Just when Racer Band couldn’t get any better, Director John Fannin has something else up his sleeve.
After having the highest recorded membership last year at 300 members, most of them being upper classmen, the Racer Band wowed crowds with its musical abilities. Although this year’s group is smaller with 269 members, Fannin’s enthusiasm is high for the upcoming season.
“It’s been great so far,” Fannin said. “We’re young and very, very talented. It’s a very smart group.”
Fannin and the group must be doing something right. This year, Racer Band has managed to retain 70 percent of last year’s members. The band has one of the highest retention rates across the country, Fannin said.
This year, Fannin strategically picked arrangements of songs that appeal to audiences of all ages. The first halftime show for Racer Band, which is at the Sept. 9 home football game, will feature songs from the ‘70s.
“It’s really fierce and there are really cool sound effects,” Fannin said. “You haven’t heard some of the sounds that are going to come off of Racer Band this year, so it’s really exciting.”
During the second halftime show this year, which happens to be family weekend, the crowd will see a rock-pop show. They will combine songs from groups like ACDC with some more contemporary pop groups like Imagine Dragons and Fun.
Fannin said he is currently waiting on the copyright to Macklemore’s “Can’t Hold Us” so that it can be added to the show as well.
One of the many reasons that Racer Band has such a strong impact on Murray State’s campus is the leadership behind it. Not only is Fannin a huge component of that leadership, but several students are as well.
“We have a great leadership team this year,” Fannin said. “It always tickles me that they are so concerned about all the details of how we run things. It blows me away how great they are. Everyone is really proud to be a part of this organization.”
Former Racer Band bass guitarist and this year’s sound technician, senior Tyler Burch said his favorite part about Racer Band is the community it builds.
“From the minute I step on campus for band camp to the last note of the season, I’m surrounded by some of my closest friends,” Burch said.
Burch also said all the time he has spent with Racer Band during practices and performances has taught him a few things.
“I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned is how to work with a group to accomplish something great,” Burch said. “Last year we had a very intense practice schedule due to our performance in Indianapolis at the Bands of America Grand Nationals.”
He said they all worked extremely hard to pull together an amazing performance.
“After performing in front of a crowd of nearly 10,000, I can say that the work was worth it,” he said.
Aside from working hard for its own performances, Fannin and the band diligently put together an event called Festival of Champions, where 24 different high school bands compete for the title of top band.
“It’s the highlight of our season every year,” Fannin said.
Racer Band is also going to a high school festival in St. Louis on Sept. 21 at the St. Charles West High School band competition. Fannin said the competition is one of their biggest recruiting areas.
Fannin’s tactics make him an inspiration to Racer Band. He even had his own “Take Your Place in the Murray State Racer Band Tradition” motto before the University came out with “Take Your Place in the Murray State Tradition” as this year’s tagline.
“Mr. Fannin is a fantastic instructor,” Burch said. “I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that at all points during the season he is working as hard, if not harder, than any of his students to create a great end product. Seeing him exemplify the same work ethic that he asks of us is very inspirational and admirable.”
Overall, Fannin said he is pleased and excited to start the new Racer Band season.
Said Fannin: “I think you’re in for a real treat.”
Story by Taylor Crum, Assistant Sports Editor