This Monday, America inaugurates its 44th president, Barack Obama, with full pageantry, and plenty of pompy circumstance. I was at both Clinton's inaugurations and Obama's first, and I'm totally into it. A patriotic medley and bashing cymbals ignite my central nervous system, and I'm bawling -- in the best way. I'm wrapping my arms around total strangers, and at some point, I usually end up on someone's shoulders. It's all good.
Swearing-in aside, it is the parade, and especially the magic of a marching band that takes me to that, place. That communal-crowded vibe, together in belief for a common good, all reason to celebrate. It gets inside of me, and on some cellular-level, I'm changed for the better.
I've gotten carried away. And I am on deadline.
This Monday, Jan. 21, 2013. The 57th Presidential Inaugural Parade, history in the making. Hoosier-style, heads held high, our local musicians marching more than a mile-and-a-half to represent. Local band members will join national fellow musicians, proud to be a part of, for the second time, making history.
Local members from Pride of Indy Bands have every reason to be proud. They sound great, and they're more than ready. Enthusiasm and excitement is at an all-time high. After all, this is history in the making. They've been here before, and have been invited back.
Travis Tester plays the melaphone, the marching band version of the French Horn. He's also on the National Board of the Lesbian and Gay Band Association, the national organizer, hosting the D.C. event for members.
Tester marched in 2009. What was that experience like?
"Life-changing. It was absolutely incredible," he recalls. "Especially because in the first one, we were the first openly gay association that was ever accepted into a presidential inauguration parade."
NUVO Music Editor Katherine Coplen first broke the story two weeks ago, reporting that the LGBA "holds the distinction of being the only open LGBTQ group in history to be invited to this event, " Coplen writes, referencing that first appearance at the 2009 inauguration.
"In the historic parade down Pennsylvania Avenue, which follows President-elect Barack Obama's swearing-in ceremony on the steps of the Capitol. Local representation will come from 8 members of the Pride of Indy Bands, based in Indianapolis since 2005, who will be joining the combined group. We are proud to represent all of Indianapolis in the parade and will be marching with the Circle City in our hearts," said Pride of Indy President Bill Leschorn.
I enjoyed filming their last rehearsal before they headed for D.C.
"It's really a powerful thing to be asked back to do something again that was already a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," says Laura Blake, assistant artistic director, and trumpeter. (Check out her solo in the video.)
Here's a sneak peek at the set list: expect to take it to The Edge of Night, courtesy the Lady herself, Ms. Gaga. Along the mile-and-a-half route, the band will play some marching tunes including, of course, the "Battle Hymn of the Republic." For front and center, the presidential reviewing stand, the group wanted something classic, choosing "Tonight," from the musical West Side Story, by composer Leonard Bernstein.
"We're going to represent not only the Pride of Indy Band, but we're going to represent the state of Indiana," Tester exclaims. "These (musicians) put their heart and soul into this."
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