Caleb Weiss, a DeKalb High School senior, said he isn’t nervous about playing the saxophone before a crowd of 73,000 people.
“I’ve performed concertos by myself before. I’ve been doing that in front of a couple hundred people,” Weiss said. “It doesn’t scare me to be out there with a couple hundred people I’ve played with.”
Weiss will be one of the Marching Barbs playing at the Allstate Sugar Bowl on Jan. 2 in New Orleans.
“This is definitely the biggest thing we’ve ever done,” DeKalb band director Steve Lundin said of the Sugar Bowl, which is played at the 73,000-plus seat Superdome.
Meanwhile, the Sandwich High School band and choir will be making their third appearance at the Heritage Music Festival in Washington, D.C., a four-day music festival scheduled for the weekend before the presidential inauguration in 2013.
Sandwich Band Director Justin Heinekamp said playing in Washington is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the band members.
“I think it’s amazing the kids will be able to experience something like that,” Heinekamp said of the opportunity to see a president being sworn-in in-person.
Neither trip will be cheap. Lundin said the total cost for the DeKalb band’s trip will be $86,000, or about $800 for each of the 118 students that are in the band. Heinekamp said Sandwich students will be paying about $650 each to go to Washington, D.C.
Each band has organized different fundraisers to offset the costs. Outside of these efforts, both music departments are accepting community donations.
The Marching Barbs are selling $10 tickets to “The Cajun Kick-Off” – a night of music, Cajun food, raffles and an auction – they are hosting from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday at the high school, 501 W. Dresser Road.
Lundin said they already have sold more than 100 tickets, but he is not expecting the event will cover all the expenses.
“Unless something magical happens, we’re not raising all $86,000,” Lundin said, adding that he would be happy if they can raise 25 to 50 percent of the trip’s total costs.
On Nov. 15, Fay’s Pork Chop Bar-B-Que will set up a barbeque drive-thru from 4:30 to 7 p.m. at Sandwich High School that the music students will help run. Heinekamp said students are selling pre-order tickets now, but tickets will be sold at the event.
The department is also hosting a silent auction Nov. 16. Yvonne Roller, the fundraising chairwoman for the Sandwich Schools Music Association, said she is still looking for items to offer in the silent auction. Heinekamp said a time still has to be worked out for it.
Heinekamp said the students recently performed at “Terror in the Timber,” a haunted trail held in the Saunnak Forest Preserve, to raise money for the trip.
Kristin Millard, a junior at Sandwich who is the band’s principal clarinet player, said she hopes to lower the cost of her trip to $400 or $500. She said individual band members have been selling chocolate from catalogs, with a percentage of the profits going toward lowering the cost of the trip.
Millard said she plans to go to Washington regardless of how much she raises, but that’s not the case for all of her bandmates.
“I would be able to go, but some kids have to raise all the money themselves for the trip,” Millard said. “The fund-raising is a pretty big deal.”
Kodi Underwood, a DeKalb senior flutist, agreed that fund-raising is crucial, especially for families with more than one child in the band.
“Any donations would be helpful to some of the families who have multiple students who have to really work hard to get the chance to go,” Underwood said.
The Marching Barbs will be playing with other bands on the field of the Superdome at the same time. For their performance, they are learning how to play “Born to Be Wild” by Steppenwolf, “I Don’t Care” by Fall Out Boy, and “I Don’t Wanna Stop” by Ozzy Osbourne. Lundin said the music at the Sugar Bowl had to have mass appeal.
Heinekamp said the Sandwich band and choir will have 15 minutes to play at the festival. He does not know which pieces they are doing yet, but said they will be probably be Americana selections.
Students in the respective bands said they were excited to perform. Weiss said he hopes the experience inspires some of the younger students.
“I hope it makes an impact on the other members of my section who are beginning their high school careers and inspire them to keep with it,” Weiss said, who is a section leader in the band. “My section leader inspired me as a freshman, and I hope this does the same for them.”