They have marched in presidential inauguration parades and thrilled audiences across the country with their showmanship and musical versatility. They have played halftime shows for the NFL in front of thousands of fans from Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, and in their hometown of Nashville, Tenn.
Now the Aristocrat of Bands from Tennessee State University can add St. Louis to the list of venues played when they march into the Edward Jones Dome Thursday, Sept. 26 and take the field at halftime during the nationally televised game between the San Francisco 49ers and the St. Louis Rams.
The opportunity to play during halftime, according to McDonald, came about because the band will be in St. Louis for the Gateway Classic football game later that week, and he was looking for another venue to play and help spread the TSU name.
While the students and staff are excited about appearing in primetime and performing in front of a national audience, it won’t come easy and will take a lot of hard work. The freshman band members arrive the beginning of August, with upperclassmen arriving Aug. 18. The band will have two weeks to prepare for the first home game, the John Merritt Classic, on Sept. 1, and then devote practice time to the four performances they have scheduled in St. Louis over a tree-day period.
The Aristocrat of Bands have been performing NFL halftime shows in Nashville for the Tennessee Titans since the team relocated to the state, playing at one or two home games each season. As ambassadors of the University, the performance in St. Louis, according to McDonald, will enable the band to spread their recruiting reach to the Midwest, especially since many may have not been exposed to the high-energy performance styles of an HBCU marching band.
The Aristocrat of Bands will perform during halftime, Thursday, Sept. 26. The game between the 49ers and Rams will be televised on the NFL Network beginning at 7:25 p.m. CDT. They will also perform during halftime of the Gateway Classic, Saturday, Sept. 28, beginning at 2 p.m. also at the Edward Jones Dome.
Since its inception in 1946, and subsequently becoming a show band under the administration of second TSU President Dr. Walter S. Davis, the Aristocrat of Bands has been featured at many international and national events, including half-time shows at several NFL games, Bowl games and Classics, and Presidential Inauguration – the latest that of Bill Clinton in 1993.