Getting The Band Back Together*


An old-friends selfy, taken about 10 seconds before we went onto the field for a pregame Alumni Band Boomer Sooner. That’s 1984-86 Drum Major Dondi Cupp in the middle, and Brian Britt on the right. An ace drummer back in the 1980s, Brian is now Director of the Pride of Oklahoma.

It had been 30 years since I played my trumpet in front of 80,000 or so rowdy spectators.  Fortunately, expectations are modest for the Pride of Oklahoma’s Alumni Band homecoming performance.  I hadn’t practiced much, but like anyone who’s ever donned a Pride uniform, I can play “Boomer Sooner” in my sleep, even three decades later.

The Pride had a rough couple of years in 2013 and 2014, with a new Director that turned out to be controversial and short-tenured.  Predictably, the alumni had strong and varied opinions about how best to deal with the situation.  The University’s fairly brilliant solution was to convince my 1980s friend and bandmate, Brian Britt, to come back and take over for good.  Our Pride is in good hands.  So this year’s alumni band homecoming was a one of the biggest (and best, I’m told) ever — a reunion, a reconciliation, and a celebration.  I made it a priority to be there.


The real, current Pride of Oklahoma

The sports pages the next day described the amusement of the alumni band as a perennial hit.  Hopefully, we’re back in a mode where the band alumni make the newspapers only once a year.  Maybe I’ll become a regular, too.

The phrase “Boomer Sooner” is repeated fourteen times in our famous fight song, and the song itself echoes through the stadium dozens of times before, during, and after every game.  But to true Sooners, “Boomer Sooner” never gets old — even if the folks playing it do.  Spending a beautiful fall day on the OU campus is a sure reminder of all the reasons to be proud of the place.  Live on, University!






The Pride’s student leader — the Drum Major who now does that famous pregame “strut” down the field — is Kyle Mattingly, the son of of two of my old bandmates.  (Sorry about the background:  It’d difficult to do ANYTHING at OU without getting one of the many NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP banners in the picture.)


A seemingly major breach of stadium security:  If you held a credible-looking musical instrument and wore a crimson polo, you could “march” right onto the sidelines.  Of course I abused the privilege.  That’s me with the Texas Tech “Raider” mascot in the last image.




My mobile phone and the relaxed mood actually allowed me a to take a “selfy” in the middle of the field in the seconds before we started.  I felt a little bad for my lack of discipline and decorum until I looked at my photo and saw those two young women behind me who had abandoned their assigned spots to take a picture together.



Finally, here’s an image — stolen from a bunch of Facebook shares with my apologies to its uncredited creator — of what we the alumni looked like on the field.  Squint and you’ll see me in the middle of the second row.


*This modified Blues Brothers quote had multiple apt meanings in this context.