Showbands Live!

If the weather forecast is true, there won’t be a better place to take cover on Stampede Park tomorrow than in the Saddledome watching some of the best marching show bands from around the world compete at Showbands Live!

This premiere musical and marching showcase will feature marching bands from around the world (like Australia and the U.S.) and around the corner (like the winner of Best Junior Band in this year’s Stampede Parade, Calgary’s own Round Up Band).

All competing bands will perform in the afternoon preliminary competition beginning at 1:00 p.m. The slate is wiped clean and the afternoon finalists compete during the evening round starting at 6:00 p.m.

These talented youth combine musical elements from marching, pop, jazz and classical styles – adding dance, creativity, colour and choreography – to present world-class musical and visual performances. An international panel will judge the field of competitors who will vie for top honours and a share of $18,000 in prize money.

Watch for exhibition performances from the crowd pleasing Band of Outriders and one of the largest visiting bands we’ve ever seen here in Calgary – the Second Time Arounders from Arizona, a group almost 300 strong. A new champion of Showbands Live will collect their title at the Awards Ceremony at 9 p.m.

Admission to the Pengrowth Saddledome is free with Park entry.

Marching bands can be enjoyed daily during the 10 days of Stampede in non-competitive performances at Stampede Park, Fluor Rope Square and Stampede breakfasts and events throughout the city.  Check out the Calgary Stampede Visiting Bands page on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @Showbandslive for complete daily schedules.

MACBDA 2011 – Calgary plays host to a marching grand championship

Who doesn’t love an awesome acronym?? Especially when you find out it has something to do with marching bands and some tough competition?

This year during Stampede, Calgary is host to one of the foremost marching field competition circuits in North America – the Mid-America Competing Bands Director’s Association (or, MACBDA). And you better shift your Stampede calendar around if you don’t think you’re going to have time to take this in – it promises to be one of the best showcases of our visiting show bands during the entire 10 days!

A little history lesson on our new favourite acronym: In 1972, a group of friends in the American Midwest came together with a common goal:  create a summer band circuit so that their students can have the opportunity to experience band as they had – and build friendships and musicianship along the way. That group of friends became the Mid-America Competing Band Directors Association and their bands became some of the best in the country. 

Starting with preliminary competition at McMahon Stadium at 6 p.m. on Saturday July 9, this premiere event includes some of the best marching show bands from the United States and Canada. The bands perform their full field shows for audiences and judges and are marked on everything from show general effect to percussion to musical performance.

It’s a great venue and we’re so lucky to have this caliber of show bands here during the Stampede. So if you’re looking to escape the crowds and seek a little shade on the west side of McMahon Stadium, don’t miss out on the MACBDA Grand Championships, beginning Saturday July 9. Finals will take place Wednesday night (starting at 6 p.m.) at McMahon Stadium.

Look for these local bands vying for bragging rights (and more) at the MACBDA Grand Championships:

Calgary Stampede Show Band
Calgary Stetson Show Band
Calgary Round Up Band
Bishop Grandin Marching Ghosts

Learn more about MACBDA.

Countdown to Step Off…

The countdown is on and the pressure is mounting – especially with an even more regal audience than normal! The legendary Calgary Stampede parade is only a couple of days away and you can just feel the excitement in the air.

We have marching musicians from all over the world (and just around the corner) fighting some major butterflies in their stomachs today as they put the final touches on their parade performances. Polishing instruments, final rehearsals (that sometimes last for hours and hours on end), pressing uniforms and breaking in their marching shoes – it’s all part of preparing for the rush of seeing thousands of people gathered to see the parade go by.

For 2011, we have bands that are experiencing their first Stampede (yahoo and a warm Stampede welcome to our first timers!!), and others who haven’t missed a parade since, well, almost since the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth came to be!

There will be 18 bands in this year’s Stampede parade – some from as far away as Australia and some as big as 315 members. Be sure to give them a warm Calgary welcome and let them know you appreciate how much work goes into what they do! There’s no faking it – these talented folks work super hard to look, sound and be as good as they are.

And don’t forget: your local Calgary bands are some of the most impressive on the planet, so be sure to let them know how proud you are of the hard work, commitment, time and pride they put into what they do. They represent you around the world – just like our visiting bands do for the places they’re from – wouldn’t you want your local bands to feel the love from other crowds!?

