I LOVE marching bands. I have always been the kind of guy who likes to watch a halftime show. Even when I was playing football I would find myself watching the marching band during halftime. Coach Miller would have us under a tree blathering on about what we were going to do during the second half, what adjustments we were going to make and so on, and I would be marveling at the choreography and low-level majesty of whatever band of whatever school we happened to be playing. If I was lucky we’d be playing at home so I got to see the award winning Perry Hall Marching Gators. They’ve been in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and stuff.
I can say without reservation that my favorite marching bands are the independent, community based marching bands that populate Baltimore City. Bands like the Edmondson Village Steppers and the Westsiders are amazing to watch. These bands work HARD. They often appear to be a rag-tag group of musical commandos. They often can’t afford to outfit everyone but that just makes the experience more real, more visceral, more…..punk rock. They definitely need to have a documentary done about them. Maybe a reality series?! Can you imagine the drama of struggling marching bands and the personalities that drive such endeavors? Human beings with actual character, fire and personality; Not some stupid, lifeless Rachel Zoe or 14 million kids and counting or another cake show. For shit’s sake, who cares??
This film/TV project is my idea so let’s not steal it people.
I started writing this post because of an odd little experience I had last night. Taking advantage of the good weather I decided to go for a good, long run. As I left, I heard the unmistakable rumbling of bass drums and the snap of snare drums. I decided to run towards the noise because I will always stop to watch a marching band practice. On a few occasions I’ve heard a drum corps practicing while I’m driving and I’ll find them and I just park the car and get out and watch. It was coming from Northern Parkway and I thought that maybe a band was working it out on the open fields that surround Pimlico Race Track. Once I got those fields in view, I saw nothing and the music had stopped. It’s less than a mile from my front door to Pimlico so I just couldn’t imagine they managed to stop and pack up an entire band but maybe that’s what happened. Who knows?
I continued on my run through the Pimlico/MT Washington neighborhood and got a real good sweat going. In a few minutes, the music started again. It still sounded as if it was coming from the area around the race track. At this point in the run I wasn’t in position to jaunt up there again and in a few minutes I was actually running around MT Washington Village. I forgot all about the marching band sounds that had taunted me earlier as I now had to get my thick body up a series of hills. This took at least 20 minutes as I lumbered up Sulgrave Avenue, Kelly Ave, Cross Country Blvd and others. As I finally crested Old Hilltop, I heard the rumbling and snapping again! I was now a sweaty, exhausted man who is POSSESSED with finding the source. Up to Northern Parkway and….nothing. Music is gone, no band, nothing. What is there is a bunch of road paving equipment and one of these hulking pieces of machinery is a tracked vehicle like a military tank. It started rolling up Northern Parkway and the sound of this metal hunk sounded oddly enough like drums as it grinds over pavement. I had troubling believing that this is what was making all that wonderful marching band like noise. I shrugged it off and jogged back to my house. After I walked in I went on to my lanai(patio) to rid myself of the smelliest of my gear and I will be damned if it didn’t start again! I mean it was really going! Clearly, these were the drums and whistles and shouts of a marching band just blowing it out. Anna heard it too! I was flabbergasted! I almost jumped in my car to drive farther up Northern Parkway because Anna had suggested that it might be coming from NorthWestern High School. If that was true, the sound was carrying about two miles as NorthWestern is on Park Heights Avenue or there about.
In my mind, this will always be the Phantom Marching Band that follows me around.