South Nine Jazz Ensemble

I had the opportunity last Wednesday to go to the Arturo Sandoval Jazz Club to enjoy some quality jazz played by the South Nine Jazz Ensemble. South Nine is made up of members of the Concert Jazz Band (CJB) here at UM, the top big band in the school. The band is made up of Augie Haas (trumpet/co-leader), Ryan Socrates (drums/co-leader), Steve Pardo (tenor Sax), David Palma (alto Sax), Jason Kush (bari-sax), Cisco Dimas (trumpet), Chad Bernstein (trombone), Joe Rehmer (bass), and Gabe Evens (piano). Garret Arrowwood and Mike Thomas were subbing for Chad Bernstein and Steve Pardo, respectively.

Unfortuantely, due to heavy traffic, I was only able to hear the last 20 minutes of the set, but what I heard was very impressive. The group played with a really good feel, and all the soloists were impressive. They played a few original compositions by Ryan Socrates, which were very impressive both in the actual composition and the style.

The group closed with a tune called “Chill,” a fun arrangement of the Dr. Mario theme and a jazz tune called “St. Thomas.” Here’s an excerpt of the South Nine Jazz Ensemble playing “Chill” at a different gig at Arturo’s, featuring Chad Bernstein on trombone:

The group is definitely talented, I’m looking forward to seeing them again! Check them out on the web at!


My apologies for the lack of posts in the past few weeks, as you’ll see below, it’s been a very busy time. It’s been a week and a half since my last post, and what a busy week and a half it has been. I’ll begin where I left off, with the FSU trip.

We arrived at the band hall around 6 am on Friday morning, most of us exhausted. There were, of course, some band members who were not tired, as they hadn’t slept all night and were still feeling the effects of lots of coffee and energy drinks. There were also, of course, some members feeling the effects of other liquids from the night before… but we won’t get into that. I was up late, but it was playing with my new copy of Sibelius music notation software. (You know you’re a music major when…)

Half a day later, we pulled into Disney’s Magic Kingdom-The Happiest Place on Earth! We pulled into the “backstage” area to prepare for our parade, where we were met by a Disney Representative who was our “guide” for the day. Of course, the number one rule of being a performer in Disney was that we must always have on our Disney smiles. The first thing I thought of was how difficult it would be to play the trumpet while giving a big, toothy grin… (You know you’re a music major when…)

Anwyay, the parade went off without a hitch, and we proceeded to the Disney All-Star Music Resort to check into our rooms. After a quick shower, it was off to Downtown Disney for dinner and some shopping with friends. Dinner was at Planet Hollywood, where the menu included chicken strips coated in Cap’n Crunch cereal and then breaded, and deep-fried Lasagna. Yum! It was one of the best meals I’ve had in a long time. After dinner we enjoyed shopping in Downtown Disney, and headed off to the park.

Our time at the Magic Kingdom ended up being quite short, as we were all exhausted by this point in the day, but we still managed to go on a few rides. Highlights included the Pirates of the Carribean ride, and the obligatory ride on It’s a Small World. We shopped some more, took one last look at Cinderella’s castle, and headed home for some well-needed sleep.

Of course, it wasn’t enough sleep, as we found ourselves waking at 5:30 am to prepare to get on the bus and head the rest of the way up to Tallahassee. The trip was for the most part uneventful, until we reached about 3 miles outside of the city limits, where we picked up a state trooper as our escort. That’s right, lights going and everything, we followed the state trooper through the heart of Tallahassee and past thousands of ‘Nole fans giving us the tomahawk chop. It wouldn’t be the last time we saw it that day…

We made it to the Civic Center safely, and ate a quick lunch before warming up and playing at the UM Pep Rally. After the rally, we got back on the bus and headed towards the stadium. We disembarked the bus and lined up to walk to the stadium. This was the tough part, as it was a 10-minute walk from our busses to the stadium, through crowds of bloodthirsty and *cough* not sober *cough* ‘Nole fans. While we waited for the drumline and tubas to get their instruments, we stood in our block and listened to some FSU fan give us a hard time using a megaphone from where he was standing. After 5 minutes of that, we were off and into the stadium without much conflict. Just lots of chopping and war-chanting.

The game, of course, was the best part. I’ll leave out the details or I’ll be here all night. End of story is ‘Canes win, 37-29, and take down FSU in their home stadium. Needless to say, the march back to the bus was a lot more fun. After dinner at a local buffet, we drove an hour outside of Tally to the hotel, and headed home the next day.

It was a helluva trip, that’s all I can say. Can’t wait to do it again next year, when the ‘Canes go to Gainesville to take on the Florida Gators in “the swamp.”

Go Canes!

It’s Gonna be a Good One!

This weekend, the UM Band of the Hour will be taking a trip up the state of Florida to help cheer on their team as the Hurricanes take on the rival Seminoles of Florida State University on Saturday. The trip will last 2 and a half days, and will include everything from a night in the “happiest place on earth” to our very own police escort. Here’s what’s planned:

Tomorrow morning, the band will depart UM around 7 am, after a 6:00 report/load time. We’ll drive the first 5-ish hours on Friday morning, arriving at 1:00 in Disney World. We’ll march in a parade down the main drag at Disney, and move to our hotel. After changing, it’s a night free in the Magic Kingdom, courtesy of Director Phil Clements and the UM Band’s pocket. Thanks, Mr. Clements!

