Brothers Levi and Luke Gudwer of Lacombe recently had the opportunity to perform with the Calgary Stampede Showband at the Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena, California.
The parade, which is one of the largest marching band parades in the world, was broadcast in 127 counties and seen by 47 million people in the United States and 28 million people internationally.
Levi — who plays the trumpet, is 20-years-old and is attending SAIT for Electrical Engineering. He said the experience was amazing.
“The first part of the parade had cameras set up from all over the world,” he said. “Comparing it to parades we do here — like the Calgary Stampede Parade — there is nothing like it. There were stacks upon stacks of people and people were staying up the night before. We drove by the night before and people were sleeping there to get good spots.”
His brother Luke — who plays the bass drum, is 18-years-old and is currently attending Lacombe Composite High School. He said seeing the love for music was amazing.
“It has been pretty amazing. It has been one of the highlights of my whole life. It created a passion for me and has given me amazing memories I will never forget,” he said
Both Levi and Luke credit the opportunity to perform with the Calgary Stampede Showband to their six years spent with the Red Deer Royals.
“The Royals was definitely the gateway for me,” Levi said. “I was with the Royals and that leads you into Stampede because we are in all the same competitions. You see the Showband and think, ‘I would love to do that someday’.”
Luke added the Royals were his only way to learn music and he is looking forward to a career in music where he can pass on what he has learned.
“I took lessons for about a year before I started with the Royals,” he said. “We had a cousin who was in the band and he got us into it. It eventually became my hobby and favourite thing to do.”
Being able to immerse themselves in the wild marching band culture of the U.S. was a treat for the Gudwers.
“Marching band culture is pretty strong — especially here in Alberta, but it is nothing like the States,” Levi said.
“Every high school has a marching band and a lot of people are into it. Everyone knows about it and everyone loves it.”
Luke added, “It is super cool down there. I wish we had that relationship up here in Canada between sports and marching bands. They fit with each other really well.”
Interacting with other bands was also a highlight of the Rose Bowl experience for the brothers.
“Immediately after the parade, a lot of the bands were heading the same way for the lunch after that was provided,” Levi said. “We were all in the same line and instantly we all had something to bond over. We started trading pins and were talking to each other about our bands.
“With the show band, we have cowboy boots so everyone was asking us to show our boots or tip our hats.”
The Showband has an age-out of 21 years, meaning that Levi will soon be leaving the band after this season. He said this will be his final year in band, but he has no regrets.
“The Show Band was my endgame,” he said. “It was my dream since I got into the Showband and this is potentially my last year with the band because you only go to a certain age.
“I am really excited about this year because the world championships are coming to Calgary. We are looking to win it again for the sixth time.”
He added the experience at the Rose Bowl was amazing.
“It went by too quick. The Rose Bowl is something you hear about but think you will never do. The Show Band suddenly gets invited and you are there.”
In the Rose Bowl football game, the Ohio State Buckeyes went on to defeat the Washington Huskies 28-23.