RIVER FALLS, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – The marching band is back. The dozens of new fresh faces excited to be a part of history at UW-River Falls now helping rally up some school spirit after a decades-long hiatus.
Each of these 56 members of the new marching band are making history at UW-River Falls. The last time this campus had a band was in 1990 and director Tom Barnett says it was necessary to bring back the tradition after decades of absence. He explains, “For year after year after year, for 20 years, I heard students say, I want to come to your school, but you don’t have a marching band.
Freshman Jamison Gallmeier added, “This is our debut year and I’m really excited to make some history with these fantastic musicians and Dr. Barnett himself.”
There wasn’t much time between making the band and performing at UW-River Falls first football game. Freshman Stevie Jenkins explains, “My high school band, we had like three months to practice before we ever stepped foot on the field.”
Dr. Barnett added, “It was tricky for that first game because we had five full days together.”
Former UW-River Falls Marching Band Director, Larry Brentzel, says, “I think it’s wise of the university and fortunate the university has someone like Tom. He took the initiative to get this started on his own, and it’s going to provide an educational opportunity for these kids.”
Brentzel was the director for the first marching band that had a two-decade run starting in 19-70. Brentzel adds, “He has a group of very, very enthusiastic, very capable students, and I’m sure it’s going to grow from this point forward.”
Barnett says, “I couldn’t be happier with what they performed, their excitement. I mean, you just seeing behind me, just having a great time.”
Gallmeier adds, “It provides another opportunity away from the classroom. We want to continue education and bring music to the community and really enlighten it.”
Dr. Barnett says reviving the band sparks memories for those who were on campus for the first era of the band, “For those who have been in band, they get excited, and they tell me these stories from 20 years ago like it was yesterday.”
All while giving space for this band to march to the beat of its own drum. Dr. Barnett adds. “And I just have a smile on my face thinking, well, that’s what I’m doing now, creating these memories for the future Falcon graduates.”
Barnett says UW-River Falls also offers an athletics band minor. He says it’s the only one of its kind.