So when you hear them coming, clap in time to the music and give them a big YAHOO – especially if you’re on the east of 9th Avenue at the end of the route….they need the boost of energy and support from the crowd!


Day 8 – Visiting Bands Continue to Please….

Can you believe it’s almost over?? It’s amazing how quickly these 10 days fly by – you grab a corndog, catch the rodeo and chucks, see a show or two and, before you know it, it’s the second Sunday!!

Most of our visiting bands are starting to pack up their equipment and make their way home – we’ve even closed up shop at our Visiting Bands Committee office in the school where all the bands stay during Stampede week. Would you believe that two of our committee members actually LIVE at the school during Stampede? Talk about the ultimate hosts! And they do an amazing job of making sure everyone is happy and safe…it’s that kind of dedication that makes Stampede volunteers so special.

Our bands performed all over the City this week – from Caravan breakfasts, to Rope Square, to right on Stampede Park. And they were fantastic (be sure to check out the photos below)! They played and marched their hearts out, and they did it in some crazy weather! Plus 30 in the blazing sun or intense winds and heavy rain – these bands never failed to please. We’re so grateful they were able to join us for the Calgary Stampede, and we thank them for the great entertainment and new friendships.

We hope they all have the chance to join us in 2011 when the Stampede will host the Mid-America Competing Band Directors Association (MACBDA), which will mean more bands and more intense competition for Showbands Live!

If you’re looking for some performances today:

“Bands Around Town” – Day 8
Britannia Plaza Caravan – Calgary Stetson Show Band
Sunridge Mall Caravan – Calgary Round-Up Band
On Park – Calgary Stetson Show Band

Australian Youth Band Southern Stars

Eastbourne Kingfishers

The Eastbourne Kingfishers (and special guest Simon the Safety Bear) play the McKenzie Towne Stampede Breakfast.

Showbands Live Results

What an amazing day yesterday at the Calgary Stampede for our visiting and local marching show bands!!

Showbands Live! kicked off yesterday at 1:00 p.m. with the preliminary competition in the Saddledome. Finals began at 6:00 p.m. It was an outstanding showcase of all of the musical and marching talent we have visiting from around the world and right here in the heart of Calgary. I’m sure the hundreds of music fans that stopped by in the afternoon and the evening would tell you it was a must-see event – these bands put in extraordinary time and effort into making it look as easy as they do!

And the results are in!

Placement Band Name Hometown Score Prize Money
1st Bishop Grandin Marching Ghosts Calgary, AB 88.0 $7 500
2nd Calgary Stetson Show Band Calgary, AB 84.0 $4 000
3rd Red Deer Royal Concert & Marching Show Band Red Deer, AB 80.5 $2 500
4th Calgary Round-Up Band Calgary, AB 73.1 $2 000
5th Sandra Day O’Connor Eagle Pride Band Phoenix, AZ 72.8 $1 500
6th Spirit of Alberta Marching Band Magrath, AB 61.9 $500


This well-deserved win capped off a hugely successful Stampede week for the Bishop Grandin Marching Ghosts – they also took Best Canadian Band, Best Overall Band, and Best Senior Band in the Calgary Stampede Parade. Overall at the 2010 Stampede, Grandin has a total of more than $13,000 in prize money! Outstanding and a great pay off for the many hours (and sweat and tears and muscle) these young people poured into what they love to do! And they’re so good at it!

Another highlight of the night was the new Spectators Choice award – the audience got the final say on this one. 2010 is the first year for this award, and the audience chose the Calgary Round Up Band and their entertaining construction-themed field show as their favourite. Round Up also went home with the Southland Transportation Award, which recognizes the band that displays care for each other, accountability, responsibility and a great attitude for the 10 days that Southland Transportation ferries them from performance to performance. That one may just be the best award of the night! Way to go Round Up!

All of the competing shows were so awesome! It was so much fun to watch as they all looked fantastic (from high up in the media booth to down on the floor), and the rain helped to bring in the crowds. So – for all of you who stumbled on some spectacular entertainment thanks to Mother Nature, be sure to make note and join us in 2011 when we’ll be hosting even more bands from around the world at Showbands Live!

