Ohio University’s Homecoming Weekend can mean a little something extra to alumni who participated in band during their time on the bricks.
Whether they marched across the football field each week as part of the Marching 110 or grooved on stage with a jazz ensemble, band alumni can relive some of those experiences this weekend during Homecoming festivities.
On Saturday morning, former members of the 110 will reunite to march through Athens in the Homecoming Parade. They will follow that performance with two more performances during the football game — one at halftime and one post-game.
If you go:
What: OHIO vs. Bowling Green
When: 2 p.m., Saturday
Where: Peden Stadium
Admission: Free for students, $35-$40 for non-students
What: Alumni Jazz Jam
When: 10 p.m., Saturday
Where: Casa Nueva, 6 W. State St.
This year, the 110’s game performances will pay tribute to a special anniversary. Forty years ago, the band became the first ever college marching band to perform at Carnegie Hall in New York City. The Alumni Band will play and dance to “Play That Funky Music,” which was played during the landmark performance in 1976.
The remainder of the halftime performance will also honor 1976 as the band performs tunes from the movie Rocky which was released that year.
Josh Boyer, assistant director of the 110, said the band will welcome between 400 and 500 alumni home this weekend.
“We’ll have alumni here (for Homecoming) week from every year of the band from 1967 to last year,” he said. “We’ll have members from the original Ohio University Marching Band as we consider today, in our style and our uniforms from 1967. There will be some alums that come back that are even older than that, from even earlier in the sixties. So really, we’ll have almost 55 to 60 years of alumni here."
Boyer said the alumni and current students always have a great interaction that is based on respect.
“The students respect the alumni for what they did and what they began, or what traditions they kept going,” he said. “They laid the foundation for what we build on every year. The alumni look at the students as carrying on that tradition. It’s essentially, at its core, the same band that it’s been for many years.”
Boyer said he believes alumni continue to return for Homecoming year after year because of pride.
“I think that everybody who’s marched in the band is proud of their accomplishments, proud of their experience that they had here,” he said. “We always talk about coming home, and I think that’s very true with the Alumni Band. They’re coming back to experience what they loved at this university.”
Trenton Thacker, a sophomore studying music education, will be playing his saxophone alongside his mother this weekend, who is a 110 alumna herself.
“I always got to hear about the 110, and then for me to come follow in (my mother’s) footsteps and to perform with her side by side, it’s like a flashback,” Thacker said.
And Thacker will also be playing alongside some other alumni when he performs in the Alumni Jazz Jam at 10 p.m. on Saturday night at Casa Nueva, 6 W. State St.
The jazz concert, which is in its fifth year, will feature two ensembles of current students and one of alumni.
Matthew James, a professor of saxophone and jazz studies and the director of one of the student ensembles, said the jazz concert is a fun get-together for former jazz band members to socialize and challenge themselves musically.
“It’s a quick coming together of former friends and students to make music on the fly, in the jazz tradition,” James said. “Everyone can just kind of socialize and interact and that casual atmosphere really promotes the current and former students getting together and talking.”
Neil King, who graduated from OU in 1994 with a masters degree in music education, will be returning this year for the Jazz Jam for his second time.
King is a current high school band director and performs and directs professionally in the Morgantown Jazz Orchestra, in Morgantown, West Virginia. He said he especially enjoys talking with current students when he returns for the Jazz Jam.
“It’s always fun answering their questions and seeing them excited about music,” he said.
King said his favorite part about Homecoming is catching up with old classmates and professors, and meeting new faces, too.
“It’s always nice to be back in Athens," he said.