A few minutes before the Lady Elks wrapped up their win on Saturday night, Augusta Schools’ music teacher, Susie Ford, and her students began prepping to play a few songs for the crowd.
Ford told the Sun Times that this was the first opportunity the Pep Band has hand a chance to play this season. She explained that she and the band members had been hit with illnesses and scheduling conflicts had made it hard for the band to make it to events.
Before long, sound was coming from the corner where there’s a permanent stage set up for the drum set. But this being a small community school, the show could not go on until some of the players who had just left the court were able to take to the stands with their instruments.
The music was tough to hear over the sound of dribbling basketballs and screeching sneakers, but from my vantage point in the corner, the sound was loud and clear.
There is one song that always brings a smile to my face. I grew up in the seventies. And, I tend to think some of the best music came out of the sixties and seventies. One of the best songs from that era is “Smoke on the Water,” by Deep Purple. The songwriters were Ritchie Blackmore, Ian Gillan, Roger D. Glover, Job Lord and Ian Paice.
And the Augusta Pep Band played the song Saturday night.
“Smoke on the Water,” many people may not know, was written about an actual event that took place in Montreux Switzerland. According to a National Public Radio story published online on March 8, 2015 titled, “A Swiss Town, A Casino Fire And ‘Smoke On The Water’”:
“The story goes that on Dec. 4, 1971, Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention were playing a gig at the Montreux casino. The band was nearly 90 minutes into the show, cranking through “King Kong,” when someone in the crowd fired a flare gun at the wooden roof, which instantly caught fire.
Frank Zappa and the Mothers were at the best place around,
But some stupid with a flare gun burned the place to the ground.”
(for the full article, visit https://n.pr/37szOos)
“Smoke on the Water” was written shortly after the fire and appeared on Deep Purple’s “Machine Head” album, which was released in 1972.
By the time the song was peaking on the FM AOR (Album Oriented Rock) station, WKIR, in my hometown of Jackson, Tennessee, I was blasting “Smoke on the Water” on the radio in my first truck, a used Ford Ranchero with a 351 Windsor. The “Machine Head” album was one of the first 8-track tapes I bought.
The song survives. 8-track tapes didn’t.
The pep band also played “Louie Louie” and wrapped up their playlist with the school song.
That brought everyone to their feet.