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Home > Spotlight > Stampede Showband at 2012 Rose Parade

Hard-working Stampede Showband starting 2012 at Rose Parade

Pasadena trip kicks off Calgary Stampede centennial celebration

By Ken Martinson, Founder

CALGARY, AB (December 15, 2011) — The Calgary Stampede Showband is officially known as Calgary's musical ambassador to the world, but it could also be called the hardest working band in the business. When the band starts 2012 by marching in the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade, it will be the first of more than 400 appearances planned for the coming year.

The Calgary Stampede Showband is active with field, parade, concert, color guard, percussion and small group performances. Photo by That number is not a typo. The Stampede Showband and its various ensembles average 400 performances each year, according to Mike Jewitt, director of bands for the Calgary Stampede Foundation. About 350 of those happen during the 10-day Stampede celebration in July.

"Between our flute choir, saxophone choir, brass choir, winter drumline, color guard, and various full ensemble performances, it equals 30 to 39 performances a day," Jewitt said. "The Showband and all its related entities add flair and energy to the Stampede park's already vibrant atmosphere."

For anyone not familiar with the Calgary Stampede, it's hard to describe the scale and magnitude without being there in person. A sense of pride and spirit invades the town. Restaurants set up western-themed facades in front of their buildings. Daily pancake breakfasts feed thousands free of charge. And the Showband seems to be everywhere. Visitors might encounter the musicians performing on the front steps of the Saddledome, in the Broadway-style grandstand show, in the late-night circus featuring fire and water, or as in 2011, at a special rodeo for Royal Couple William and Kate.

Beyond the Stampede grounds and throughout the year, the band represents the organization across the community and around the world.

"We aim to have each ensemble perform at two local area performances per semester," Jewitt said. "We get out into the community and interact with people in schools, community homes, a variety of places."

Since 1994 when Jewitt joined the band as a performer, the band has traveled to Spokane, Pasadena (2012 will be the third time), Chicago, The Netherlands, France, Germany, Austria, Japan and England. The band has also competed on the MACBDA midwest summer tour and last summer made its second appearance at the Portland Rose Festival.

Big Plans For 2012

Entertainment is a key component of every Stampede Showband performance, including this segment of the band's 2011 field show. Photo by In 2012 the world will be coming to Calgary, as the city is hosting the World Association of Marching Show Band (WAMSB) Championships in conjunction with the Calgary Stampede's centennial. Nearly 50 bands from around the globe are registered for various WAMSB events and the Calgary Stampede Parade.

"The 2012 centennial celebration is going to be absolutely phenomenal," Jewitt said, adding that the Showband is making plans to ensure its season is extra special.

"Our field show for the WAMSB competition will be a celebration of Stampede, depicting 100 years of Stampede history. Our music is being arranged by Carolina Crown arranger Michael Klesch, and our drill is being written by Phantom Regiment designer Jamey Thompson."

Jewitt also noted that the Showband is expanding to about 140 members for the 2012 season, up from 115 members in 2011. The band will be even larger for the Tournament of Roses Parade because the Band of Outriders alumni will perform with the Showband for a total of nearly 190 members.

Well-Rounded Season

While the Showband might receive the most exposure from its marching activities and appearances such as the Rose Parade, the program encompasses a full range of performance opportunities for members.

The Showband's annual season starts with rehearsals in late August or early September and climaxes the following July during Stampede.

"All the wind players participate in concert band from September through February," Jewitt explained. "We also run a winter guard and winter drumline. The pit percussion is involved with the concert band and winter drumline. Our small ensembles run the full year."

It's an extensive operation that is made possible with funding from the Stampede and a parent booster group.

"The Calgary Stampede, in partnership with the Calgary Stampede Foundation, provides the operational funds for facilities, staffing, equipment, capital purchases and music," Jewitt explained. "In addition, we have a wonderful supporting parent group called the Calgary Marching Showband Association which supports the kids for all their touring. They fundraise through 50/50 raffles, bingo, casinos and various small ventures to create enough funds to allow the members to tour around the world at a discounted rate."

Dedicated Members

The Calgary Stampede Showband used a flame-throwing trumpet during its 2011 late-night circus show titled Ignite. Photo by With the Showband's demanding schedule and reputation for high standards of performance, prospective members go through a nearly four-hour audition. Auditions are held at the end of May before a current season is over so new members can observe the Showband during Stampede and have time to prepare for fall rehearsals.

"Prospects go through a marching audition, a musical audition and a personal interview," Jewitt explained. "A panel of approximately 25 judges reviews the candidates and determines whether a candidate is ready to be in the Stampede Showband."

Fortunately there is great passion for marching in southern Alberta and prospects have opportunities to gain musical and marching experience before coming to the Showband. Calgary is home to a "family" of bands that—although technically separate organizations—work together well and even share staff members.

Two bands are officially under the Stampede umbrella: the Calgary Stampede Showband which has members aged 16 to 21, and the Band of Outriders which has alumni aged 22 to the mid-50s.

There are two recognized feeder groups: the Calgary Stetson Showband which has primarily high school students and the Calgary Round-Up Band which has primarily junior high students. Jewitt noted that 98% of Showband members started in the Calgary Round-Up Band when they were in junior high school. Other groups in the region, such as the Red Deer Royals, also carry a tradition of excellence and provide training for future Showband members.

With its distinctive white hats and red boots, the Calgary Stampede Showband was a favorite at the 2011 Portland Rose Festival. Photo by "The marching arts and pageantry are going strong in southern Alberta," Jewitt exclaimed.

"Showband members work very hard and have a wonderful work ethic. They truly love the experience of being here," Jewitt said. "We'll have members throughout the year not know if they want to come back the next year. And they come back for the insanity and the craziness of what is Stampede. They sign back up in September and wouldn't miss it for the world."

Tune In

Catch the Calgary Stampede Showband on the live broadcast of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade beginning at 8:00 AM (Pacific) on Monday, January 2. Follow along with the 2012 Rose Parade lineup.

The Calgary Stampede Centennial Celebration will be July 6-15, 2012, and the WAMSB events will run July 7-10, 2012.

Photos by

Copyright 2011 All rights reserved. This material may not be published or redistributed without permission.

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