Expect a new era, marching band hits the right notes

Renee Rosenow

You’ve heard them play. You’ve seen them strut their stuff. They are the Blugold marching band. Four days of the week the sound of instruments is heard blasting away on the field next to Haas Fine Arts Center.

The players are moving in time to their steps and the dancers are moving around like professionals. It all looks like poetry in motion.

Watching every move on a raised podium, with a headset and counting off numbers above their heads, is Randy Dickerson, the Blugold marching band director.

He shouts, “1 and 2 and 3 and-!” Suddenly the playing stops and the band starts singing, “Shot through the heart and you’re to blame, darlin’ you give love a bad name!”

They are practicing Bon Jovi for their upcoming performance in Chicago, which is one of the biggest exhibitions in the country.

Dickerson then talks about changing the count, making the steps faster. No one complains, they just return to their positions and start over. Everyone pays close attention, knowing that if they don’t, it can affect the whole band; and they work hard to perform at some of the biggest events of the country.

The band members seem to be at ease with Dickerson, talking with him while they are practicing as if he was a friend, not the director of their choreography.

All the members seem to be comfortable with one another as well and it looks as if they’re hanging out playing instruments, rather than having a required hour and 15 minute practice.

Senior drum major Mike Renneke said he’s been involved with the band for four years.

“The thing I most enjoy about being a part of the Blugold marching band is the sense of teamwork,” he said.

Dickerson and Renneke both agree that the collaboration of the 232 members is the best part of it all. They added that they have been getting stronger as a band throughout the seasons.

“It gets better every year,” said Renneke.

The Blugold marching band has been a part of many important events. Last year they performed in several European countries, including playing for the Pope in the Vatican City.

This year they traveled to Green Bay and played in front of hundreds of Packer fans during the halftime show of the season opener at Lambeau Field.

Besides that performance, they will do an exhibition at the Lincoln-Way Invitational Field Show in New Lenox, Ill., this Saturday, and performing at the Metrodome Grand Championships, the biggest exhibition in the Midwest.

Sophomore saxophonist, Zachary Lieske, said that the shows are by far the best part of being in the band.

“I saw them do a show when I was back in high school,” he said. “It was a big part of why I joined.”

He added that rehearsals can be fun, but challenging at the same time, an attitude many of the members share. The performances make it all worth it, he said.

Renneke said that Homecoming is one of their biggest events, and the band ranks it as one of their largest exhibitions. This year the band will play what they have named “The Greatest Songs of the Rock Era,” including “Welcome to the Jungle,” by the Guns N’ Roses, “Carry on My Wayward Son,” by Kansas, and “Mr. Roboto,” by Styx.

The Homecoming game is scheduled to be at 1 p.m., Oct. 4 at Carson Parkas as the Blugolds face UW-Oshkosh.