Troy University’s marching band, Sound of the South (SOTS), will perform its first football halftime show next weekend at the home opener against Alabama State.
This year’s performance will feature four pieces: “Radar Love” by Golden Earring, “Heartbreak Hotel” by Elvis Presley, the traditional folk song “House of the Rising Sun” and “Birdland” by Joe Zawinul in Maynard Fergusson’s arrangement.
“So these songs, we thought that these were all fun tunes and that they would all go well together, but that it would also give us a chance—like in the case of Saturday on the 9th, when we have a short amount of time—it will still give us a good show to play one or two of these tunes,” said Mark Walker, director of bands.
The tunes are selected from popular suggestions from students and faculty, according to Walker.
“The one that gets me pumped the most right now is ‘Radar Love,’ ” Walker said. “There’s no real reason for that, I just like the opening of that, but ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ is great because it’s got that slow grungy section at the end.
“It’s very, very cool. ‘House of the Rising Sun’ —when we get that laid down, that’s gonna be awesome, and ‘Birdland’ —that’s gonna feature some of our trumpet players and they are unbelievable players.”
Katelyn Smith, a junior English major from Andalusia, took up trumpet for the first time when she joined SOTS her freshman year at Troy University.
“Before that, I played percussion, but now I’ve switched to trumpet and it’s a very difficult instrument,” Smith said. “It’s really hard to control your breathing while you’re marching especially in a fast song like ‘Radar Love,’ but it’s great. I like it.”
Students who are in SOTS are required to attend a weeklong band camp in August and an hourlong practice every weekday, no matter the weather.
“We go (inside) if it’s like lightning, but no, we stay out there if it’s raining,” said Toye Johnson, a sophomore music education major from Pensacola, Florida, and a marching piccolo.
“I love it. Some people might disagree, and when we are out there during the band camp, be like ‘why do we do this, we hate it,’ you know, but when you get at a game or in uniform, it’s OK. This is what I wanna do.”
Sammy Alday, a senior music education major from Donalsonville, Georgia, a drummer and a conductor for SOTS, said his position provided unique leadership experience.
“It’s one of the best things in the world when you have 365 of your best friends on the field you’re conducting,” he said. “Sometimes (the band) does feel like a monster, but you’re the one up there trying to tame it.
“There’s something about being a part of something this gigantic but knowing that you still matter—like Dr. Walker knows most of us by name, you know—and it’s just fantastic to know that you are a part of this and you actually matter, you’re not just a person with an instrument.”
SOTS will be performing its halftime show during the first home game of the season in the Veterans Memorial Stadium on Saturday, Sep. 9 at 5 p.m.