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Photo courtesy of Michael Wooten

Nothing ‘Cliche’ about marching to a new beat

Snares are sizzling, bass drums are rumbling and marimba keys are skipping because the Bulldog Marching Band has taken the floor with its new indoor winter percussion team, Red Wave Indoor.

Its 2017 show is titled “Cliche.” The concept is designed to take the audience into the mind of a music composer to witness musical ideas coming together to create a performable show.

“Basically, every little gimmick or thing that you might see in a winter percussion show, they do it,” said Michael Wootten, digital media coordinator for the marching band. “Things that musically and visually seem to happen in every percussion show are multiplied by 10 in this. It’s to be gimmicky and funny. It’s the ultimate meta show for winter percussion.”

Midway through his second year as the percussion director, Joseph Avery visualized a winter percussion group in Fresno that would succeed, said Wootten. Avery’s tenacity and the drive from marching band director Steven McKeithen is what put Red Wave Indoor in motion.

“So far, the season has been really good. I think the group has definitely grown a lot already from the beginning as well as exceeded its expectations since this is the first year with the group,” said Wootten.

Much like the marching band, Red Wave Indoor is offered as a class through Fresno State. But the team is not limited to Fresno State students. Students from Fresno City College and other campuses are welcome to join.

Ivan Porras, a music major at Fresno City and the current drum set player for Red Wave Indoor, was exposed to the Bulldog Marching Band four years ago after moving to California, and he received the Outstanding Percussionist award for the 2016 season.

“[Winter percussion] is not like the movie ‘Drumline,’” Porras said. “[Expressing these emotions] can be through vigorous or soft playing. It’s also very physical. Marching at fast tempos, adding body movement, [thinking] about the approach you need to have in a certain section.”

Above all, communication throughout the ensemble is key for Porras.

“For me, it’s been nothing but exciting,” Porras said. “Every day I get better I get closer to my friends. [Performing] takes a lot of hard work, dedication and personal competence to achieve a common goal, and the best part is that you’re doing it all with your friends.”

Red Wave Indoor began its first season as a group in January. With 34 members, it is classified as an Independent Open Class group. “Independent” differentiates collegiate teams from high school teams, whereas “open” categorizes the team based on size and experience.

Currently the team has few competitors in its class and must gauge its performance by judges’ comments.

During the course of its season, Red Wave Indoor will participate in three circuits: San Joaquin Valley Color Guard and Percussion Review, Winter Guard International: Fresno Regional and South Valley Winter Arts Association.

Red Wave Indoor will compete against NorCal Indoor out of Sacramento this weekend on March 4 at Clovis North Educational Center.