You begin to hear what is coming before they reach you. The Ole Miss Drumline is just one part of the Pride of the South Marching Band and, perhaps, the most noticeable.
Beginning in 1928, drumline musicians have always strived for excellence, although the drumline is sometimes overlooked. Students work hard practicing for many field shows and the Grove Stage Show before every home game.
Larry Gooch, a staff member in charge of the percussion, enjoys the performances.
“Getting to see all of y’all out there performing is really rewarding,” he said, “and I really enjoyed it because I saw how hard you all worked every day and did not complain.”
Being in the drumline has many perks, like attending football games off campus free of charge. But in order to do this, one has to tryout.
The tryout is different every year and pushes each player to their limit. The line is put together by matching the players’ abilities to get the cleanest look and sound between snares, basses, tenors, and cymbals.
Along with going to games, another perk of the drumline is The Hype. This is a shark head puppet on a handheld vacuum. You will see it on the Grove stage and with one player during each game.
Ben Brashear, a freshman member of the drumline, explained.
“The Hype is what gets us pumped up for anything,” he said.
While being a member of the drumline comes with many perks, it is a lot of hard work, and members miss out on some things, such as the majority of the Grove scene on game days. While everyone is tailgating, drumline members are at the band hall preparing for game day festivities.
“Yes, you do miss out on most of the tailgating,” said Gooch, “but I think that the accolades that come with being on the drumline, including going to games, make up for missing out on the pregame drinking.”
Being part of the Ole Miss drumline, one has to practice many hours daily.
“At the beginning of band camp, I stayed up all night to get one part right,” said Brashear.
In many cases, being part of the drumline is something some members have wanted to do since they were children. Gooch said he “beat on pots and pans with wooden spoons.
“Looking back, I believe that is where I developed the love for drums,” he said.
While everybody is different in their own way, there is always something that tips off the dream of being a drummer.
One of the biggest things that the line does is their Grove stage performance. This performance involves a warm-up, two cadences, Double Beat 9000 and Rebel Beat, and then the Hotty Toddy cheer. This is right after the Walk of Champions and before the full band Grove Show
“That Grove Show is awesome,” Gooch said. “I get emotional every time. It just builds and gets the crowd so fired up for the upcoming game.”
After marching and getting to Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, the drumline prepares for pregame, stand tunes and the halftime show. During the game, the drumline must constantly pay attention.
In order to have a good program, the people in charge either make it or break it. While the drumline is just one part of the Pride of the South, the success of the band and line comes down to the directors. David Willson and Randy Dale push each player to their fullest potential.
“The staff here wants you to succeed musically, and if not more, personally,” Gooch said.
With Oxford steadily growing as an arts scene, the Ole Miss Drumline plays a major role by bringing more musical people to Lafayette County.
“A lot of people leave this state for bigger places to get more exposure,” Gooch said, “but you can make it from a small place in Mississippi if you truly believe that you can make it.”