It’s October 13, 2007, and I’m standing on Meade Field, trumpet in hand, in line with fellow alumni band members. The day conjures up memories of 1971, my freshman year, when I first stepped onto this field along with 144 other spirited members of That Ram Band.
So here I am with about 30 other loyal music aficionados playing “Jungle Boogie” for current Band Director Brian Cardany. What brought us all together for this two-minute routine? The football game, the crisp fall New England air, the applause? No, we return for the camaraderie of sharing this brief moment with our fellow band members and for the chance to relive some of our best college memories.
In the summer of 1971, right after high school graduation, I arrived on campus for summer band week. Nervousness about embarking on a college career was stressful enough without the added trepidation of heading up to the Fine Arts Center to try out for That Ram Band, aka “the Best Band in the East.”
Senior band members made me feel this was the greatest tryout of my young life, and that I should feel honored to be a part of this new corps d’elite. The music permeating the room was infectious—sounds of our signature intro song, “The Horse,” as well as classics from Blood, Sweat & Tears and Chicago.
By fall it all comes together as we hit that first note and begin the fast high step onto the field to the theme of “The Horse.” We hear the crowd go wild; we feel the beat and movement of our entire squad. We’re all in sync and playing our hearts out!
This is what it’s supposed to look and sound like: Watching Lee Brown high stepping out there with his drum major baton and tall furry hat blowing in the breeze, seeing The Ramettes and flag twirlers prancing along as the announcer screams, “That Ram Band has taken the field!”
Today our music may not sound quite as crisp and clear as it did 30-plus years ago, but Brian Cardany gives us a big grin and thumbs up. I’m pumped! My playing is not bad for a 54-year-old who doesn’t pick up the horn as often as he used to. This is a special reunion: No matter what, we’ll always be members of That Ram Band.
So if you’re a former band member, take the Rhode back to Kingston and join with fellow band alums to make the music happen.
Me, I plan to travel that Rhode for years to come.
By Jeffrey A. Ross ’75