Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Sports Venues and House Bands

Does anyone remember the house band at the Bradley Center? It was StreetLife, featuring Warren Wiegratz. The band was set in one of the corners of the lower level, and they played during halftime at Bucks games, and during the breaks between the action on the court. They would also be called upon to play the national anthem from time to time. Mr. Wiegratz is a Milwaukee-based jazz musician, and still performs festivals and private parties throughout Wisconsin. His band takes me back to a time when sports venues had house bands.

The Green Bay Packers had a house band at Lambeau Field through the 1995 season. They would be the bumper music for kickoffs, and at times the brass section would squeeze out a tune during time outs. The musicians that made up the band were all very talented. You had to be, if you were going to tough it out in the cold and snow.

Badgers Marching Band at Camp Randall

When you head to Camp Randall Stadium, it's none other than the Badgers Marching band that will entertain you. It's unfair to call them a "house band." They are one of the best marching bands in the country, performing in parades and stadiums throughout the United States. The Fifth Quarter is when they get their chance to shine. It comes right after Badgers home games, and many fans stick around for the performance.
As time marches on, it seems like house bands are disappearing. Stadiums need more than a dixieland or jazz ensemble to keep fans excited. Sports fans expect to be blown away by more than the sites and sounds of the game on the field. Tucking a band in the corner of a venue just doesn't get the crowd fired up. There may always be a place for a marching band, but house bands at sports stadiums have probably seen their best days pass them by.

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