Congratulations, bands! You were AMAZING!

Celebrate Bastille Day AND the Calgary Stampede!

We’ve got a super exciting and unique marching band performance for everyone to check out Wednesday afternoon (July 14)!

If you don’t know, Wednesday is actually Bastille Day. Bastille Day is the French National holiday which commemorates the 1790 Fête de la Fédération, held on the first anniversary of the storming of the Bastille on July 14,1789. The anniversary of the storming of the Bastille fortress-prison was seen as a symbol of the uprising of the modern nation, and of the reconciliation of all the French inside the constitutional monarchy which preceded the First Republic, during the French Revolution. (You’re welcome for the French history lesson!).

To celebrate Bastille Day, the Band of the Royal Canadian Artillery and the Bagad de Lann-Bihoue, a visiting French Naval Band based in Lorient, Bretagne, France will perform for the public at Mewata Armoury (801 – 11 ST S.W.). The concert starts at 2 p.m. and goes until 4 p.m.

The Bagad de Lann-Bihoue is 32 members strong, divided into three groups by instruments: bagpipes, bombards (double reed oboes) and battery (drums).  Very few bands of this kind have the bombards to accompany the bagpipes – it truly is a unique performance.

One of six Regular Force military bands in Canada, The Royal Canadian Artillery Band is proudly affiliated with the Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery. The “Army Band of the West” is comprised of 35 professional musicians and stationed at Canadian Forces Base Edmonton. Representing all elements of the Canadian Forces, The RCA Band performs regularly in the Edmonton area, Alberta and abroad. In May, the RCA Band toured to the Netherlands to perform in ceremonies commemorating the 65th Anniversary of the Liberation of the Netherlands.

Don’t miss the opportunity to view two contrasting styles of military musical performances, and to celebrate Bastille Day with these two talented groups of musicians!

And joyeux quatorze julliet!

Bands Around Town – Day Three

Suncor Energy Family Day at the Stampede kicked off this morning with an extremely well attended Hays Breakfast. Admission to the Park was free before 9 a.m. and, from the look of the crowds, many people took advantage of the opportunity to get on Park and enjoy a great breakfast.

The Bishop Grandin Marching Ghosts (who had an AMAZING Stampede Parade by taking Best Canadian, Best Senior, and Best Overall Band) performed early this morning for the crowds at Stampede Park. They certainly seem to be a crowd favourite this year. Can’t wait to see their field show on Tuesday in the Saddledome at Showbands Live! (Prelims starting at 1 p.m. and finals at 6 p.m.).

Bishop Grandin Marching Ghosts

The Bishop Grandin Marching Ghosts perform at 2010 Suncor Energy Family Day.

Although we’ve had a bit of rain over the first couple of days – our bands did a great job!   Australian Youth Band and Cranbrook Girls Bugle Band both made it through the rain and performed for Stampede guests yesterday afternoon.  Saturday was Australian Youth Band’s last performance with us for this year and the Visiting Bands Committee of the Stampede wants to extend a very special ‘thanks’ to them for some great performances and wonderful times!

If you have the chance you must try to take in the evening show “Ignite” on park (Bell Midway Circus).  It features the Stampede Showband, a diver lit on fire and music synchronized with the evening fireworks – great entertainment!

Today is definitely our busiest day for breakfasts – so go out and watch a band, take pictures and enjoy the pancakes!

“Bands Around Town” – Day 3
Family Day Breakfast – Bishop Grandin
Hays Breakfast – Bagad de Lann-Bihoue
Oakridge Breakfast – Cranbrook
Scenic Acres Breakfast – Red Deer Royals
On Park – Red Deer Royals
Tractor Pull – Scout Band

Band Ten-hut!

Butterflies in the stomach, nervous anticipation, the inability to stand still…all of these physical and emotional reactions are experienced by our marching band performers just before they step off for the Calgary Stampede parade. Talk about adrenalin!

Musicians and performers that have felt the rush of seeing thousands of people gathered to watch the parade go by will tell you there’s no other feeling like it in the world. The cheers, the colours, the cameras – it all adds up to a once in a lifetime experience.

And it’s more work than you might think!

