My first indication that my high school marching band experience wasn’t entirely typical was the confused reaction I got at NYU whenever I brought up color guard. With many two-a-day rehearsals and, yes, a week-long band camp, I was a proud member of a group of dancers that spin flags, "rifles," and "sabers," often with the marching band in statewide competitions.
I was excited and surprised when I got a galley of Kristen Laine’s American Band, which is positively reviewed this week in Xpress Reviews. The promo copy refers to "a great, untold American story with a unique view into red-state America" and "a snapshot of life, in all its triumph, disappointment, and drama, in a heartland community." And, lo and behold, the book is about the Concord Marching Minutemen, one of my high school band’s biggest marching rivals in Indiana. (They’ll be marching in this year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.) Although I knew them years ago for antics with clown wigs and tie-dyed T-shirts on the dirt racing track that staged the annual State Fair Marching Band Competition—while I suffered on August afternoons in a full marching uniform and hat or a velour bodysuit and caked makeup—they’re a good band, and I’m eager to read Laine’s interpretation of a beloved hobby I never knew as a strange, small-town passion.