Mauston High School alumni Shawn and Alaina Laursen may have traded their gold and blue for cardinal red and white, but they’re coming home on Saturday and bringing their friends with them.
The Laursens are bringing the University of Wisconsin Marching Band to Mauston on Saturday for a 2 p.m. show at the high school gymnasium. The brother and sister duo were members of Mauston’s famed “Cheesehead Band” in high school and passed a stringent tryout process to become members of one of the elite marching bands in collegiate sports.
Tickets for the show are $10 and are available at the door, along with several other locations throughout Juneau County.
On Saturday, 150 members of the 300-member band will perform several classics, along with its famous “Fifth Quarter” at MHS. The band, under the direction of Professor Mike Leckrone, is scheduled to perform tunes from Ben E. King, Nothin’ But The Blues, Sounds of Simon, Frank Sinatra, and classics performed regularly at the Kohl Center.
Jennifer Laursen, mother of Shawn and Alaina, said her children’s passion for playing the UW band started in high school under the direction of MHS band director Roger Spindler. Shawn Laursen, a senior at UW, has been in the band all four years, while Alaina, a sophomore, is enjoying her first year with the marching band.
“It’s an honor to have somebody from Mauston make the band,” Spindler said.
Jennifer Laursen, along with Dana Butts, a Mauston resident and UW band alumnae, have been working on bringing the band to MHS since November. According to Laursen, from January through early April, the band travels around the state performing shows on the weekends. This Saturday’s concert will be the final stop on its annual tour. The band will perform its finale spring concert at the Kohl Center the weekend of April 15-17.
“Having alumni in the band really helps getting them to come to your school,” Butts said. “They’re very interactive with the audience and they do a lot of fun stuff for kids, like the ‘Chicken Dance.’”
“This is not like a typical sit-down concert,” Laursen said. “They will be doing both their halftime and fifth quarter performances on Saturday. Leckrone also tries to set the record for the world’s fastest ‘Chicken Dance,’ so be ready.”
Spindler said this is the second time the UW band has played in Mauston, but the first appearance in about 10 years. Saturday’s concert will run for about an hour and 45 minutes.
Historically, the band started playing at UW football games in 1894 and has become one of the nation’s top performers at collegiate sporting events.
“My kids are both very excited to come back to Mauston and perform, especially my son since it’s his last year,” Laursen said.
The band’s concert in Mauston is an ideal opportunity to see most of the band live without having to travel to Camp Randall Stadium for a home football game. Spindler said Saturday’s crowd should be ready for a truly unique musical experience.
“Mike Leckrone is just energy and it just grabs you and you just really enjoy it,” Spindler said.
“Just like the fifth quarter after football games, they’ll be rolling on the floor playing,” Laursen said. “It’s pretty crazy to see some of the stuff they do.”
Those interested in attending can also purchase tickets prior to the show at the Bank of Mauston (Juneau County and Wisconsin Dells locations), Festival Foods in Mauston, Raabe’s Pharmacy in New Lisbon, Royal Bank in Mauston, Elroy, Adams and New Lisbon, and Mauston, Royall, Necedah, New Lisbon and Wonewoc-Center High Schools.