The best marching band in the country (never mind Los Angeles) is about to get a prime time spot. The U.C.L.A. Marching Band will be featured on the season premiere of The Amazing Race. This year's edition will begin at College of the Canyons (coincidentally on the football field where I played my last snap - hate you, Saugus) in Valencia and the episode will air on CBS on February 23 at 8pm PT.
It sounds like picking a band to kick off the series was a no-brainer for the show's executive producer and co-creator, Bertram Van Munster.
The UCLA's Bruin Marching Band's track record made selecting the Bruin musicians an easy one, he said. "It was a straight shot because you guys are indeed really well-known," he said.
Van Munster was also impressed by the skill and experience demonstrated by band director Gordon Henderson.
"It was phenomenal," said van Munster. "To handle such a large group on such a large field and to have these musicians be so attentive and focused, it was just fantastic. It was fascinating to see. We were blown away by it."
Well, I'm not sure he should be that surprised. Has he ever seen them on Saturdays? #WOTT applies to our band, too.
Kicking off big events is nothing new for the UCLA Marching Band and the other great musicians at U.C.L.A., whether it is christening the new Evelyn and Mo Ostin Music Center on campus,
or setting the tone for the farewell tour for Mötley Crüe,
or opening the show in Staples Center for the biggest rock band in history.
The Solid Gold Sound is getting to be a pretty familiar participant on TV and movies.
Over the years, members of the UCLA Bruin Marching Band have appeared in a number of films, including "500 Days of Summer," "First Daughter," "That Thing You Do" and "Legends of the Fall." They have also provided music for soundtracks to "Silver Linings Playbook," "Struck by Lightning," "In the Line of Fire" and "Little Nikita," among others. The band has also been cast in commercials for the NCAA, McDonalds, FedEx, Macy's, Wendy's, Pepsi and Honda. They have also appeared in a music video for Destiny's Child.
That resume is certainly a lot more impressive than clinging to the coattails of some lame Fleetwood Mac song from 3 decades ago.
The U.C.L.A. Marching Band is a real treasure for our school (even if I crabbed maybe once or twice at them waking me up early on Saturdays outside my window in Sproul), and it's great to see our student-muscians getting opportunitieslike this.
"Our students have opportunities not a lot of others have," said Henderson, adding that these kinds of experiences also elevate on- and off-campus interest in the band and aid in the recruitment of new members.
It's a cycle of opportunity, he said. "The more well-known you are in the industry, the more of these kinds of things you get to do, and we've been on a roll the last several years."
"From commercials to paid gigs to opening with the Rolling Stones last May, I continue to be blown away by the amazing opportunities I've had as a band member," said Freesia Quezada, a fourth-year neuroscience student and alto saxophone player.
The band deserves its high profile and is a great ambassador for our school, so I have to assume that Dan will make sure that the entire band gets to Dallas for that big nationally televised neutral site football game this fall. I'm sure he insisted that was in the contract when he accepted that game, right?
This year's Amazing Race will have another Bruin connection beyond the premiere, too. One of this year's contestants, Brandon Villegas, is a Ph.D candidate in biomedical physics at UCLA. Yay, South Campus. He and his wife return to the show after finishing third in season 20.
Anyway, congrats to Dr. Henderson and our awesome band for being the first and only choice whenever Hollywood needs a big solid gold type of sound.