Archive for June 2010

Band Geeks Only

Some recordings of our parade music from band camp.  They’re a long way from the Sheherazade of our spring concert!  Percussion is way over-emphasized in these due to the room where we did the recording, but it’s OK by me because they bring it righteously.  We’re a little light in some areas (we march about 45, half the size of our concert band.  And only one clarinet?!  Calling Mrs. Perils…), but I hafta say, in my unbiased opinion, the trumpets ride into each song like the damn cavalry.  You really have to be a band geek to play more than one or two of these, or else you want multiple 80s-era flashbacks.  I’m posting them mostly for my marching-band brother, and maybe my mom.

I think these are going to be really fun in the parades we have scheduled this summer.  As we practice marching through the neighborhood near our rehearsal space, we pick up a camp following of kids and adults as they come out of their houses in slack-jawed amazement (and maybe annoyance), and then follow us gleefully from block to block.  I like to think we’ve given them a little ray of sunshine in this extended spring of gloomy weather.

Jai Ho, the theme song from the movie Slumdog Millionaire. Interesting mixture of Indian rhythms and motifs and pop-song refrain.

Pick Up The Pieces. Your Average White Band.  Nice trumpet breakout in the middle:

Mas Que Nada, a sultry samba.  It’ll be summer here sometime… I first heard this in college by Sergio Mendes/Brasil 66. We do a drill routine during the 16-bar percussion feature:

Let’s Groove - Earth, Wind & Fire.

Bad Romance, Lady Gaga. Not an 80s song.

Don’t Stop - Fleetwood Mac:

Soak Up The Sun - Sheryl Crow:

Americans We - Henry Fillmore. Just to show you we can play a straight-on Fourth of July march. And follow the dynamics now & then:

Gimme Some Lovin’:


Drumline cadence when we’re marching, not playing.  You really have to be a band geek to listen to this:

Camping, Musically

Still chewing on May here.  One of the fun things we did was band camp with Rainbow City Band.  It was held over a weekend at Fort Worden in Port Townsend (where most of the movie Officer and a Gentleman was filmed), and it represents sort of a breakpoint between the sit-down concert season and the less-structured marching season.  The fun started on a Friday night with a music rehearsal (of course), then a talent show that sounded like a gas.  We missed it, because I was out of town the week before, and didn’t arrive at SeaTac until nearly midnight Friday.

Mrs. Perils & I got up at 5 Saturday morning in order to catch a ferry at 6:10, as I really wanted to attend all of the planned activities on Saturday.  And planned they were.  Even as a late arrival, I still participated in 1 sectional, three music rehearsals and 3 marching/playing rehearsals in about 36 hours. In between, there were festive mealtimes in a dining hall where we sat at various tables and really got acquainted with other band members.  Our Tuesday rehearsals are so tightly focused, and the space is so cramped, that I actually had not met many of the people from the other side of the band. I was gratified by the warm and ready acceptance of Mrs. Perils, and of us as an entity.

The piece de resistence occurred Saturday night. The theme for the weekend was Alice In Wonderland and, after our post-dinner music rehearsal came a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party.  All of the communications about Band Camp had encouraged costumes, but since I was out of town the previous week I never got anything together. This, as it turns out, was a huge mistake.  The costumes at the party ranged from clever to extravagant.  There was a fully-formed green caterpillar with a hookah, Tweedle Dee & Dum, a Cheshire Cat, various playing cards including the Queen of Hearts with a formidable-looking axe, and one or two Alices in drag.  The costume that tickled me the most, however, was a guy in street clothes with a pregnancy tester hanging around his neck.  When we asked what he was supposed to be, he looked at it, frowned, and said, “I’m LATE! I’m LATE! I’m LATE for a very important DATE!”  There were numerous tables with various board and card games going on, and every 20 minutes or so, the Mad Hatter would scurry around the room forcing people to move and mix with others at different games.  Among all of the wine and other beverages and hors d’oeuvres, someone uncorked a huge barrel of a deadly concoction called Strip and Go Naked (contents: beer, lemonade, vodka), as if this occasion needed more encouragement.

We slept in a large dormitory building that used to be barracks at the Fort, and the organizer thoughtfully polled everyone regarding their bedtime/noise level preferences, and arranged our accommodations accordingly.  We were fortunate to land at the end of the “quiet” folks, as there was apparently an after-party to the tea party that left one wing of the band decidedly fuzzy Sunday morning.

At one point during our marching practice, we were approaching a chapel in which a wedding had just been consummated, and it was our (or their) misfortune that we were just finishing Bad Romance (Lady Gaga).  We tried to make it up to them by playing Over The Rainbow and Don’t Stop, but I’m not sure they were amused, and it seemed politic for us to hie ourselves to another part of the facility.  One other amusing thing: a guy who played French horn during concert season is playing Glockenspiel for marching, explaining that he’s bisectional.

We got a lot of work done, and had a great time.  Even got several beach walks in (click to enlarge):

The trumpet section…and the perspective of the drumline

Western Union

I see that May has gotten away from me, but here’s a sorta-Memorial Day post anyway.  The last time I visited my mom, I was startled to run across this whilst rummaging in drawers and boxes looking for the gold ingots I know are around the house somewhere (click to enlarge):

The “W PHILBIN” is my great-grandfather, and “PHILIP” is my grandfather. He would have been a little over 16 at this rendezvous with law enforcement.  This episode was never mentioned among the tales of hard work and Depression-era gypsy-wandering that my grandparents related.  The story was that, when he turned 13, my great-grandfather bought him a “suit of clothes” and turned him out of the house to fend for himself.  My great-grandparents were middle-class people, so that treatment seems to be more of a custom of the time than an economic necessity (although they had 7 kids). The presumption was that he found his way into the workforce and began building the stable life that I observed him living.

I know that my grandfather knocked around in the southwest sometime in the years before the Navy and meeting my grandmother in Waukegan, but I never knew what exactly he was doing.  Was this the end of that sojourn, a white flag of surrender, or was it another excursion entirely?  What did he do to attract the attention of the St. Louis police?  Was he incarcerated, or in protective custody?

Despite the best intentions of Memorial Day, people slip inexorably through our fingers, their essences yellowing and crumbling in the closets of our recollection.