Nobody Does it Better

Bucky and "his" band.
dwm photo
It's time for the annual Badger Varsity Band show.

Bucky Badger, Director Mike Leckrone, backstage folks, and 312 members of the best band on the planet really know how to raise the roof on the Kohl Center.

It was only our third trip to see the Badger Band after years of watching the Public Television specials with highlights.

The show frequently starts with a bang.  This year it was the clang of a walker hitting the arena floor as Leckrone cast it aside (below) and leaped onto the conductor's platform.

Leckrone with walker, before
casting off (below).  dwm photo
Leckrone shared with the audience about a 'procedure' to remedy the effects of a heart attack earlier this year.  The 80 years young conductor has lead the band since 1969, and he wasn't about to miss the show which deserves to be on every Badger's must-see list.

It's a high-energy performance with a mix of stadium and arena fan favorites; pop songs; and performances by band alumni.

The three shows wrap up tonight in the Kohl Center at 7 in front of a packed house.

One medley featured songs which crested the pop charts at #2 called "Not Number 1."  Truth be told, it was a surprise to learn "Great Balls of Fire" didn't make it, that went to Danny and the Juniors' "At the Hop." (OK, but doesn't match Fire's rockin' rhythm and intensity.)
Alumnus Grant (left) and son Logan
Manhart.  dwm photo

Featured on trumpet, Badger Band alumnus Grant Manhart (now a college music director after a long performance career) and his twin sons.  (His boys are high school seniors, one has to think Chase and Logan would be pretty good on this stage next year.)

When you line one side of an arena with three hundred students armed with brass and percussion, a powerful wall of sound is created.  It washes over the audience matching their pounding hearts.

A roof-top Fiddler joined the band.
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Popular musicals from different eras, "The Lion King" and "Fiddler on the Roof" added theatrics of a different sort to the show as local performers joined the band.

There is something for everyone, but it seems like everybody responds to the sing-a-long tunes; "Hey! (Rock and Roll #2)" and "Hey Baby;" and getting excited with increasingly quicker versions of the Chicken Dance (a Wisconsin staple).

When you say Wis-cons-sin. You've said it all!
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There was a day, early in Leckrone's tenure as band leader when the Badger Marching Band was about the only reason to head to Camp Randall on fall Saturdays.

Their zany, free-form "Fifth Quarter" kept fans dancing and singing as the band took over the gridiron while band members played music and maybe some Nerf football at the same time.

Badger football and basketball has come along way, but the excellence demonstrated by the Varsity Band never wavers... it is #1!

If you can access Wisconsin Public Television, you can watch the show Saturday, May 6 at 7pm CDT.