On the road again | SierraSun.com

On the road again

There are no groupies, no smoke machines and no pyrotechnics, but when the Truckee High band goes on tour in March, there might be a few weepy-eyed fans.

In a tradition that’s been going on for nearly a decade, 60-some Truckee High band students will hop on a bus and tour Bay Area schools, hospitals and retirement homes.

At the schools, the students put on a concert for children without music programs. At the retirement homes, they play tunes that often get residents out of their seats and dancing. At veterans hospitals, they play a song for each branch of the armed forces, and the vets get out of their wheelchairs to salute when their song is played.

Rarely, there is a dry eye in the room, said Marlys Zusy, publicity chair for the band.

“I think for a couple of [the students] band tour starts out as a couple of days off of school,” Zusy said. “It starts that way, but I don’t think it ends up like that.”

The four-day band tour has an aggressive schedule, with several concerts each day. The students don’t charge for the concerts, and everywhere they stay it’s free.

“Band tour is our version of community service hours,” said Colin Shane, a junior who plays saxophone. “We jam 60 kids in a school bus for four days and sleep in shrines, community centers and barracks.”

Despite the free accommodations, band tour is still a costly endeavor. It costs approximately $5,000 to pay for the bus and some of the meals. The students still pay for some of their food.

To raise money for the tour, the band students will hold their annual telethon on Saturday, Jan. 29, from 3 – 9 p.m., on Truckee Tahoe Community Television channel 6.

The telethon will feature live music performances by students, a slide show of last year’s band tour and a reality show on what it’s like to be in band.

Shane hopes the reality show will clear up some misconceptions about the type of person who’s in band.

“A lot of people think of band members as geeky,” he said. “[After watching the reality show], they’ll realize these kids aren’t just band geeks, they’re just average kids on the street who do more.”

Last year, the students made approximately $7,000 from the telethon. This year, they hope to beat that record, Shane said. Any money remaining after band tour will go toward music scholarships.

Truckee High band teacher Dave Green started the band tour about 10 years ago to expose Truckee High students to another side of U.S. culture ” like the people in veterans’ hospitals and seniors in nursing homes.

“I’m sure we’re one of the few high schools in the state that does this, but there are a few more as we spread the message of what we’re doing to other schools,” Green said. “[We] don’t just go to the competitions to win trophies. [We] go out and play to make people happy.”