IHS band takes show to Memphis

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 10, 2004

In Memphis, it is all about the blues.

That is what the Ironton High School Band learned on their recent trip to the southwestern Tennessee city to perform in the 45th annual Liberty Bowl.

On Sunday, Dec. 28, 50 members of the IHS band and 12 chaperones hit the road for the 9-hour bus trip to Memphis to perform with Lou Rawls and 11 other high school bands during the

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halftime show.

The whole trip was not all fun and games, however.

The band spent all day New Year's Eve at the Liberty Bowl Memorial Coliseum preparing for and then participating in the halftime show. Lou Rawls sang a medley of R&B classics, accompanied by the mass band. Ironton residents with a sharp eye may have caught a glimpse of a few band members on ESPN's broadcast of the game.

The band had two extensive mass band rehearsals to prepare for their halftime show, building on the music that they had learned ahead of time. All the hard work did little to dampen the enthusiasm.

"It was worth it," said Jeff DeLong, a senior trumpet player. "It was great to be with so many people who enjoy being in band."

From Graceland to the Hard Rock Cafe, from the Rock 'n Soul Museum to a performance at the Liberty Bowl, the students heard the blues in many different forms.

Along the way, they also sampled some of the city's best barbecue at Corky's and toured Elvis' Graceland estate. The group also learned about Memphis.

One popular stop was a local rodeo. A first for many of the students, it was a highlight of the trip.

"My favorite part of the trip was the rodeo," junior Tracy Mays said. "Those cowboys were amazing."

The band also marched in the Liberty Bowl Parade down Memphis' famous Beale Street. The parade was followed by a trip to a downtown mall, Peabody Place, and Jillian's restaurant that features three floors of games and activities.

The trip finished up with a New Year's Eve party for all the band members that included dinner and dancing.

Then it was time for a sleepy ride back to Ironton.

"This was one of the most well-behaved groups of kids we have ever taken on a trip," IHS Band Director Bill Rath said. "They worked hard to raise the money for the trip and they really got their money's worth. Everyone had a great time.

"The Band Boosters also helped us out by paying for several meals. Area businesses and service clubs made donations, too. All the chaperones worked hard to keep things running smoothly. We couldn't have done it without any of them."