By GLENN NUOTIO
Songs have been an integral part of sports and public spectacle, perhaps even before music was itself one of the contests alongside the physical events of the ancient Olympics.
When the July 17 pep rally was announced to cheer on the OTTAWA REDBLACKS before their Friday, July 18 sold-out home opener against the Toronto Argonauts, the football fan in me had to check it out. With the added news that popular Atlantic Canadian rock band The Trews were chosen to play Friday’s first-ever pregame show at TD Place, the musician in me wondered how else music would play a part in the festivities.
At one point in the pep rally, mascot Big Joe flipped his axe handle over into a pretend mic and lip-synched a Shania Twain song. That was followed by Ottawa-based country vocal trio Blackwell singing “REDBLACKS style”, a modified-version of their new single “Redneck Style,” which will be released to radio next week.
Questions swirled: With a sold-out stadium crowd on Friday and a diverse city with CFL players from all over North America, would the soundtrack to motivate this new generation of #RNation take a regional Ontario approach?
Not being a huge country rock fan, was I just being a music snob?
Did our new CFL team have an official song yet?
What kind of music did the REDBLACKS as a team play in practice getting ready this week?
What about each player? What music do they need to prepare for the big moment?
I surveyed others at the rally to see if I could find out some answers.
“I don’t play the kind of music that works in a football stadium.” – James Taylor
A HIT WITH THE FANS
Football fan DAN GARVEY works for the city of Ottawa.
At the pep rally, his fashion choice was a definite fan-pleaser. Like the outfit, his favourite sports anthem predates the return of football to Lansdowne Park.
“I’ve had this kilt for years. It was my family tartan, and now I’m happy it fits with the REDBLACKS.”
When asked about weaving music into sports, he still associates Queen’s “We Are The Champions” with football.
Despite the victory anthem, he noted:
“I’m trying to stay realistic about the REDBLACKS chances this year. I’m just hoping for a decent first-season overall.”
Knowing what popular tunes will be tossed into the crowd between plays on game day was still under wraps to any member of the REDBLACKS staff. It was being organized this week and is at the discretion of OSEG’s Game Day Producer, (live sports/ events producer, and self-described music snob) Paul Prose.
Based on the energy of their pep rally routines, the REDBLACKS Cheer team are well-rehearsed and ready to get everyone into the game. After their opening routine to “Happy” by Pharrell Williams, and between photo ops and autograph signing, the cheerleaders (under Lisa Aucoin, Director of Cheerleading and Dance, and ‘Jessica and Melany’, their choreography and dance coaches) say they are trying to “make sure there’s something for everyone.”
Then, I got the scoop on which songs are lined up for Friday’s home opener:
However, in a generational switch, it might also be the 2014 dance hit by David Guetta & Showtek.
HEARING FROM THE PLAYERS
The first member of the REDBLACKS team was #81 PATRICK LAVOIE . The 26 year-old fullback from Saint-Flavie, QC talked about the team’s use of music this week and how his personal tastes differ from the consensus of the locker room.
“Before the game I listen to Metallica, that kinda stuff, more than rap. During the week, it’s rap, we listen to that always. The guys put it on the stereo. But before the game, I got my own music.”
Q. What is it about Metallica that gets you ready?
“ I don’t know. That’s a good question. I’ve been a fan maybe since I was about 10 years old”
According to bleacherreport.com , “Enter Sandman” by Metallica ranks as #24 of The 50 Greatest Sports Songs of All Time
The whole problem can be stated quite simply by asking, ‘Is there a meaning to music?’
My answer would be, ‘Yes.’ And ‘Can you state in so many words what the meaning is?’
My answer to that would be, ‘No.’ – Aaron Copland (1900 – 1990)
In the photo gallery below, find out what artists help each player get game-ready. The differences might be more surprising and revealing than you’d think:
WHAT ABOUT BIG JOE?
Of course, Big Joe was far too busy entertaining the crowd to take time out and answer any questions about his favourite music or inspirational artists.
The REDBLACKS mascot, however, doesn’t have his own theme song, yet.
Maybe the band Blackwell can help.
The Ottawa country vocal trio’s new song ‘Redneck Style” just came back from being mixed in Nashville and is hitting Canadian country radio stations starting July 21 through an American distribution label. Outside of steel guitar and fiddle (provided by session players in Nashville), Carey Blackwell played every other instrument on the release.
During their energetic extended pep rally set, the band changed the new single’s title to “REDBLACKS Style” which gave a fresh charge to the crowd. I think they sang the new version at least twice. Between sets, singer Braiden Turner explained “I feel like this is a real party song. We wanted something hardcore, and this would totally fit with football.”
Will Big Joe and the REDBLACKS new #RNATION have their own signature tune one day as well? Maybe a Blackwell/CFL licensing deal might be the next big thing for the union of music and football in Ottawa.
You can hear the original song ‘Redneck Style’ here below.
If you’re a fan, ask for it on country radio stations starting this summer, or find it here on iTunes.
OUTSIDE VOICE follows musician and writer Glenn Nuotio as he chats with artists, musicians, newsmakers, and community builders. This new column is published at OttawaMagazine.com.