TSU takes the field Sept. 26 during 49ers-Rams game.
NASHVILLE (TSU News Service) – They have marched in presidential inauguration parades and thrilled audiences across the country with their showmanship and musical versatility. They have played halftime shows for the NFL in front of thousands of fans from Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, and in their hometown of Nashville, Tenn.
Now the Aristocrat of Bands from Tennessee State University can add St. Louis to the list of venues played when they march into the Edward Jones Dome Thursday, Sept. 26 and take the field at halftime during the nationally televised game between the San Francisco 49ers and the St. Louis Rams.
“This is a real honor,” said Dr. Reginald McDonald, acting director of Bands. “There are a lot of college bands in the country and only a very few ever get the chance to play in this type of venue. We are excited to perform in a different market and let the Midwest know what TSU is all about.”
The opportunity to play during halftime, according to McDonald, came about because the band will be in St. Louis for the Gateway Classic football game later that week, and he was looking for another venue to play and help spread the TSU name.
While reading the newspaper, he noticed that the Rams were playing a Thursday night game on the NFL Network and jumped on the opportunity to make it happen. The staff contacted the senior director of communications for the team, who just happens to be a TSU alumnus.
“We contacted Artis Twyman who has been with the Rams since 2003 and approached him with the idea,” explained McDonald. “He let us know within two days that we would be performing a six-minute show.”
While the students and staff are excited about appearing in primetime and performing in front of a national audience, it won’t come easy and will take a lot of hard work. The freshman band members arrive the beginning of August, with upperclassmen arriving Aug. 18. The band will have two weeks to prepare for the first home game, the John Merritt Classic, on Sept. 1, and then devote practice time to the four performances they have scheduled in St. Louis over a tree-day period.
“We will have 12 days to put together the NFL halftime program, the pep rally for the Gateway Classic and parade, then a separate halftime show for the classic,” added McDonald. “All the performances will be different, and will surprise and thrill the crowds. It will be exciting for everybody.”
The Aristocrat of Bands have been performing NFL halftime shows in Nashville for the Tennessee Titans since the team relocated to the state, playing at one or two home games each season. As ambassadors of the University, the performance in St. Louis, according to McDonald, will enable the band to spread their recruiting reach to the Midwest, especially since many may have not been exposed to the high-energy performance styles of an HBCU marching band.
“This is the first time we have been to the area and people will get to see the showmanship that is the Aristocrat of Bands,” said McDonald. “This is an opportunity for us to recruit in a different area, perform in a different part of the country that we usually don’t get to, and show that TSU is the best marching and performing band in the country.”
The Aristocrat of Bands will perform during halftime, Thursday, Sept. 26. The game between the 49ers and Rams will be televised on the NFL Network beginning at 7:25 p.m. CDT. They will also perform during halftime of the Gateway Classic, Saturday, Sept. 28, beginning at 2 p.m. also at the Edward Jones Dome.
Since its inception in 1946, and subsequently becoming a show band under the administration of second TSU President Dr. Walter S. Davis, the Aristocrat of Bands has been featured at many international and national events, including half-time shows at several NFL games, Bowl games and Classics, and Presidential Inauguration – the latest that of Bill Clinton in 1993.
Featured Image: by Rick DelaHaya, TSU Media Relations