ETI: Strike Up the Band!

What's a WVU football game without the Mountaineer Marching Band? Duke and Jimbo talk trumpets, trombones and tubas with Jay Drury.

Duke: Hello, I'm Duke.

Jimbo: And I'm Jimbo.

Duke: Jimbo and I are going to stay away from "Outrageous Predictions" and focus on something a little more serious, The Pride of West Virginia – The Mountaineer Marching Band. Jimbo and I had a few minutes with their leader, Jay Drury.

Duke: Jay, thanks for your time. Are you ready for some tough questions?

Jay Drury: I'll try to answer your questions as best as I can. I may have to use some "coach-speak" to answer any "tougher" questions. As Coach Rodriguez says, "Stay Humble, Stay Hungry!" I do want to thank for you for continued interest and support in the band. We are always happy to help out our fellow Mountaineers any way we can!

Duke: All right let's get this started. The band won the Sudler Trophy in 1997, but where would WVU rank if they came out with a Top 25 for Marching Bands?

Well guys, we are very proud of our program, and we would always like to think we are one of the top programs in the country. We work hard every year to get our kids to never take our reputation for granted so that we work hard to consistently remain one of the top programs in the country. There are several really good college bands with great traditions, and we feel very confident that we are one of them.

Jimbo: When the opponent's band is present at a game, do you and the band look at them and appreciate their music or do you look at them competitively and think, "They can't touch us!"

Jay Drury: That's a good question. Human nature is naturally going to dictate that we want to compare ourselves with the other groups we see. One of my mentors, and the man who really put our band "on the map" - Don Wilcox - always used to tell us when I was in the band that "we hope the other band goes out and does the best show they have ever done, and then we need to go out and do the best show that we have ever done." The kids always get fired up whenever we meet up with an opposing band, but we always try to have a healthy respect for the group and what they do.

I would not be totally honest with you, however, if I tried to tell you that we don't really get revved up to defend our turf when we meet up with another band. They don't call us "The Pride" for nothing!!

Duke: Besides WVU, give us your top three marching bands nationally and in the Big East.

Jay Drury: Boy, you all are really trying to get me to put my foot in my mouth with these questions, aren't you? I am not sure that I can really answer that question, as it would really be unfair to the many other good bands who I don't mention. I will "plead the fifth" on the Big East bands - they are really too close to home. All of the directors in our conference seem to get along very well and we all have a good respectful relationship with each other. I will just say that there are many different styles and ideas in our modest sized conference, and all of us work very hard at what we do.

As far as the top programs in the country, the Sudler Trophy has been awarded to most of these top programs already, which is more rewarding than for me to name them with my pick!

But seriously, there are many really good college bands in the country, and we are honored to be considered in that company. Some of our favorites with such a rich history and tradition like ours would be Michigan, Texas, Ohio State, Alabama, and Illinois - just to name a few.

And don't forget the energetic and hard working groups from the Historic Black Colleges, such as Florida A&M, Grambling, Southern and those guys. They are really getting some great recognition for what they do after the success of the movie "Drumline" a few years ago. That is what makes it so hard to compare college bands - there are so many different styles, and many bands of different styles are really good at what they do. The "Big 10" style, with their high steps and old school traditions, the exciting dancing of the show style bands, and the traditional military style of groups like Texas A&M are all special in their own ways. It is really hard to pick the best programs over all.

Duke: Besides the new uniforms do you have any changes or surprises that you can share with us for the upcoming season pre-game?

Jay Drury: Let me start by saying that there won't be any big changes in the pre-game show! That is one of the quickest ways I know for a WVU band director to get run out of town!

Our halftime music will be new again this year, including lots of different music of different styles. We try to play something that everyone will like at some point each season. We are going to do some movie music from the biggest movies of the summer and fall, some cartoon music, a little bit of jazz, a little bit of "latin" music, a touch of patriotic music, a traditional march, and even a holiday music show as we enter our December home game this season.

We have several new selections for the stands this year, as well as some new short themes to try out on the crowd as well. We have really tried to get a fresh new crop of music for the stands, as well as keeping around a few old favorites.

Jimbo: What road trips will The Pride be taking this year?

Jay Drury: If the funding works out, we are hopeful to be taking the band to both the Louisville game and also to Heinz Field to play at the Pitt game. It is so expensive for us to travel with the rising costs of fuel and hotel rooms. We are also hoping to make a couple of other stops around the state in Kingwood, Buckhannon, and at Laidley Field in Charleston. And not to put any more added pressure on an already hyped season, but we hope to be traveling to somewhere warm to play in January with the Mountaineers as well!

Duke: Jay how is "Band Aid" going?

Jay Drury: Band Aid is going well, but we are not quite there yet. As fans might know, we are hoping to raise about $270,000 for the new uniforms and we have just surpassed the $200,000 mark! We really appreciate all of the wonderful support of Mountaineer fans everywhere. If anyone was thinking of contributing and had not done so yet, this would be a great time as we enter the last days of the drive.

Duke: Jay thank you for your time and we're wishing The Pride the very best this season!

Jay Drury: I just would like to tell all of the Mountaineer fans out there that we really appreciate all of their support, and we want them to know that our kids are working hard to bring them another great season from "The Pride." Our band camp ended last week and our kids are off to a great start this season. They are excited to perform for and entertain thousands of screaming fans at Milan Puskar Stadium, and more importantly, they are excited to support the Mountaineers. Here's to a great season for everyone!

Let's Go Mountaineers!

Duke: All right Old Grads and Young Lads, "The Pride" is ready for the Marshall game. See you next week!

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