The Things You Find on YouTube

I played sideline mallets in high school band.  Yep, I’m a band geek, and still have the jacket and letter to prove it.  Someone must have put some video up on YouTube, because you can see me, 17 friggin years ago, in a high school band competition.  I know it’s a competition because Nov 2 1991 was a Saturday, and Fridays were football games, and Saturdays were competitions.


On the sideline mallets, I’m the second in from the right.  The girl one in from the left I had a horrible crush on.  The first song in our show was “An American in Paris” by George Gershwin, followed by “Take the A-Train” by Duke Ellington.  I seem to remember the other one was the theme from Twin Peaks, then another bit called “Va Va Voom”.  The funny thing is, I think if you put me in front of a set of mallets today, I could probably still play bits of that show.

From band geek to gun nut.  It’s funny sometimes the directions life goes in.  The really funny thing is, I still enjoy competition, even though I suck about as much at shooting as I did at sideline precussion.

21 thoughts on “The Things You Find on YouTube”

  1. I was a bandsman in high school (We got straight “superiors” at State contest every year) and college, too, and was executive officer of the AFROTC band at Ga. Tech for a while, than which there is nothing nerdier.

    That said, what the fuck are sideline mallets?

    Do they have anything to do with the works of Kenneth Alford (PBUH), Or John Philip Sousa, or Karl King, or Henry Fillmore?

  2. Latter-day band nerds don’t understand the classic band nerd experience, playing the Fillmore trumpeting arrangement of the National Anthem at a good quick tempo in the Orange Bowl while a coupla F-4s fly over and light afterburners at “the rockets’ red glare.”

    1968, I think it was.

  3. I’ll do you one better. I continued my band-geekery and am now the head geek. I am a high school band director who also is a gun nut. It makes for some interesting conversations with my kids sometimes. :)

  4. Wow that “Mark time March and…” Got my legs to do funny things…..I just had me a marchin’ band flashback….I haven’t done that shit since college!


    Yeah I was on the convertable tuba in HS, Sousaphone for College. Good times were had by all!

  5. I played trombone in JHS, HS and even one year at college until I realized I was putting in over 9 hours a week for a 1 hour credit. Wife spun one of those baton thingies in her HS band (played Oboe too I think, but you know useful those are in a marching band)

    While in college, I had to drop the “band” and just go by “geek” because someone went and invented those PC things and the world changed.

  6. “That said, what the fuck are sideline mallets?”

    Dude, I played mallets in my high school band too. We called it the “front ensemble” though. Basically, we played all the percussion instruments that were not really possible to march with, like marimbas, vibraphones, timpani, etc.

  7. Our band was ToB (Tournament of Bands) where some percussion was on the sidelines. We did not march, which will make some marching band purists look down on me :)

    The marimba and xylophone bells, etc, were all on sidelines rather than strapped to someone’s body and marched in the field.

  8. Ah, ToB. I did BoA… but my wife’s school did ToB competitions. She also played in the front percussion ensemble.

    I never heard of a band being looked down on for having a front ensemble, although the dang snare drummers always though they were better than us.

  9. “although the dang snare drummers always though they were better than us”

    lol, that’s because we were! (just kidding). I played in HS. Good times…

  10. No… I meant we were looked down on my people who marched. We had to work, like, half as hard. While everyone else was out doing drills, we were sunning ourselves on the veranda :)

  11. Your twice my size . . . . yet I’m the one who played football?!?!?!?

    Back then I wasn’t as large as I am now. I’ve got probably 60 pounds on my high school weight. I was rail skinny back in those days.

  12. Wow. So that got me thinking and I looked. My high school band has a website. You may think, “Of course, they do,” but realize there were 88 in my graduating class (and I’ll give you three guesses what nationally known character was also in my class).

  13. Oh, yeah, I’m a marching band purist. I agreed with the band director, why do we have to have these “majorette” critters? Can’t they learn to play an instrument?

    On marching while playing oboes: Imagine stepping into a pothole and jamming that nice sharp set of double reeds up through yer soft palate, and into yer brain.


  14. Owhell, I’ll now soothe myself by cueing up “The Mad Major” by Kenneth Alford, performed by the band of H.M. Royal Marines.

    I’m thinking about you, John Donovan, you Mad Major, you!

  15. “We had to work, like, half as hard.”

    I remember loading and unloading massive amounts of heavy gear on every road trip, and all summer long for practices. Sure, while we were playing we didn’t have to carry as much or move around, but we did our share of lifting. I was always jealous of my wife’s band, though, because their marimas and xylophones had big off-road wheels.

  16. That’s true…. you forget about the moving. But small price to pay for not having to deal with being out in the hot sun all day during Band Camp doing drill.

  17. Well, at least yer not one of those saxophonists. As I recall, they couldn’t keep a beat to save their lives, were like “Intonation? What’s that?” and were quite crude and rude when it came to going after the gurlz.

    We had one for President, not long ago.

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