Side by Side: 1978 and 2014 Blue Jay Marching Band Halftime Performances
Jesuit has a rich history. Within the past few decades, more and more of that history has been captured on video. The Blue Jay Marching Band has two noteworthy videos to share — both from state football championship game halftime shows in the Superdome. One is from 2014, and the other is from 36 years prior, in 1978. While the quality of the videos isn’t the best, the history makes up for it.
The 1978-1979 band had just lost its director of 15 years, Marion J. Caluda, who retired from his post. This change made the student band leaders nervous, so they took it upon themselves to plan band activities for the upcoming school year.
Joe Caluda ’79 (Marion Caluda’s son) was a senior and the drum line captain that year. He, along with the drum major Ray Montalbano ’79, band captain Michael Haydel ’79, and Greg Merritt ’80 (who helped arrange the music), spent a lot of time over the summer of 1978 at Caluda’s house picking music, developing formations and drills, and scheduling rehearsals. “Since we didn’t know who would be in charge, we kind of took over,” Caluda said.
“My senior year was the year of new band directors,” Caluda added. That year, the band had three different directors. The third band director, Bruce Pollack, who arrived after Christmas, kept the position for a couple of years.
The students held onto the reins of the program throughout the fall semester. When the football team reached the state finals versus St. Augustine, they wanted to do something special.
“We knew from their history that the St. Augustine band would do some sort of dance,” Caluda said. “We decided we would surprise the crowd and do a dance too.” The student directors chose to perform two songs that were dance-able: one by Brothers Johnson and the other by Rick James. “It was so unexpected … the crowd loved it.”
This historical, student-guided performance was captured on film, 16mm to be exact.
Caluda has a collection of old 16mm video reels still in cans stored in Jesuit’s band room. He said some of the reels are in bad shape and not viewable, some are viewable but have no sound, and then there is this gem. He dug out the 1978 reel and had it put on a DVD. Although the sound quality of the video is admittedly poor, it is preserved. “We’re lucky that this one was not only viewable, but also had some sound.”
The 1978 video (shown below) is a collage of performances from that school year. The last few minutes of this footage show the efforts realized by the dedicated student band leaders in the 1978 state football championship halftime performance in the Superdome.
Back in the Dome
Fast forward to the 2014-2015 school year, when Caluda and Merritt are still involved with the Blue Jay Marching Band.
Performing in the 2014 football state championship halftime show were Caluda’s sons, Matthew ’17 and Samuel ’18, and Merritt’s son, Jordan ’18. This year’s band is under the direction of Joe Caluda ’79 (a position he has held since 1998) and led by drum major Patrick Fine ’15. They performed “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen and “Crazy Train” by Ozzy Osbourne. This time though, all the dance moves were left to the Jayettes.
The 2014 video (also shown below) was shot on a mobile phone by a parent seated in the stands at the Superdome.