It takes plenty of practice (and practice, and practice), talent and commitment to look as good as these bands do. Mastering an instrument is tough enough – try memorizing an entire roster of songs while marching in perfect lines, in perfect time with 100 other people. Impressive, right?

So, when you see a marching band coming your way on parade day (actually, scratch that – you’ll hear them long before you see them) – be sure to stand up and cheer. (Especially if you’re somewhere on the east end of 9th Avenue at the end of the parade – they need a boost of energy!).

There will be 21 bands in this year’s Stampede parade – some from as far away as Australia and France. Be sure to give them a warm Calgary welcome and let them know you appreciate how much work goes into what they do! Clap in time to the music and give them a big YAHOO!

And save some love for your local hometown bands, too, because there are plenty of them.


Stampede Parade 2009

Getting to Know You…Visiting Bands at the Calgary Stampede.

It won’t be long now before bands from around the world will make their way to Calgary to kick off this year’s Stampede with the Calgary Stampede parade! Just a few more sleeps before the first bands arrive, so we wanted to give you a sneak peek at some of the talented groups you’ll be seeing throughout the ten days of the Calgary Stampede.

The Kingfishers Eastbourne Scout Band
Hometown: Eastbourne, East Sussex, United Kingdom
Age Range: 8 to 70 (wide range!)
The band wears light blue coloured sea scout shirt, white belt and black trousers. The sea scout shirt signifies that Eastbourne is a seaside town.
What kind of music does the band play:
The band plays drum and bugle marches as well as some traditional tunes played on the marching bells and trumpet.
Kingfishers Trivia:
The band was named The Kingfishers, after the name of the public house (or pub here in Canada) where band leaders would meet for a drink following band rehearsals.

Red Deer Royals Marching Show Band
Hometown: Red Deer, Alberta, Canada
Age Range: 12 to 21
Uniform: Red and black with silver highlights. This uniform was introduced in 2005.
Type of music the band plays: Contemporary parade marches and field show music – they are also a concert band for half of the year (the cold half, we suspect!).
Year of origin: 1969, following an Order in Council of the City of Red Deer.
Band’s Favourite Song: Soak Up the Sun

Tian Guo Marching Band
Hometown: Vancouver, BC, Canada
Number of Members: 70
Number of Years the Band has attended the Calgary Stampede: 2010 is their first visit!
Awards received by the Band: 1st Place at the 2009 City of Langley Community Day Parade, 2nd Place at the 2009 Port Coquitlam Rotary May Day Parade and 2nd Place at the 2009 White Rock Spirit of the Sea Festival Torch Light Parade.
Tian Guo Trivia: The Tian Guo Marching Band was originally formed in New York in 2005 and now has more than 12 branches in North America, Asia-Pacific and Europe.

Remember: you can see these bands all over town – from the parade, to local community events, to Rope Square in downtown Calgary, and all over Stampede Park.

Many of them will also be performing during Showbands Live! on Tuesday July 13 at the Pengrowth Saddledome. It’s a free event with your gate admission, so don’t miss out.

Visiting Bands of the Calgary Stampede – Don’t miss ‘em!

Well, yahoo everyone!!

This is the Visiting Bands first post, and we’re really excited to kick it off!

We’re getting so close to Day 1 of the 2010 Calgary Stampede – you can almost smell the pancakes on the griddle and sawdust in the air. If you’re a marching band fiend in Alberta, this is absolutely your favourite time of year.

We’ve got bands visiting from around the world in 2010 (including Australia and France) and some local favourites, too (the World Famous Calgary Stampede Marching Showband!!) – so don’t miss your chance to see all of them over the 10 days of Stampede. Keep an eye out for them at Stampede Park, at some of the downtown attractions like Rope Square, and at Caravan Breakfasts around the city. You’ll hear them before you see them…:)

And this is your place to get all the details of where and when the bands will be performing, what you can expect from their performances, and maybe even some ‘behind the scenes’ action!

Be sure to save the date for Showbands Live! Prelims will be Tuesday, July 13 in the afternoon starting at 1:00 p.m. in the Pengrowth Saddledome. The slate is wiped clean and the afternoon finalists compete during the evening round starting at 6:00 p.m. It’s a must see marching extravaganza!

Keep an eye on this blog for all the deets!