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Posts tagged ‘marching southerners’

And the Beat Goes On…

It’s been four months since we said our goodbyes to London. Even as we cherish memories of that grand old town and the band experience of a lifetime, we receive reminders from time to time that perhaps London remembers us fondly, too.

JSU President Dr. Bill Meehan received this email last week and we are pleased to pass it along to all the Southerners, staff and fans. Thank you, Carolyn Minerich, for sharing it with us!

“Hello Bill,

We just returned from a week in London, England. I thought you’d like to know the Conceirge at the Hilton Park Lane noticed that we were from Jacksonville, Alabama. Immediately he remembered the band that led the London New Years Day Parade!

Also we hired a guide who was retired from the Army Band.  He did many, many Changing of the Guard Parades.  As soon as I said we were from Jacksonville, Alabama … he gave us the same response! “Your band was the first one in the New Year’s Parade”!

I thought you’d like to know JSU left a lasting impression in London.

Kindest regards,

Carolyn Minerich”

One More Chance to Watch the Parade

Hi, everyone!

Since returning from London, we’ve been really busy attending and teaching spring classes, planning spring concerts, recitals, and even looking ahead to next marching season’s show.  (Have you seen the promo to our 2012 show ‘I’ll Fly Away’? WOW! We can’t wait!)

In the midst of a very hectic spring semester, we still look back longingly to our time in London. We still have photos and stories to share here, so stay tuned for more great content.

In the meantime, we wanted to share with you that there is ONE MORE OPPORTUNITY to catch the webcast of the London New Year’s Day Parade on

The parade will air at 7 p.m. CST on Saturday, February 27. (Note that the schedule lists the date and time as 1 a.m. on February 28- This is local London time)

Watch the London New Year’s Day Parade

As always, we thank you for your amazing support of the Marching Southerners and Ballerinas!


The Parade

It’s hard to believe the London New Year’s Day Parade 2012 is now history!

We’ll have more to say tomorrow about our incredible parade experience but in the meantime we thought you’d enjoy some photos and a few links that we gathered from the web.

Don’t forget that you can watch the parade stream online at the following times in the U.S. on at 4 a.m. CST on January 2, at 4 a.m. and at 1 p.m. CST on January 3, and at 1:30 p.m. CST on Sunday, January 8 (Click on Showcase 2 for the final two transmissions)

As always, thank you for your support of the Marching Southerners!

The Warm-Up

And we’re off…

Our super talented and dedicated videographer, Logan Huggins

Parade Emcee Jonathan Whaley announces the Southerners.

Lined up and ready to go!

And we march off into London New Year’s Day Parade  history…

Because we were chosen to lead the parade, we received a lot of press attention. Here are some of the media outlets that gave us a mention (Hit the link for the related article):


The Daily Mail (You’ll need to scroll through this one)

Liverpool Daily Post (This article appeared in many newspapers)

Here are a few snippets that have been posted to YouTube. There’s more video to come, so stay tuned!

It wouldn’t be a Southerners performance without the crowd yelling “Blow, Southerners!”

We’re humbled by the comments on the following video. Wow!



The Concert in Trafalgar Square

What a difference a day makes!

Day two in London brought a more rested group of Southerners and an ample dose of that famous London rain and chill. Fortunately, before the rain set in, we had time to check out some local landmarks and forge ahead to the highlight of our day–  our concert in historic Trafalgar Square!

As our tour buses navigated the narrow streets, we thrilled to see real views like this one we’ve seen on so many postcards…

The Houses of Parliament and Big Ben

Even though the Queen was not home, we didn’t think she’d mind if we stopped for a few photo opportunities at Buckingham Palace.

One group of us cheesed it up for our amazing tour guide, Maitland…

while JSU’s own first couple, Dr. and Mrs. Meehan, reenacted Prince William and new bride Kate’s kiss so daughter Carol Grace could make a photo for the Meehan family album.

Dr. Meehan then took a moment for a photo with our amazing drum majors, Lauren and Daniel.

Then it was time to move on to the audience that awaited us at Trafalgar Square! In addition to the often photographed fountain and Nelson’s Column, Trafalgar Square now has a countdown clock to the 2012 London Olympics. Here we are, making our way past it to our performance area in front of the National Gallery.

And here are some of us in the pre-concert drizzle, waiting for our moment to make it a sunny day for the people of London who graciously invited us to join them for New Year’s…

We were greeted by some fantastic fans, including some we brought with us…

And some new ones we hadn’t yet met.

They filled the square, standing in the drizzle as they cheered on a band from a town they’d never heard of.

They represented many nations and spoke so many languages.

They could have gone anywhere else in this grand old tourism town, and yet they chose to stand in the mist and share with us the universal language of music.

It warmed our hearts!

Because they stayed with us, we brought our best to them.

Our best smiles…

Our highest kicks…

Our grandest gestures…

Our best spins…

And our sweetest notes.

We played some of our favorites, and we hope some of our favorites become theirs.

We played Salvation and  Southerners Special, Firebird and Fever.

They listened from behind us, on the steps of the National Gallery…

And in front of us…

And did we mention that it warmed our hearts?

When it was over, our new friends hung around for a bit and we had some more fun.

We saw a future Ballerina in the crowd…

Who watched the current Ballerinas grant media interviews…

And pose with some admirers…

All in the name of world peace.

And did we mention that this warmed our hearts?

