Members of The Sound of USD, also known as The University of South Dakota Coyote Marching Band, played a chorus of the famous Bruce Channel hit instrumentally, and then began singing its very familiar lyrics Thursday afternoon, Oct. 28 to a very special guest:
"Hey hey-ey, Baby,
I wanna know-o-o
If you'll be my girl."
Catherine Longworth, who regularly hobnobs with the Queen of England and other dignitaries in her role as Lord Mayor, drank in the sights and sounds of the The Sound of USD. She looked regal in her long, red coat trimmed in fur.
And she clearly loved every moment of the band's performance.
Longworth arrived in Vermillion Thursday, Oct. 28, to be greeted by the band and university and city officials in the Warren M. Lee Center for the Fine Arts on the USD campus.
Her purpose that afternoon was simple: to formally invite The Sound of USD to tour London, England and to perform at London's New Year's Day Parade in January 2012.
"I just love how you play," she told the musicians as they gathered in the center's John Day Art Gallery. "I am a big fan of matching bands."
And she made a quick observation while standing in her long red coat in front of the band members, all in full uniform.
"We match!" Longworth said. "That's terrific. We're all going to make a great team. It is a huge privilege to be here. It's also a huge privilege to be representing the Lord Mayoralty."
Longworth was elected to Westminster City Council in 1994 and served as vice-chair of the Education Committee, chair of Social Services and cabinet member for Environment & Leisure before becoming Lord Mayor in 2004.
Currently, she is a non-executive director and deputy chair of Westminster's NHS Primary Care Trust, chair of Francis Holland Schools Trust, and is heavily involved with two arts charities in the United Kingdom.
Her husband, John Longworth, and London Parade and Festival directors Robert and Geraldine Bone accompanied her to Vermillion.
"Over the last 26 years, we developed a pretty impressive team of people around the United States, and they go around the country and tell us which bands are good, and which bands would merit an invitation to our event," Robert Bone said.
A steering committee made up of several dignitaries, including the Lord Mayor, gave the green light to the recommendation to invite The Sound of USD to London.
"And so, hence, we're here today to invite them (the band) to 2012," he said.
"My impression is fantastic," Longworth said following Thursday's formalities. "What a wonderful band; they are wonderful musicians, and it's great to be able to give them the invitation to come to London next year, because it's a great opportunity for them, and a great opportunity for us to see how they do in London, and for them to spread the word about South Dakota a bit. They're great; they really are."
She noted that the London New Year's Day Parade and Music Festival is the high point of the entire year.
"It is huge. It is watched by so many people. It is just a fantastic show," Longworth said. In her position as Lord Mayor, she serves as patron of the parade, along with the queen and prime minister of England. "It's cold, so the kids have to dress up warm, but the adrenaline keeps them going. And the bands that are involved just play their hearts out, and it's wonderful to watch."
Jonathan Alvis, the band's director, received a written invitation in September for The Sound of USD to participate in the 2012 parade.
"I was kind of shocked, and we did some investigating, and figured out that this was something that we really wanted to do," he said. "The band members are really excited about this … they get a little giddy each time the trip is mentioned."
Preparations for the parade will begin in earnest next fall.
"Over the summer, we won't do much," Alvis said, "but after marching band season next year, we'll continue to do things to get ready for both the trip, and all of the logistics that are involved, and of course the actual performance in the parade."