Brown-Forman Midnite Ramble
Saturday, November 5, 8 p.m.
The Kentucky Center, Whitney Hall
Tickets start at $20
If you Google "HBCU marching band," your search returns over 1 million results, including discussion forums and websites devoted to "protecting our history, preserving the craft."
The touring production of DRUMLINE LIVE provides a historical perspective on African-American music, including Gospel, Motown and Top 40 sets, in addition to fiercly competitive segments highlighting precision percussion and military-style riffs.
You don't have to like football to enjoy a good half-time show. And you don't have to have HBCU ties to enjoy or understand the message of DRUMLINE LIVE. Pride, precision, teamwork and joy in performance are the keys to this show, which features star performers from many of the top schools in the South.
The following article appeared in 2009, explaining the origins of the tour.
"Don Roberts is the kind of man who knows a good idea when he sees it.
It was in 2002, when he was working as a band consultant on the set of the movie "Drumline," one of the first major motion pictures to capture the energy and electricity of the black college marching band experience.
"You could just see the talent on display, and the energy building up, and I started realizing: There are people out here who have never experienced anything like this before, where 70,000 people crowd a stadium to cheer on marching bands."
What started as a most unlikely proposition -- to replicate these high-octane battle-of-the-bands for the theater stage -- has now come to fruition in the form of the inspired and energized stage production "DrumLine Live."
"Just a couple weeks ago, we were in Kerrville, Texas, where the median age is 50-plus and the audience we were playing to was at least 95 percent white," said Pete Date, tour manager. "But the response was just overwhelming. Two consecutive performances were sold out, and by the time we have this big exit in the show, the crowd was just erupting with applause and emotion. Here you had performers and an audience that couldn't be more different, yet this show was something fresh they could all identify with. That's when I knew we had something big."
Brian Snell, the show's animated music director and drum major, was once a marching band member himself, a tuba player with the Florida A&M University band. He says he knew "DrumLine Live" had major potential when he sat in on the early casting sessions and saw the jubilation of the musicians, who had all but assumed their performing days were over.
"For people like me, who went to school and did band for a few years and then hung it up, 'DrumLine Live' offers a way to tap into that fountain of talent, to show people like me that there's actually a future in this if you want to keep doing it."
Judging by the interest he says he's already received from people in the theater world, Date envisions "DrumLine" as something akin to "Riverdance," a show with a regional look, feel and style, just waiting for a proper introduction to the general public.
Snell takes it one step further.
"For those who don't live in the Southeast, who haven't had a chance to catch black college football games, or even high school games in some areas, the energy and the talent here is going to blow people away."