"Thanks For The Memory!"Bob Hope? No! The John Marshall Alumni Band, and they are indeed stirring up memories of high school days with sights and sounds for thousands of former Marshallites - sights and sounds that most thought were long gone and forgotten. Well, the good news is that you, too, can reflect and enjoy a fun - filled trip down the memory lane of your high school days.
Here is how JMAB started . . .
After a rocky beginning, Howard Miller's ('57) tenacious determination to resurrect the Band finally came to fruition in January 2007. Howard's love for the Band showed no bounds as he quickly sought to secure a regular meeting place for this fledgling group of over-the-hill musicians (we might still be able to brace, but forget sucking up the gut!). After Howard promised his pastor we all would join his church - Central Baptist on Courthouse Road - we were granted permission allowing weekly use of one of the fellowship halls. We've been there ever since and affectionately refer to the hall as the Band Room. The truth is, most of us were complete strangers to each other. Our common ground is the fact we all were Rats in the Corps and served our tour as a Cadet in the John Marshall High School Band. Thanks to Howard's efforts, we have been able to renew old friendships, make new ones, and grow into a tight group.
Ray Snow's ('57) class was having their 50th John Marshall High School Reunion at the Acca Temple on September 14th, 2007. This was to be our premiere performance in front of school alumni, and Ray exercised every bit of arm-twisting persuasiveness he could to recruit as many members as possible, resulting in a band of 32 strong on the night of the reunion. Needless to say, we sounded good and were a huge hit! The successful engagement at the Class Reunion of 1957 helped strengthen Howard's dream that the Band could indeed stay together, working toward the good cause of preserving and exchanging memories from that rich and historic time in Richmond when there was a John Marshall High School Cadet Corps.
We are different from other community bands in Richmond in that we do not perform a concert in front of a quiet, sit down audience. Okay, they are sitting down, but once the audience hears, "It's show time!", they are immediately caught up in the excitement of the performance. We begin the show with a drum cadence that leads into school fight songs, marches, pep songs, a mild derogatory TJ bashing, a hypothetical football scene, and of course, a special song recognizing our former Cadet Sponsors, Let Me Call You Sweetheart. To those in attendance who did not go to JM, we bestow upon them Honorary Alumni Status after they join in and sing our beloved alma mater - Dear Old John Marshall.
We always include some of the spirituals that the Band would play when the Corps attended Saint Paul's or Monumental Church. We marched from the Armory to church putting our best foot forward. Man, we really looked good! Little did we realize how much of an impact our life in this Corps of Cadets would mean to us as we aged and watched our American school systems change. We were too young to see the blessing given to us - this opportunity to be a John Marshall Cadet.
We also highlight our men and women in uniform who are serving our great nation both here and abroad. We call this segment our USO Tour. Our musical tribute is unique and rewarding to us as well as those in the audience who stand while their branch song is being heralded. It's the one way we can show our respect and gratitude to the Armed Forces.
The last portion of our show begins with two exciting marches, followed by a musical fantasy trip to the Caribbean (no joke...bring plenty of lotion), then the gala Sing-Along, which is always fun.
As mentioned, JMAB is a different kind of band. We are in the "making people happy" business, and we have succeeded every time. The audience is thrilled not only from hearing tunes of yesteryear, but also because they get to sing their hearts out. And sing, they do! When a tune is finished, their eyes sparkle and their smiles are full of joy and satisfaction because we've put them in such a festive mood. We'll often hear, "Play it again!" - words that make the entire Band's hard work worthwhile.
With us at our weekly evening rehearsals are our Band Girls. They are all grown up now, but their supportive presence is always welcomed. They willingly put themselves into service for the Band at concerts and provide great treats for us during practice. We loved them decades ago, and we love them now.
The John Marshall Alumni Band is now in its second year. We have performed for more than 2000 people at venues such the Cadet Memorial at Hollywood Cemetery, Christmas 2007 at the Downtown Marriott, two Christmas concerts at Central Baptist, Forest Hill Park Market Day, Imperial Plaza, Covenant Woods, McGuire VA Hospital, the John Marshall Cadet Corps 2008 Reunion, Hermitage at Cedarfield, American Legion Post 125, the Masonic Home, Saint Mary's Woods, and the 1957 and 1958 John Marshall High School Reunions.
Yes! The Boys from JM Band are back, they are having a ball, and they are performing at a venue near you! If you are a downtown JM Band Alumni and are interested in joining our ranks as a 1st Class Cadet, please contact Howard Miller '57 (804-739-3086), Ray Jenkins '55 (804-536-6857), or Carlton Hudson '60 (804-513-5277).
These are the words from the JMAB March (2008), and they say a lot:
We're the men who,
Once were boys from,
The John Marshall High School Band.
We were noted,
For our playing,
As the Best Band in the Land!
Though horns have rusted,
And valves have frozen,
We're still here as you can see.
So...Who do we root for?
Who do we toot for?
Who gives a hoot? We do!
Hope to see you!
The Boys in the BAND
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