Flasher Brass livens up the court


Sophomore George Bagoy plays the clarinet during Kent States basketball game against Buffalo on Saturday Feb. 28, 2015. The Flasherbrass Basketball Band consists of woodwinds, brass, bass guitar and a rhythm section.

Dara Sander

Kent State basketball consists of the games played, the cheers and screams from the fans and the “Flasher Brass” — Kent State’s pep band that brings high energy to the court.

The band’s role is to motivate and support Kent State men’s and women’s basketball games. 

“Our job is to create that so-called home court advantage for our teams,” said John Franklin, director of the Flasher Brass and assistant professor in the School of Music. “The energy level, when the game’s in play — the chanting, the cheering and the sportsman-like harassment to the other team — that is what we do.”

Franklin said he likes to think of the Flasher Brass as being the preferable “sixth man,” particularly on defense. The Flasher Brass is there for support but also to entertain.

“Entertaining our fans, giving a great atmosphere for our games and supporting our teams — that’s really what we’re about,” Franklin said.

Flasher Brass brings all of its energy and commitment to every game. Members understand that they serve as musical ambassadors of Kent State, Franklin said. 

“We’re loud and rowdy all the time. It’s definitely a work out, jumping up and down and screaming,” said Josh Jones, senior electronic media major and tenor saxophone player.  “I think it’s a good direction for the band to be moving.” 

Franklin said the Flasher Brass’ dedication level is far above the average student — they don’t just show up to play at a game because they have to be there. 

Jones and Bryan Bidwell, a baritone player and sophomore health service administration major, joined the Flasher Brass as freshmen at Kent State. 

Jones said after a semester of Kent State marching band, he decided to join the Flasher Brass because that’s normally what a lot of the other band kids do. 

“I joined Flasher Brass because I love basketball, the atmosphere during the games, the passion and drive that our band has to support our school and that drive to be in the best band in the MAC,” Bidwell said.  

The band has “rapidly grown in both the size of the band and the scope of what we do just in the past two or three years,” Franklin said. 

“Before I came last fall, there was maybe 25 or 30 members on a good day, and last year we had about 50 members,” Franklin said. “This year, they’re pushing 70 members in the band.”

Bidwell said that the Flasher Brass is focused on helping the Flashes win when they are down in points. Bidwell is also one of three Spirit Leaders in the band. 

Spirit Leaders get the energy pumped up for the pep band. Each has one main thing they are good at. 

“One spirit leader is good at yelling and distracting the players when they’re shooting free throws…(another) one is good at working with the woodwinds…I’m good at starting the cheers,” Bidwell said “We make sure we work with the dance team, and the cheerleaders, and the crew, to make sure we’re all on the same page. 

“We’re very vibrant, energetic and motivational,” Bidwell said. “From last year to this year, I can honestly say we’ve taken bigger strides to support our athletics.” 

This season, the Flasher Brass has gotten into its groove and found its identity as a group. They are excited for where they are headed as a group but would like more financial support from the university so they can continue to be a strong support for Kent State’s athletic teams, Franklin said. 

”Neither the School of Music or the athletics department seems to have enough money to give us what we need,” Jones said. “For example, this year, we don’t have uniforms for the pep band, which is a pretty big negative in my eyes.”

Franklin said he is hopeful that new uniforms and more support and attention from the athletic department will be put into action after the changes to the athletic department take place.

Flasher Brass strives to support Kent State’s teams no matter what happens during the games.

“It doesn’t matter if we’re up 30 points or down 30 points. It doesn’t matter if we’re going to the line to make a free throw shot to win the game at the very end; we’re going to be constant and be there for our team,” Franklin said. “Our support of the team isn’t affected by their success or their failure. We’re 100 percent behind them no matter what every single time.”

Flasher Brass mixes up their music, so it gets the attention of the teams and caters to every type of fan at the games with their eclectic approach to music compared to other bands, Franklin said.  

“What I’ve seen in my experience, you see bands that play only the old, stale stuff a lot of times and then you have bands that never touch the old stuff, they only play what’s current in pop. I think we’re one of the best in terms of just having a wide variety,” Franklin said.

One strength, Jones said, is that the band keeps their musical selections fresh and current, which has become a high standard. 

The Flasher Brass’ music ranges from “Shout” by The Isley Brothers and “Hey Baby,” by Bruce Channel to new music such as Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” and “Bang, Bang” by Jessie J, Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj, along with “All of the Lights” by Kanye West.

When it comes down to it, the sense of community is the biggest aspect of the Flasher Brass for the students participating in it, Franklin said.

“Each of the sections are really good at bonding. Sometimes we (the different sections) have our own cheers,” Jones said. 

“Seeing everybody want to be here and love to be here and you can feel it on the court as well,” Bidwell said. “It’s great to know that everybody wants the same thing; we all want to see our athletic program thrive. We want to see the community come together.” 

Jones said he feels that the Flasher Brass is a very friendly group and that not every college band can say that about themselves. 

“It’s all about the students, hanging out with them, and seeing them develop, seeing them have a good time, and seeing them have a meaningful experience. That really makes me the happiest and gives me the most joy for the job,” Franklin said.

The Flasher Brass is excited for possible post-season games and the upcoming MAC tournament, which begins March 9.

“We take one game at a time. We’re always trying to get better at every single game, so by the time we hit post-season we’re operating like a well-oiled machine. We try to add a couple new tunes each game. So we have a robust and healthy playlist that we can chose from for the tournament,” Franklin said. 

Contact Dara Sander at [email protected].