A wild time with The Wild Bunch


Photo credit: Genevieve Humphreys

Photo by Genevieve Humphreys

Scott Neale, professor in the Department of Human Communication and Theatre, and his band, The Wild Bunch, took the stage on upper campus last Friday evening for Trinity University’s sesquicentennial kick-off commemoration. Students, faculty, alumni and their families gathered for an evening or carnival rides, free food and animal petting while grooving to The Wild Bunch’s music.

The setlist for the concert was rife with crowd-pleasing tunes. With covers of classic rock favorites like “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd and “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond, the intention was to get people up and moving. Neale explains that it was important for his band to play these popular songs because of the diversity in Friday night’s crowd.

“You don’t want to drive people away by playing songs that only appeal to a niche crowd. At the end of the day, it’s all about a community of people having a good time, and it was our job to facilitate that as best as possible,” Neale said.

First-year student Ben Falcon remarked that the music and especially the song selection made him feel more connected to the university. Noting that the music seemed directed at both students and alumni Falcon said, the concert made him feel nostalgic for the university, as well as excited to be a student.

“It was impressive to see a Trinity professor showcasing his talents like that, the whole thing made me proud to be a Trinity student,” Falcon said.

The Wild Bunch had been hard at work rehearsing for Friday’s concert. Neale says they started rehearsing for the February concert back in August. However, he also explains that his band has lots of experience.

“Between the four of us, we have over 100 years of live music experience. Each of us has been playing for a long time, so it’s pretty easy to just get up on stage and jam. It’s sort of like riding a bike in that respect,” Neale said. “Once you know a song and get past the initial wobbly parts, it’s pretty simple to come back to it even after a month or so without falling off.”

Neale explained that their collective musical experience allows them to remain versatile and ready to improvise. When it started raining at Friday’s concert, his band was ready to go, humorously playing “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” by Creedence Clearwater Revival.

“Luckily, the rain at the event only lasted the length of the song. Some would say it’s almost like we planned it that way,” Neale said.

“The music was mostly 80s hits, which was probably popular among the alumni at the event,” said Christina Hoffman, another first year student in attendance at Friday’s concert.

As a part of the 150th commemoration planning committee, Neale was particularly invested in the event and excited to celebrate Trinity.

“Trinity is celebrating 150 years as a school that is constantly remaking itself,” Neale said. “By celebrating the anniversary, we are really bringing to light the long, rich history that we have.”

For Neale it was a way to give back to the university and be a part of its remaking process. He says it’s humbling that such a long-standing institution would value his expertise enough to bring him on board for its sesquicentennial.

“This was a way for me to share another aspect of my life with the Trinity Community outside of my teaching and professional work,” Neale said. “I absolutely love listening to and playing music, so this really was sort of a dream scenario for me. It’s a passion for me that is unaffiliated with the word ‘work’ on any level.”