Friday, August 10, 2012

Rock band camp: UAB Marching Blazers prepping rock ’n’ roll half-time show

It’s been a hot, muggy and sometimes muddy week of rehearsal for the 200-strong UAB Marching Blazers, but that hasn’t diminished their enthusiasm. They’re working on a show for the coming football season, “Rockin’ with the Blazers,” that will have fans dancing in the seats with the music of The Beatles, Queen, Van Halen, Nirvana and Foo Fighters.

“The half-time show this year is basically a history of rock,” says Assistant Director of Bands Gene Fambrough, D.M.A. “It’s a chronological show, so we’re going to start off with The Beatles’ 'Get Back.'” The show will open with a drum line and “start with a bang,” Fambrough says. “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen, “Panama” by Van Halen, a slower version of Nirvana’s “Smells like Teen Spirit and “Rope” by Foo Fighters will round out the program.

“The students are super-enthused about it. That’s the goal. It’s going to be fun,” Fambrough says.

This year’s band includes a guitar player, a bass player and drum set to complete the rock sound. Some of the students may not have known the songs’ titles, but knew the songs when they heard them. The musicians, majorettes, Blazerette dancers and color guard have practiced marching techniques, breathing exercises and drill formations each day from 8 a.m. until noon, then working on music inside the Hulsey Center from 2 to 5 p.m. They’re back on the field each night from 6 to 9 p.m., putting all the moves together and refining their overall performance.

Director of Bands Sue Samuels, Ph.D., says this year’s preparations are all about producing a great band that supports the Blazers and UAB’s new football coach, Garrick McGee. The band also plays school spirit songs and fires up the crowd.

“We are excited about supporting our new football coach, our team and school,” Samuels says. The Marching Blazers will perform a preview show for students free from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 11, on the Campus Green. See a full UAB Blazers football game schedule at

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