We can’t wait to see what tomorrow holds as we end 2011 in London.

Happy New Year’s Eve from the Marching Southerners and the Ballerinas!

What a Day, Night, Whatever!

We made it! The Southerners have landed in London and this old town may never be the same!

We began arriving as early as 6 a.m. on Thursday, Dec. 29. As of this writing at 6 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 30, the last three students were trickling in.

The first day was a whirlwind, but our Southerners are a determined and tireless bunch. This was evident to everyone in the Hilton London Metropole last night as, after probably no more than eight hours sleep in 24 hours for the whole group, our Southerners still managed to stage a rehearsal in the hotel that had people on every level of the hotel looking into the open lobby stairwell, wondering where that amazing rendition of Stars Fell on Alabama was coming from!

Excuse the quality of this video. It was very late and this blogger was very sleepy, but here’s an example:

And here are some other highlights of the journey thus far:

A friendly face met us at the airport. Meet James, our guide. He and Emma, our other guide for our trip, have been fantastic!

And here’s our hotel, the Hilton London Metropole. Very swank and in a great location, with close access to the ‘tube.’ (That’s what they call the subway here). Upon arrival we learned that our rooms were not yet ready.

So… we did what any good tourists would do. We dropped our bags and went sightseeing.

One of the first sights we saw in the tube was a sign for the parade!

After consulting a map…

We hit a few of the highlights…

Finally, it was time to check in!

After a quick orientation and a great meal

We got busy with our first London rehearsal

It was a full day, or two, that left us feeling a bit like this

but there’s no rest for a Southerner!

Next up: Our first day of sightseeing and our concert in Trafalgar Square.

Stay tuned!

How to Support the Southerners

The Southerners perform for a very enthusiastic home crowd at JSU Stadium.

The Southerners have conducted all types of fundraisers for the London trip, from holding flea markets to selling tickets to a dinner event that was graciously sponsored by a local restaurant, Classic on Noble.

Individual donations are also greatly appreciated and may be sent to:

JSU Foundation / Marching Southerners
700 Pelham Road North
Jacksonville, AL 36265

Please put “Southerners London” in the memo line on your check.

Also, contributions may be made with a major credit card online at

Thank you for your support!

The Gig of a Lifetime

The Jacksonville State University Southerners learned in Summer 2010 that the band had been selected to perform in the London New Year’s Day Parade 2012. On September 23, 2010, a representative of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II visited JSU  to hand deliver the invitation, with a twist… the Southerners would lead the parade!

Although an invitation from Her Majesty is considered a great honor in itself, the 2012 parade is even more significant because it is the first official event for both Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee and the London 2012 Olympics.

Herald Trumpets

Herald Trumpets welcomed the London delegation to Jacksonville State University on September 23, 2010.

The Honourable Roger Bramble, Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Greater London, accompanied by Mr. Robert Bone, executive director and founder of London’s New Year’s Day Parade, along with Mrs. Geraldine Bone, delivered the invitation. The entourage toured campus, met city and area leaders and students, and heard a short performance from the Southerners before extending the official invitation.

To be considered for the invitation, a music program must be nominated to the Selection Committee by a previous participant or a regional director of music. A group cannot apply and no audition tapes are submitted. Dr. Paula Crider, Dr. Tom Duffy, Dr. Tom Fraschillo, Gary Locke and Tim Lautzenheiser, all of whom are well-known in the national and international marching band communities, recommended the Southerners.

The Invitation

Lord Lieutenant Roger Bramble, left, presents to JSU President Dr. William Meehan the invitation for the Southerners to lead the 2012 London New Year's Day Parade.

The Invitation

In recognition of an unparalleled reputation for outstanding performance abilities; the Patrons and the Organizing Committee of the New Year’s Day Parade and Festival – London, in association with Youth Music of the World, the Lord Lieutenancy of Greater London, The City of Westminster, and the London Mayors’ Association, take great pleasure in extending an invitation to the

Jacksonville State University Marching Southerners
Alabama, USA

to participate in The 26th annual New Year’s Day Parade and Festival, to be held in 
London, England between December 27, 2011 and January 4, 2012.

Roger Bramble
The Lord Lieutenancy of Greater London
High Sherriff of Greater London 1999-2000
Lord Mayor of The City of Westminster 1985-86
Patron and Founder of The London Parade Festival

Of the honor, Bodiford said: “I am so proud of our students. They amaze me each day. They work so hard, in the heat on that hot parking lot, and keep a fantastic attitude. I feel so fortunate to be associated with the Marching Southerners. This honor definitely proves that hard work, a great attitude and discipline pay off!”After the invitation was issued, the real work of getting the band to London began. It will cost just shy of $3,000 per member to get the group of students and staff to London and back, so the Southerners have been raising funds ever since.

For more information on the Southerners from Jacksonville State University, please visit

London Calling

It won’t be long now!

Less than three weeks from today we’ll hop a plane… several, actually… and head east.

It’s strange to be so focused on something other than Christmas at this time of year, but we can’t help but let Baby New Year ride shotgun and relegate Santa to the backseat this year as we plan for the road trip of a lifetime! The band has worked very hard so we can represent the University, Alabama and the U.S. well as we lead the parade. We hope we’ll make you proud!

Throughout this amazing journey we’ll be in touch here on the blog. We hope you’ll follow along as we answer London’s call!

London Calling- CC Image Courtesy of canonsnapper on Flickr


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