The scene: It was 1993, I was a senior in high school and I was on a band trip to Los Angeles that I didn't really want to go on because we were going with the choir and I hated the choir. The choir had loads and loads of rules. Ridiculous rules. Like seating charts on the bus. I was an officer in the band (because I was awesome!) so I had to attend all of these meetings with the choir director and the choir officers that took place on Saturday mornings. I hated those meetings. When we went on jazz band trips we just practiced our music and told everyone when to meet the bus and our teacher told us we would get left behind if we didn't show up on time. And we believed his threats. The choir people planned ridiculous details like bus seating charts (boys on one side and girls on the other!) and scheduled our every waking hour on the trip. In the past, the jazz band always went to a jazz festival in Greeley, Colorado and the only thing to do there was to go to clinics with legendary jazz musicians, listen to performances and make nuisances of ourselves at the motel. Oh, and discover karaoke at a local bar. It was awesome. Not sure why that bar let a bunch of underage kids wander in off the street but I am glad they did because we had some a lot of fun karaoking when we weren't running around the motel with squirt guns, putting shaving cream and toothpaste on people sleeping and taking photos of people in the shower (okay, that was just one guy getting back at another guy for the shaving cream thing and I never saw the photos). We stayed at a nicer hotel in L.A. but girls and boys weren't allowed to stay on the same floor and chaperones were forced to wander the floors to make sure we didn't sneak out (some of us still did) and we had some ridiculous curfew. In Greeley there wasn't a curfew and we never really saw our chaperones.
And while I'm talking about that particular high school trip I would like to share one little anecdote before we get to the embarrassing part. The majority of my high school consisted of Mormon kids and the choir often performed at church-related functions. I found it weird. And when I was in a planning meeting and the choir director put church on the schedule, I balked. And I was the only one! For whatever reason I was the only band representative at these meetings and the choir kids all thought I was horribly rebellious for not wanting to go to church while on a high school trip. I argued that a large portion of the kids in band were not Mormon. The choir director's response? We can provide a bus to take them to their church. I then argued separation of church and state. I was upset. I did not want to get forced into going to church in some strange city when my family didn't even do that when we were on vacation. We also didn't have any beach time on the itinerary. After quite a bit of arguing, I managed to get buses to go to the beach as an alternative to going to church. I was not able to work out any alternative though for the band when the choir performed at a fireside Sunday night. So we went straight from the beach, covered in salt and sand to a church where I sulked outside fuming over how wrong it was that I was being forced to go to church on a school trip.
None of that is really the point. The main point is that I didn't really want to go to California, I didn't want to go to Disneyland, I didn't want to travel with all the choir kids and their rules. I wanted the unruly ways of Greeley to form the memories for my senior year band trip. But I didn't get my way and the one time the jazz band was allowed to break away from everyone else was to go to the Tonight Show. Which was also sort of a disappointment. When we started planning Johnny Carson was still hosting and the whole reason we were going was to see The Tonight Show band. But by April Jay Leno had taken over so no more big band. After seeing the likes of Dave Brubeck, J. J. Johnson, Diane Johnson, Louie Belson and Paquito D'Rivera perform in the past, just listening to other high schools perform wasn't as appealing. Even if we did get to go to Disneyland. Luckily, Jay Leno had Branford Marsalis leading his band so we were still able to justify our break with the choir.
Since I was in charge of assigning seats for the buses, I made sure my bus only had people I liked and I definitely did not enforce that whole boys on one side girls on another thing. Especially since band had more boys than girls anyway. We drove all night from Salt Lake to Los Angeles and I'm pretty sure we played Hearts the bulk of the drive. We went straight to Disneyland upon arrival and ran around getting soaked on a few rides before we left early to make our way to Burbank for the Tonight Show taping. I hadn't slept all night and I was definitely not wearing makeup.
Exactly how one might imagine the lead-up for their debut on national television, right? Right.
I will take any questions you might have in the comment section. But before you begin, I will just point out that I remember being almost hypnotized by the combination of the thickness of Jay Leno's makeup and the giant camera zooming in on my face. I will point out that I had about 20-30 fellow band members in the audience with me and not one of them cheered or offered support when I blankly blinked into the camera and uttered "Hillcrest" as where I went to school. No, I never was able to use my gift certificate for a free meal at Mumms because the choir director wouldn't allow it despite the fact that my friend's mom was one of the chaperones and volunteered to take us. And finally, I would like to tell Jay Leno that education is a legitimate college major. It wasn't mine but what did I know, I didn't figure out my final major until midway through my sophomore year.