week. In addition to her duties with TBDBITL, Pam works as the Senior Physical Therapist at the Wilce Student Health Center on campus.
This week the OSUMB will be performing a patriotic show with music selected to represent the history of the military conflicts the US has been involved in. The show opens with Yankee Doodle/When Johnny Comes Marching Home/Battle of Little Round Top. The show then moves into the 20th century Over There/music from Pearl Harbor. The mood becomes more somber with Samuel Barber’s Adagio before ending on an inspirational note with the Ray Charles version of America the Beautiful. Music was arranged by long time band arranger John Tatgenhorst, percussion is by percussion instructor Aaron Bell. The drill will feature members of the US armed forces and was written by graduate assistant director Joshua Laux. Patriotic shows have long been a tradition of TBDBITL and they are often one of the strongest shows of the season for the band. The military history focus of this show is a different take from the patriotic shows of the past decade and I am very happy to see Over There chosen to be part of the show, it is one of my favorite patriotic songs and is from the often overlooked World War I; for those of you not familiar with the song I have included a video below.