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First band on skates plays last show of year

The game ended, and the Brown and Colgate hockey players unlaced their skates in the locker rooms after a 3-3 tie. But the small crowd stayed in its seats and waited.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, friends and alumni," a voice yelled over the loudspeaker. "Presenting an organization that's trying not to get cut from this year's budget, it's the Brown University - guess we'll be replacing that drum with a garbage can - Band!"

For the last time this season, the Brown Band took the ice carrying flutes and clarinets, trumpets and tubas. Some of them raced out on hockey skates while others barely stayed balanced on their figure skates. In a performance that could be best described as organized chaos, the band played for over 10 minutes. In between songs, the announcer read a script making fun of movies, the Sharpe Refectory and the Quinnipiac band.

Band President Andrew Marshall '10 said the Brown Band, which has played on skates four times this season, is the only band in the country that plays on skates. The Princeton and MIT bands also do shows on the ice, but they play without skates, and the Brown Band Web site proclaims, "We are proud to be the world's first ice-skating band."

Marshall isn't certain when the band started skating. "I know it goes back at least 30 years, because my mom was in the band, and I know they did it then."

After his mother told him the band used to do themed ice shows, Marshall decided to do a "Day at the Beach" show last year. All of the band members traded in their brown and red rugby shirts for bathing suits before they took the ice.

"I was going to wear just a bathing suit, but I ended up wearing these Hawaiian boxers instead," Marshall said.

The band's performances aren't just limited to shows after the game. During face-offs and intermissions, the band plays everything from the Beach Boys to Offspring.

Just before the last minute of each period, the band yells, "5, 4, 3, 2, 1 - 69 seconds left and Colgate still sucks." The announcer then comes over the loudspeaker: "One minute left in the period." The band finishes its chant, "And Harvard sucks, too."

During an intermission during Saturday night's game, the crowd had nothing to cheer for while they waited for the hockey team to retake the ice for the third period. But then the drums started up.

Music blared out of the band's saxophones, tubas and trumpets - one of which wore its own Brown foam finger. An old man stood up and bounced his hips to the rhythm of "Stacy's Mom." Two students danced in their seats as they sang out the words.

When Marshall talks about the band, his face lights up. A Providence native, Marshall has watched the band for years.

He said he went to a game with his father when he was 11 or 12 years old and saw a baritone saxophone in the band. Marshall, who had just started playing the baritone saxophone, pointed out the instrument to his dad, who told him to go ask the band member if Marshall could play the instrument.

"I played a Brown bari sax, and I was hooked," Marshall said.

In fact, the band was a major reason that Marshall decided on Brown when he was looking for colleges. "I thought, 'I want to join a Brown Band,'" he said. "But only Brown has a Brown Band."

The band also plays for basketball games during the winter and at football halftimes in the fall. But playing on the ice adds an extra challenge.

"There's usually someone who will fall every show," said Band Vice President Sam Winograd '11. He once spilled when his lyre fell and he tripped over it.

Former band member Jay Levin '08 MD'12 said he never took the ice on skates because he knew what would happen if he did. "I'd fall flat on my butt," he said.

After watching the show at the Colgate game, Levin said he was very impressed by both the music and the skating.

Friday's ice show was the last time that the band seniors will take the ice.

"It's tough to leave," John Cucco '09 said. "There was a small crowd, but it was meaningful for me and the rest of the seniors."


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