Blugold Marching Band gets their groove on

Danielle Ryan

The UW-Eau Claire Blugold Marching Band gave a rousing performance at a stage show in Zorn arena, one of its final events of the season.

People of all ages gathered to watch the one-and-a-half hour show Tuesday night, and often stood and clapped with the tunes the band played. The performance was divided into five segments:

 Entrance, featuring songs such as ‘On, Wisconsin,’ and ‘Star Spangled Banner’

 Game Day at Carson Park, which contained typical pep tunes the band plays during football games

 Get Your Groove On: Music You Can Dance To, featuring songs from this year’s halftime shows

 Greatest Songs of the Rock Era, a collection of last season’s tunes, and

 In Honor of America, a patriotic section honoring the different military branches.

“It showcases all aspects of the band,” said Randal Dickerson, the director of the BMB. “Everything we do on the field, in the stands and the support for Blugold athletics.”

To prepare for the event, senior drum major Mike Renneke said a special platform was built in Zorn Arena to accommodate all of the band members. Plenty of time was also spent practicing, he added.

“We devoted all of last week to rehearsal for the stage show, in addition to the countless hours we put in all season,” Renneke said.

About 225 of the bands 272 members were present for the concert, Dickerson said. The figure includes the staff members and the color guard, which also performed during many of the band’s halftime songs.

Dickerson said the BMB is the largest band of the NCAA Division III schools. It is also the fifth largest in comparison to the bands of schools in the Big Ten, he said.

But while the band may be one of the largest, Renneke said it often goes unrecognized on campus.

“Half of campus doesn’t know what a great thing they have,” he said.

The band also plays an important role on campus, Dickerson said. It plays in front of about eight thousand high school students a season, making the BMB what he called “musical ambassadors.”

“It (BMB) provides support for the whole university,” he said. “We’re a recruiter.”

In addition to four Blugold football games, the band also plays at Eau Claire’s International Festival and various exhibitions both in the area and elsewhere, Dickerson said. Still, there are misconceptions about what the band plays, he said.

“People see us do field shows, and some think that’s all we do,” Dickerson said. “That’s not anywhere near close to all we do.”

The band’s theme this year, and one of the main portions of the stage show, was “Get Your Groove On: Songs You Can Dance To.” This, said Renneke, was perfect for the band.

“I think it’s a very appropriate theme for campus and the atmosphere we try to create for football,” he said.

Dickerson said one of the band’s strengths is its energy, and this was apparent during the performance. In addition to running into the arena and snaking around each other to their seats, members of the band often danced along with music. Many of the songs had various sections of the band leave the stage and play in front of it, including the tune ‘Shout’, which resulted in a trombone player lying on his back, legs kicking in the air, while playing.

The energy was apparent to the audience members too. Sophomore Abby Chilsen said the event was fun to watch.

“I thought it was awesome,” Chilsen said. “I love their energy.”

While the stage show is a fun event, Dickerson said the performance brings about mixed feelings.

“It’s bittersweet,” he said. “It means the closing down of another season.”

This fall, the BMB has one more performance at the home football game this Saturday. Later this spring, it will travel and play in various locations in Europe. But no matter what, Dickerson said there is more to come for the BMB.

“The future of the Blugold Marching Band,” he said, “is very bright.”