As you know from this, I was in Regina, Saskatchewan last week and weekend for the Grey Cup, the championship game of CFL (Canadian Football League). I play trumpet in the Roughrider Pep Band and was there in that capacity. Here are some thoughts:
- I absolutely love playing in the Roughrider Pep Band. They have some excellent musicians, undying energy, and they just love to have fun.
- This was my fourth consecutive Grey Cup. The Pep Band's role at Grey Cup is absolutely crazy: we get up every morning at or before 5am and play at schools, parties, offices, and on tv. We do this starting on Thursday and continue through Saturday. It's tiring (hell, exhausting), it's painful (my lips were bruised and calloused by the end of the week), it's grueling (I had to take a nap or two between gigs), and I love it all. In all four years, we must have played 70-80 gigs each year. We just throw ourselves into it and play a LOT. This link might show us on Canada AM (but I'm not sure it will work).
- I will never, ever attend another Grey Cup game that is held in a cold outdoor venue. It was horrible trying to walk two blocks from one gig to another when the temperature was -27C with a windchill of -36C, but that was nothing compared to sitting in the stands for 3 hours during a football game, even though the temperature during the game was only -5C or so. I was chilled to the bone, but couldn't leave because it looked as if the Roughriders would win (which they did, 45-23).
- The sea of green in the stadium was impressive with all the fans wearing green. But I've seen that before at other games, so it didn't impress me all that much. And I think I was personally at least as excited when the London Tigers won their league championship over 20 years ago as I was on Sunday when the Roughriders won the Grey Cup.
- Nevertheless, it felt special when Taj Smith (wide receiver for the Roughriders) came up and joined the band at the end of the game. He has always been a strong supporter of the pepband.
- Over the past four years that I have been playing with the pep band whenever possible, I have acquired an appreciation for the CFL. I used to prefer the NFL hands down. Now I'm not so sure.
- It was great for the Roughriders that they won the Grey Cup at home this year, but to be honest, playing in the pep band at Grey Cup is more fun when the game is not in Regina. I realize that saying this may seem like sacrilege to many fans in Regina, but this year the band members were less-connected because every evening everyone went home instead of back to the hotel or out to some karaoke bar.
- Scotch is a marvelous salve for sore, bruised, swollen lips.