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Mean Machine alumni reunite
"We're getting the band back together"
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Pest returned to the stage that made them famous, along with nearly 50 other alumni, during the Mean Machine Winter Sports Music Show on Saturday, Nov. 10. - photo by Robert Callahan photo

There have been many Mean Machine Winter Sports Music Shows. There have been so many, in fact, the exact number is unknown.

“We have lost track,” explained Fennimore Middle/High School Band Director Larry Albrecht. “It happened about three or four years in a row. Then we ran into football playoffs and one year it was snowed out.

“Now we have been going at it again for about three or four years. So, probably 15 or so, in all.”

Between 45 and 50 Mean Machine alumni returned for the Winter Sports Music Show on Saturday night, Nov. 10.
“I enjoy seeing all the alumni come back,” Albrecht said. “That is so precious.”

Preparations for the show began at 10 a.m. Saturday and sound checks were held between 2:30 and 3 p.m. The show began at 7:30 p.m. and by 9:30 p.m. the satisfied crowd began to depart.

Among the alumni who returned to Fennimore were Caleb Zart, Micah Zart, Brad Albrecht and Matt Waterman, collectively known as “Pest.”

The origin story of “Pest” can be traced to the Fennimore Middle/High School Spring Fling talent show of 2001, where the band performed for an audience for the first time.

“We haven’t been playing a whole lot lately, but we were active for almost 10 years afterwards,” he said. “We are kind of on a hiatus now because everybody has a family and whatever else.”

Caleb, a 2002 graduate, appreciates the Mean Machine Winter Sports Music Show for the opportunity it gives him to dust off his trumpet.

“This is the only time I ever pick up my trumpet,” he said. “There is no reason to play outside of that. I love playing trumpet with the guys from high school again. It is a ton of fun.

“I like making music so I take every opportunity I can.”

Caleb is an animator for Raven Software in Madison.

Brad, a 2003 graduate, is a federal reporting analyst with Hewlett Packard in Madison.

“I always love coming back to play,” he said.

Tom Winkers made the journey to Saturday’s show from Markesan, where he is the band director at Markesan Middle/High School.

Winkers graduated in 1985. He recalls Larry Albrecht became band director when he was a seventh grader.

“Larry was a very big influence for me,” Winkers said.

Both graduates of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, Winkers and Albrecht march together in La Crosse’s Oktoberfest parade each fall.

The Mean Machine Winter Sports Music Show is not limited to just FHS alumni and students.
Shawn Grindemann, Boscobel, participated in the show in 2011 and again Saturday night.

“I think this show is phenomenal,” Grindemann said. “I think it is phenomenal what Larry has done.”

Grindemann provided special music in the form of an accordion polka.

Grindemann was joined at the show by his daughter, Ashley, and wife, Jeannine. His son, Aaron, is a freshman at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and a member of the Blugold band.

“I think this is an opportunity for the whole family to get together,” he said. “I think that is what it is all about.

“Musicians are their own kind of family.”

The alumni and friends, along with future alumni, played past “Mean Machine” hits such as “Tequila” and “Old Time Rock and Roll,” not to mention “Ghostbusters,” added just this year.

Kyle Lange, a Fennimore senior, participated in his first Mean Machine Winter Sports Music Show.

“This was so cool,” he said. “This was beyond expectation.”