It was around 8:45 in the morning in the middle of July, when I noticed in my band email that someone had filled out our contact us form. The title of the email was “Preseason Home Games”. I’m a HUUGE sports fan, so I was definitely interested to see who was reaching out to us. It turned out to be from one of the Entertainment Coordinators at the Oakland Raiders. Yeah, that’s right. An NFL team.
My heart started racing as I wondered whether this would be our opportunity to play at a sporting event. I immediately dialed the phone number on my phone and was successful in getting the Entertainment Coordinator to pick up. She was impressed that we were calling her within minutes of her submitting her information.
In short, the team was looking for a band to perform the team song “Autumn Wind” during their home football games. After every time the team scored, the band would play a portion of Autumn Wind to all of the Raider fans in the Oakland Coliseum. I told her that that was definitely something we could do and that we would happily submit a recording of our band playing Autumn Wind.
The only catch, the Entertainment Coordinator told me, was that they didn’t access to the sheet music of the song. So we were going to have to arrange it to sound as close to the original as possible. Not a big deal for us, except that the song has a ton of string instruments in it and we’re a brass band!
We quickly arranged Autumn Wind for a 7-piece brass band and submitted our recording. After a few days we were told that we were definitely on the right track and they requested that we make a few small changes to our arrangement.
After 1 more submission, we invited the Entertainment Coordinator and her boss to see us perform the song at Lennon Rehearsal Studios. The crew at Lennon Studios, knowing that we had a lot on the line for this “private audition” was super nice to us and gave us the biggest room they had.
And thank goodness they did, because after our “private audition” we were told that we would be doing our final audition in Oakland Coliseum during their first pre-game of the year. We were so excited!
For the next couple of weeks, the band rehearsed Autumn Wind extensively, so that we’d be as prepared as we could be for our final audition. When we arrived at the stadium, it was about 3.5 hours before game time. We were greeted by another member of the Entertainment team and escorted through security and up to the Club Level, where we were to perform.
We had a killer view of the field and could see players stretching and warming up. We were told that the people evaluating us were stationed all over the stadium because they wanted to hear what it would sound like as a fan. So we got set up quickly and waiting for the cue.
And then we blasted Autumn Wind throughout the entire Oakland Coliseum. It was a thrilling 2 minutes and I thought we sounded great. Apparently everyone that was watching us thought so too but the real evaluators, who were all over the stadium, communicated to our point person to perform it again. So we did. Another thrilling 2 minutes. Another solid job.
If you haven’t performed at a big stadium before, it’s actually really hard. Not only are there tens of thousands of people there, but the acoustics usually aren’t that great. The sound bounces all over the stadium, and it is really hard as a musician to focus on what you’re playing when you’re hearing an echo at the same time.
Fortunately, because our sound was so powerful and strong, the echo, while noticeable, was manageable for everyone to still play a polished version of the tune. Once we finished our second rendition of Autumn Wind, we were told that we could pack up and stay in our area to watch the preseason game against the Los Angeles Rams.
Not only were we going to get to perform, but we were also going to be featured on the big screen, while we performed.
That game was a blast.
The team ended up scoring SEVEN TIMES to beat the Jets 45-20. Scoring seven times meant playing Autumn Wind seven times. So we belted out Autumn Wind to the over 60,000 fans after each touchdown and field goal that Sunday afternoon. Here’s a clip of us performing after one of the field goals.
After the game we were invited to be in-game entertainment for the next 3 home games.
During the second home game of the season, against the Baltimore Ravens, the team allowed us to perform Autumn wind in Raiderville, the official Raiders Tailgate Party. This was a lot of fun because we were able to interact with fans in the parking lot before the game. Raiders fans throw some of the best tailgate parties that I’ve ever seen. The number of smokers and grills that were out in the parking lot was something to witness. And to perform for everyone pre-game was really fun. Because it got everyone’s energy up for the actual game.
Even though we’ll always remember the first three home games, the last home game that we performed at was our favorite, because it was televised primetime on Monday Night Football against the Kansas City Chiefs. Not only did we get to perform Autumn Wind during MNF, but we also got to meet Bruce Maxwell, Catcher for the Oakland Athletics. He was hanging out in our area during the national anthem (yes he kneeled).
We also spent some time with the halftime performer, Casey Cooper, the creator of the popular YouTube drumming channel COOP3RDRUMM3R.
Everyone in the band had a blast and the Oakland Raiders staff couldn’t have been nicer. We are so appreciative of the Raiders entertainment team for having us and we hope we get to do it again soon.
Our experience has definitely motivated us to find gigs with other professional sports teams or play at other sporting events. So, if you work for a professional sports team and are looking for some live entertainment, please contact us!