Hey What’s That Comin’ Down the Track? The Georgia Redcoat Band (Video)


Hey what’s that comin’ down the track?

According to The History of the University of Georgia Redcoat Marching Band , in 1935 Louisiana Governor Huey Long transported the “Golden Band from Tigerland” to Athens for a Southeastern Conference football game between the Bulldogs and the Tigers.

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The sight of the massive LSU band, then one of the largest marching bands in the nation, inspired alumni and University officials to fund and equip the Georgia Band with more instruments and members.

The rest is history.

From a 26 piece military band formed to support campus military events in 1905, the Georgia Band grew into the 430-member University of Georgia Redcoat Marching Band – the indisputable Heartbeat of the Bulldog Spirit.

The Heartbeat is fashioned from many hearts, all beating as one. Many Hearts that longed to be Redcoats before college prep classes and SAT tests were a thought. Many hearts that lined the Dawg Walk, listened to Redcoats reminisce of glorious Dawg Day afternoons, and sat criss-cross – noses inches from a TV screen – trying, wanting somehow – anyhow, to be a part of the Redcoat Band.

A huge machine that’s red and black .  . .

While many hearts are called, yet few are chosen.

For every Redcoat dream that comes true, another lifelong dream is crushed – or, perhaps, hopefully only delayed. Even with the Redcoats tremendous size, auditions leave nearly one out of every two Redcoat dreamers on the sidelines when band camp begins each year.

For the chosen members of the Redcoat Band, the labor is intense and the reward great.

The Redcoat year begins with band camp. While the football team is practicing, the Redcoats prepare the pre-game and halftime shows for the season. (Each member rehearses musical parts individually before arriving at band camp.) Head Football Coach Mark Richt noted the Redcoats dedication in The University of Georgia Redcoat Band 1905 – 2005. “I think the Redcoat’s practice longer and harder than we do.”

Coach Richt’s gracious remark likely is an exaggeration, but the time commitment is great. During game weeks the Redcoats rehearse eight hours, including a two-hour Friday evening rehearsal traditionally attended by many early arriving and neighborhood fans, plus a two-hour Saturday morning rehearsal which often begins at 6:00 AM. (Something to remember when that whippersnapper pledge at Gamma Alpha Pi says he can’t make a noon kick off.)

Sep 28, 2013; Athens, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs fans line the Dawgwalk area awaiting the players entrance to the field before the game against the LSU Tigers at Sanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

After grabbing a biscuit or a barbeque, depending on the rehearsal time, the Redcoats get a few hours to tailgate with family and friends before the Dawg Walk.

The appearance of the young Redcoat at the family tailgate is a prideful moment for mom and pop – many of whom were themselves Redcoats and all of whom lived the Redcoat dreams of their child. (It is time for me to confess – while I woke every fall Saturday to the recorded 33-rpm sound of the Redcoats and the Glee Club at Sanford Stadium volumes, no, I was not a Redcoat; I merely come from a family of Redcoat lovers.

But, my son dreamed the Redcoat dream, at the age of 10 setting himself on a 10-year quest to march across Sanford Stadium with the Redcoats. The first time he ran across the Sanford Stadium turf was my greatest moment in forty years of Georgia football game attendance.)

There’s nothin’ finer in the land . . .

The Dawg Walk is a Redcoats finest hour. Heroes in red and black pass within inches of their most fanatical supporters, who inspire with Bulldog classics while family and friends watch nearby.

Former Redcoat Katie Greene shared her sentiments: “It’s a special moment lining up for the Dawg Walk, playing my heart out because I just knew it would help pump the players as they walked by.”

The Redcoats are in place in Sanford Stadium when the Bulldog faithful arrive, ready for the serious but joyful work of leading the Bulldog Nations’ s support of the Georgia football team.

In Hunter Lacey’s Red and Black article, A Day in the Life: The Redcoat Marching Band, Hunter Hulsey describes a football game from a Redcoat’s perspective. “Pregame is a huge deal, because that’s where the tradition and the University spirit songs are. We really play cheerleader for two hours and really push the team and the crowd.”

With various tunes, the Redcoats respond to the game’s events. “If we’re on defense, and somebody on the line sacks the quarterback, we play ‘Big Bad Leroy Brown. A lot of people don’t look this deeply into the game, but we have maybe two or three dozen songs in our book that we play at every game.

The Redcoats are still there after the game to celebrate the game and to serenade the departing Dawg faithful,  the sounds of Bulldog favorites echoing across the walkways and streets outside of Sanford Stadium.

The dazzling single tapestry of team, band, and fans now known as Georgia Game Day was first stitched, and later embroidered, by Roger Dancz.

Redcoat Band Director Roger Dancz created the Redcoat After the Game tradition – a concert event as well as the name of Redcoat Band recordings. Once a Bulldog fan chooses to linger and listen toTara’s Theme, the trademark Redcoat finale, they know: there is nothing finer in the land than to be a part of the Georgia Redcoat Marching Band.

Go Dawgs!

Many have contributed to make the Redcoat Band “The finest band in the land,” but none more than former Redcoat Band Director and UGA Director Bands Roger Dancz.

His vision of “music in motion,” supported by his wife, longtime Director of the Redcoat Band Auxiliaries, Phyllis Dancz , and his distinctive musical arrangements – a tradition continued by former Redcoat and current staff arranger Tom Wallace – created the unique Redcoat style.

But what decades ago endeared the Redcoat Band to the Bulldog Nation was Dancz’s insistent and persistent work to support all Georgia Bulldogs in Sanford Stadum – on field and in stands. The dazzling single tapestry of team, band, and fans now known as Georgia Game Day was first stitched, and later embroidered, by Roger Dancz.

Redcoat style and support – the heartbeat the Bulldog Spirit.

Enjoy this video about the history, tradition, and game day experience of the University of Georgia Redcoat Band.