Photo Album - Page 22

Photos by Fred Cerwick, 1972

The ISU Student Brass Quintet is shown rehearsing in the back of the bandroom.  This group began when several musicians took outdated red marching band uniforms (stored in the back room of Exhibit Hall) and their instruments to make a statement by practicing at Beardshear Hall.

They were concerned that although the university had at last offered a music degree, the equipment and facilities were sorely underfunded and inadequate.  That spur-of-the-moment demonstration evolved into an ensemble which regularly rehearsed and performed together for several years.  The group, sometimes known as the Redcoats, performed outdoor central campus recitals, but were probably best known for their winter performances at the ISU Christmas tree lighting ceremony and for their impromptu serenades of each floor of ISU dorms.  Their winter uniform included black boots, white pants, the old red marching band jackets, and tall sheepskin Swiss Army hats.  After cold nights of caroling, the group would visit the South Duff Avenue Mr. Donut shop where the rumor persisited that the five musicians could eat 7 dozen donuts.  Read more about the Redcoats on this page below.

View the red uniform jackets that prompted this quintent to be known as the Redcoats.

Dennis McGinn and Jim Buckner - ISU Student Brass Quintet

The Redcoats met in the early morning to jog on the overhead track at State Gymnasium before showering and heading to the hub to collect a twinkie and Iowa State Daily.  Following a quick breakfast together at the bandroom, there would be time to rehearse some quintet literature before heading to the 8 AM class (usually music theory).

Occasionally, one could look down to the gym floor and see students practicing the art of fencing.


One of the favored activities of the informal, but slightly dignified, ISU Redcoats was the winter-time serenade of some ISU dorms before the Christmas break.  There were several new huge "Towers" dorms on campus in the late 1960s, so a number of occasions of Christmas Caroling were enjoyed.   Neither playing for the boys' dorms or serenading the girls' dorms was without occasional difficulties.  Because a number of awkward moments were experienced at the Boys' Tower Dorms were experienced, most Christmas Caroling was eventually done in Maple, Willow, and Larch.

Once when playing outside the Boy's Tower Dorms (South of campus), some male students (who evidently were not enjoying the fine music) threw bottles out their windows, crashing close to the Redcoats.  Also, there was the time a University lad passed by the guys while they were playing some outdoor Christmas Carols, and grabbed the sheepskin Swiss Army Hat worn by one of the players.  It turned out to be rather fruitless to chase him (the crook) by running while carrying a trombone, French horn, trumpet, or tuba.   Since the hat was never recovered, the common wisdom proclaimed, "That's it for the boys' dorms!"  The Redcoats' "official uniform" stayed the same, even though one performer was now without his hat.

It was much more fun (and exciting) to perform inside the girls' dorms.  And since dormitories were not "co-ed" in the 1960s, arrangements had to be arranged (in advance) with a female music student who lived in one of the girls' Towers.

"We'll probably want "in" at about 8PM.  Watch for us at the back door."  This was because the girls' dorms were locked up after a certain hour.

At the prescribed time, the helpful female student would often see the Redcoats standing outside, waiting to enter.  She would lead the guys (carrying their instruments) down the hallway from the back door (seldom-used) towards the larger carpeted space in front of the main elevator doors. She would always (following the prescribed rules) shout, "Man on the floor!   Man on the floor!" to warn the ladies that guys were in their domain.  And since the first floor had the lunch room, kitchen, administrative office, etc. (but not many dorm rooms), the elevator was taken to the second floor, where the Redcoats would sit on the floor to play the Christmas Carols in front of the elevator doors.  The girls in nearly all the second floor dorm rooms would leave their rooms and join the musicians on the carpet immediately in front of the performers.   They would often sing the Christmas Carols as they were played.  After ten or fifteen minutes of the standard, well-known Christmas Carols, the guys would wave goodbye while the girls would applaud, and back into the open elevator doors in order to go up one floor and play there.   Playing on one floor after another helped the guys to catch on to the idea of performing from inside the elevator while seated on the elevator floor.  One performer on each side of the elevator would need to extend one leg out of the elevator (all while playing) to insure the elevator doors would not close during the brief performance.  After waving goodbye to the students on that floor, the two legs were withdrawn and the doors would quickly close.  After going up, another floor could be approached.

More than one evening was abbreviated by the loud statement of a girl running down the hallway towards the elevator.  "Guess what!  The Campus Cops just came into our parking lot!   I think they know you're here!"  This unwelcome notice meant the guys would quickly go down several floors.  Down to the third floor, they would exit the elevator and retreat towards the back of the dorm to reach the seldom-used stairway.  After hurrying (with their music and horns) down the last two flights of stairs and exiting from the dorm's back door, the Redcoats would retreat to their autos and quickly travel to another dorm for girls.

Sometimes, several dorms would be attempted before the guys "called it quits".   These evenings seemed to be enjoyed both by the performing guys and the serenaded girls.


Perhaps nobody will notice the band guys borrowing dorm food if they wear their MARCHIN' DADDIES shirts.
Go Cyclones!

next page

back to photo album index