The next morning we will complete the drive up to Tallahassee, and upon arrival we’ll play at a pep rally at a local Civic Center. This is where the fun starts! After the pep rally, the UM Band will have a police escort to the stadium, and we will proceed to do what I feel will be the scariest bit of marching I have ever done. We’ll have to march from our buses into the stadium, going past a plethora of inebriated Seminole-fans, while wearing about as much orange and green as we possibly can (see my profile picture for an idea of the uniforms we’ll be wearing)

In the past, this trip has led to FSU fans attacking Band members, trying to break the band’s ranks, steal instruments, and even attack color guard members. For the trip, we will be escorted by a police officer, as well as flanked by both our and FSU’s band graduate assistants.

Once we make it into the stadium, it’s time to do what we do best – support the football team! We’ll perform our halftime show just before the FSU band does. FSU has about 460 members in their band (we have just over 100), but we still have a cleaner, and more fun show, from what I’ve been told. We’ll see what the crowd of ‘Noles have to say about our dancing…

After the game, it’s a bus ride to Lake City, FL and the hotels (Lake City is a few hours outside of Tallahassee-this is another security measure for the band) for the night, followed by the long busride back home on Sunday.

It’s looking as though it’s going to be an awesome trip, though, filled with a lot of time on a bus, and some unique experiences.

Hmm, I have to be at the band hall in 8 and a half hours… I should probably get packing!

Lets all hope I’m back to tell you the stories on Monday!

A Day in the Life…

Yesterday, the Miami Hurricanes lost to the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets by a score of 17-14 at the Orange Bowl. It was another normal game for the Band of the Hour, though, and in this blog, I’m going to talk about the sequence of events yesterday morning/afternoon at the OB with the Band…

6:30 am: Time to wake up! Nevermind the fact that half of Miami is still partying from Friday night, there’s a big day ahead of us!
7:00 am: Student leaders report to the Band Hall
7:15 am: Rest of the band reports to the Band Hall, enjoys breakfast provided by Tau Beta Sigma (Co-Ed Band Sorority)
7:20 am: Process of loading buses begins
8:00 am: Buses depart UM for the Orange Bowl-a 15-minute drive
8:15 am: Buses arrive at the Orange Bowl, band members dress and enter stadium
8:35 am: Everything is loaded into the stadium, band moves onto field to take pictures
9:00 am: Pictures are finished, jackets come off and the band has a short rehearsal on the field
9:35 am: Rehearsal over, time for a break!
10:15 am (ish): Uniforms back on (minus hats, gloves, and gauntlets), band splits into two smaller bands, one going to each side of the stadium to play fight songs for the taligaters
11:00 am (ish): Tailgating is done, jackets come off, water comes out, time to relax
11:30 am: Full uniforms back on, plumes distributed, band members prepare for pregame
11:40 am: Pregame starts, the band makes the “U” on the field and spells out “MIAMI” and “CANES” while playing fight songs
11:50 am (ish): Band of the Hour performs the UM Alma Mater
11:53 am (ish): Band of the Hour performs the National Anthem, accompanied by “Maelstrom” men’s chorale
11:56 am (ish): Band forms a “U,” the base of which is at the big UM Helmet in the corner of the field where the players enter
11:58 am: Hurricanes enter the field, to the sounds of “Hail to the Spirit of Miami U” from the band
12:00 pm: KICKOFF!!
12:30 pm (ish): Shawnbrey McNeal takes a 4th and short run 39 yards and in for the ‘Canes… 7-0 Miami.
1:20 pm (ish): HALFTIME! The band performs their Latin show, complete with the “Miami Stomp” song/dance, and the fans love it!
1:40 pm (ish): Game resumes
2:25 pm (ish): By the end of the 3rd quarter, two Yellow Jacket TD’s have been scored by QB Taylor Bennett… 14-7 Georgia Tech
3:15 pm: The 4th quarter includes a TD Pass by Kyle Wright, and Yellow-Jacket FG by Travis Bell, making the end-of-game score 17-14 to the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.
3:20 pm: Band of the Hour plays through all the fight songs, then is joined by the football team (a new tradition) to sing the Alma Mater.
3:25 pm: Band of the Hour director Phillip Clements makes his announcements to the band, the band sings the Alma Mater as is tradition at the end of each week.
3:45 pm: Band members pack up and march back to the bus
4:00 pm: Bus departs for UM campus
4:15 pm: UM Band arrives back at the band hall, after an exhausting day of football and marching.

Why do we do it? Because we love to.

First Teaching Experience

Today I had my first college experience in actually teaching music. I had the opportunity to spend about a half hour sitting down with Maria, a 4th grade girl who had begun trumpet just a few weeks ago at West Lab School just outside of campus. Maria knew 4 notes, and in our half hour we almost doubled the number of notes she could play, as well as making progress on learning her first 3-note song. This, coupled with some breathing exercises and a break which included my modeling all my mutes for her, led to a very quick half-hour lesson. Maria is going to be a great trumpet player one day, she had a great tone for being a beginner, and an astonishingly good range! The most rewarding part, though, was hearing her tell me at the end that she had learned a lot. She had a big smile on her face when she walked back into the classroom.

This is why we do it.

In other news, I recently got back in touch with Mrs. Sue Rarus, my second cousin, but more importantly the Director of Research/Information with MENC. She also is a regular poster on the MENC Blog, which I would recommend to anyone interested in the music educators scene. It’s got some great ideas about music and teaching, and some nonrelated stuff too :).