Celebration of Pep Band

Drew Baumgartner

Any students expecting the familiar ambiance of the coffeehouse Monday were a bit surprised to find kazoos, classic rock covers, and a lot of energy.
Weather forced the LU Pep Band’s fight song competition indoors and onto the small stage in the union basement. The relaxed setting and stamp-sized confines couldn’t contain the band’s excitement, however, and they delivered a rousing performance.
Mixed in with the band’s standard repertoire were two original pieces, submitted by Lawrence students as part of the fight song competition. The winner, by volume of applause, was Erik Anderson’s “Viking Polka,” which he described as “pretty much your basic school fight song with a little Wisconsin twist,” noting a similarity with the state song.
“I just sat down in a practice room one day and tried to come up with a cheesy melody,” said the freshman music major.
The competition was conceived by pep band founder Rob Strelow, who felt that Lawrence needed a rousing fight song. “We found a choral piece that was written in the ’40s,” Strelow explained, “but that wasn’t really going to work for us.”
Posters went up winter term challenging students to compose a fight song. Contestants were given until the end of spring break, and asked to arrange their fight song for the instrumentation of the band.
The band received two entries: Anderson’s “Viking Polka,” and “Go Lawrence Go,” by Jacqui Beduhn. The latter is a new setting of the words of Lawrence’s original fight song by the same name, written in 1940.
The highlight of both pieces may have been the improvised kazoo interlude, which, by popular demand, is now an official part of Lawrence’s fight song. “I did not expect that,” noted kazooist Hannah Jastram.
The competition was part of pep band week – the band’s campaign to keep active during spring term. “There isn’t a lot of call for pep band in spring sports,” Strelow remarked. “We thought it would be fun to see what it’s like to be the main event.”
Students are invited and encouraged to attend the pep band’s rock concert Friday at 8:30 p.m. in Riverview Lounge. “People should come ready to dance,” said Strelow. “We’re not a sit-down show.