Football season is rapidly approaching, and the Jaguars look poised to strike. Both the team and the city of Jacksonville have been hard at work making numerous improvements to prepare the Jags for the new NFL season this fall.
Despite last year’s mediocre season, Jacksonville’s die-hard fans have not lost faith and are hoping that with all the recent enhancements to the team, the Jaguars will have one of their best seasons in many, many years.
Among these hardcore supporters lies a special group of drummers who form the Jacksonville Jaguars Drumline or D-Line for short.
The Jaguars D-Line uses their beats to pump up the crowd and support the team by boosting morale both on, and off the field. This group of drummers performs for fans at not only games, but tailgates, parties, and special events throughout the area.
Their percussionists encompass a large background in drumming combining both drum corps and show drumline styles. The group then puts these skills together to play a wide array of mainstream genres such as hip-hop, Latin, rock, and many other styles of music.
Bon Stephens and Sione Tamaseu have both been on the Jaguars drumline for 10 years, since it was first formed. Stephens and Tamaseu are what are referred to as “core members” of the D-line and help out wherever they are needed.
“I look at Bon as my section leader, because he’s been on the bass [drum] for so many years, but I bounce back-and-forth between sections every now and then just to help out wherever the line needs it,” Tamaseu said.
There are a total of 18 drummers on the Jags’ D-Line at any given time with, six snares, three tenors, four cymbals, and five bass drummers.
The Jaguars D-Line was the second NFL team to form a drumline 10 years ago, shortly after the Denver Broncos formed theirs. Tennessee, Green Bay, and several other cities have since started a drumline, and there are currently seven active drumlines in the NFL.
The majority of the Jaguars’ drumline is formed from local Floridians, including, Stephens and Tamaseu. Many members of the drumline are recruited from various colleges in Florida, such as FSU’s famous program and UF’s “Pride of the Sunshine” marching band.
Stephens, who played in the marching band at Fletcher High School, said that after seeing a sign on the side of the road inviting people to try out for a Jaguars’ drumline, he was eager to join, and tried out, making the team shortly thereafter.
At only age 4, Tamaseu began playing drums in his parent’s family group. “My dad would bring drums home all the time and started teaching me how to play,” Tamaseu said. “By the time I got into sixth grade, I was put into private lessons and went through the whole band program at Landmark Middle School.” Tamaseu went on to play for the Sandalwood High School marching band, and a year after graduating, Tamaseu would try out and make the cut for the Jaguars’ D-Line.
Tamaseu said he and Stephens have been friends from the beginning of their time on the line, despite their rival origins in high school. “Since day one of the drumline 10 years ago, we just kind of hit it off. On the field [during games] you’ll see us next to each other goofing off or whatever.”
In addition to his work with the drumline, Stephens is also a charter member of Teal Sound Drum and Bugle Corps, which was originally founded in 1998, and based out of Jacksonville. Teal Sound was the only World Class corps in the state of Florida until going inactive as of 2012.
A drumline might sound a bit odd for an NFL team since it is typically associated with high school or college football programs, but Tamaseu said this is what fans love about the Jaguars’ D-Line.
“You go to an NFL team and they have the cheerleaders and the mascots, it’s basically just like a college game minus the band, and we try to bring in that extra experience to the game,” Tamaseu said.
The Jaguars’ drumline has opened for several big name acts since forming in 2003 such as Shania Twain, Usher, Jay-Z and even played at the Snooperbowl alongside Snoop Dogg … Oh. Excuse me, “Snoop Lion”.
Though they are most known for pumping up fans and boosting morale, Stephens said the drumline helps out in many other ways throughout the year off the field and around the community by playing for schools, fundraisers and other similar events.
Recently, the drumline performed an exclusive show for the Alden Road Exceptional Student Center, which cares for students with special needs. Stephens said the show at Alden Road was one of the team’s most memorable performances.
Both drummers said the city of Jacksonville has been very supportive to the Jaguars’ D-Line, and agreed that showing support for the team and entertaining fans is the ultimately the goal of the drumline.
“I support them 100%. I bleed teal,” Tamaseu said.
With the first game versus the Kansas City Chiefs closing in on September 9, you can be sure to catch the Jaguars’ D-Line after the game, win or lose, for their legendary post-game session under the Budzone.