By Jeff Keeling
When East Tennessee State University’s football team heads to the locker room at halftime of its first game against Kennesaw State Sept. 3, another long-dormant traditional staple of fall football will have its turn to shine. That is when ETSU’s marching band, expected to be around 180 strong, will take the field for the first performance of its “We’re Back” themed halftime show.
ETSU alumnus and three-time drum major Dr. Joe Moore came on board just more than a year ago to rebuild the marching band. Monday, two days after a mini-camp for the drum line and a month before full band camp, Moore said the process has gone well so far. He has recruited through social media and even moreso through visits to schools and band clinics.
“We’ve had a very positive response from students, directors and area alumni,” Moore said. “Everyone seems to be very excited about the return of the marching band.”
The band will include some ETSU upperclassmen who have joined as well as freshmen and even some Northeast State Community College students. Moore said a consortium agreement with Northeast State allows for music students there to join the band since the school has no marching band.
“That’s giving them an opportunity to do that, and hopefully they’ll transfer over here at the end of their two years.”
Some students have performance-based scholarships – and everyone will need to perform.
“We have a very short amount of time to put together a pre-game show, a halftime show and all our stands music with a bunch of kids who haven’t played music together before. It’s a little daunting,” Moore said.
At the half, the band’s numbers will include the “Back to the Future” theme. The movie is celebrating 30 years, and a former ETSU marching band used the same song. Also in the show will be a version of AC/DC’s “Back in Black,” a modern version of the Beatles’ “Get Back,” and an original drum solo written by ETSU alumnus and percussion director Logan Ball. The finale will be from the Firebird Suite.
“That’s the story about sort of a triumphant return, so it’s a good way for us to cap off our show,” Moore said.