Band Headed to Memphis for Spring Break Trip


Nick Bumgardner, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

It’s spring break, and the Notre Dame band will embark on a 12-hour bus ride with one destination in mind–Memphis, Tennessee.

As part of a seventeen-year tradition, the band will make their biennial program-wide trip to one of America’s great music cities.

This year, that city is Memphis.

“Memphis is a great music city…The purposes of the trip are several.  Some of it is to go to perform, but a lot of it, too, is to experience the culture of that city.  Memphis, historically, has been one of the centers of roots blues music in this country, with studios like Stacks Records and Sun Studio.  There are a lot of Seminole recordings in r & b, blues, and rock n’ roll that were recorded in Memphis, and Beale Street is sort of a ‘hotbed’ of music, in particular in the mid twentieth century,” said Mr. Steve Johnson, band director.

“Recording artists would specifically–and they still do, actually–go to Memphis or Nashville to do recordings because the musicians there have a different sound.  Recording now is different than it was then…but it still is a rich musical tradition,” he continued.

As part of the five-day trip, students will visit the National Civil Rights Museum, ‘Graceland,’ the Memphis Zoo, Sun Studio, the famous Beale Street, the Rock and Soul Museum, the Peabody Hotel and much much more.  

In addition to the general tourism, faith and service components have been included in the trip, with students attending Sunday mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and helping students at Cummings Elementary School in the heart of Memphis.

Everyone involved is looking forward to having a great time connecting with new and existing friends while in the “home of the blues.”

“I think there are a lot of things that I’m looking forward to.  Strangely enough, one of the things I’m most looking forward to is the zoo because I’ve heard it’s really great, like one of the top zoos in the country.  I would say the thing that I’m looking forward to the most, though, if I were to be perfectly honest, is the opportunity to see our students–the band students–interacting outside of a classroom situation,” said Johnson.  

“That’s the thing that I remember the most from New Orleans.  You know, we keep ourselves very busy, kind of going from event to event…we’re always sort of doing something…but, it’s a very different type of interaction when students get to hang out…Those informal interactions, on the bus, at the zoo, or on the way to some place, or even at dinner, are a really nice opportunity to hang out with people and be around other students that you might otherwise not see and forge new friendships or strengthen existing ones,” he continued.

With the trip on everyone’s minds, some have already started asking about the next trip–“What about 2022?”–and Johnson has been careful to keep plans under wraps.

“I haven’t decided yet for sure whether we’re going to [New Orleans in 2022] or whether we’re going to find another destination or series of destinations.”

One thing is for certain, however–the trip won’t disappoint.