Bum Band Spreads Hobo Day Spirit

Rebekah White, Reporter

The Bum Band is a renewed tradition known for spreading Hobo Day spirit through song. 

The South Dakota State University Bum Band is a student band made up of members of the Pride of the Dakotas marching band who get together to practice music in a different setting. The band dresses up as hobos and joins in on Hobo Week activities.

 This year, the band will be performing at Bum-a-Meal, Bumfire, Bumover, Rally at the Rails and the Hobo Day Parade. This year they will also be playing in the Union Wednesday, Oct. 20.

 The Bum Band takes songs they would traditionally play in the Pride, and adds a jazz twist to them. This has the effect of making a new song every time they play so that you never hear the same song the same way twice.

 The group uses different songs every year, but they do have a few that are used on a more regular basis. “JA DA” and “Far Across,” as well as a “Ring the Bells” jazz parody in the way of “Swing the Bells,” are some of the more common songs to play. According to Benjamin Connor, the Hobo Day Committee band coordinator, the band has about seven fun songs they play every year.

 When he thinks about being a part of the band, Gage Ruhlman thinks about SDSU tradition and fun. Ruhlman joined the Bum Band after being told that it would, “…be the most fun experience in college,” by a friend. Ruhlman’s favorite part of being in the band is going to all the Hobo events and spreading joy and fun.

 Another member of the band, Kelci Kooistra, said that Bum Band was about gaining relationships and having fun.

 The players work to make every song an experience to see and hear. They are always trying to be enthusiastic and fun with their music. The members also get together and look for bum outfits at Goodwill.  

The SDSU Bum Band has faded away as a tradition in the past. It was brought back six years ago by Miranda Mack. Connor says that to the community the Bum Band represents traditions coming back.

 Ruhlman has been a band member for the last four years. He was a member last year when they met to practice and had fun even though there were no events to play at, and the membership numbers were greatly reduced from the year before.

 Connor said that there were only seven or eight members last year. This was a sharp drop from the 31 members listed on the Bum Bands Facebook page since 2019. There are currently 21 members.

 There are a few things students need to know if they are interested in becoming part of the tradition next year. All members of the Bum Band have to be a part of the Pride. Members can bring their own instrument or borrow from the Pride if they want to play an instrument they do not own.

 The Hobo Day Committee band coordinator does recruitment for two weeks in early September and then the Bum Band begins practicing the next week. Practice is usually immediately after Pride practice.

 According to Ruhlman, Bum Band is different from The Pride, because there aren’t any rules and you can be who you are. 

“(Bum Band) is a great place to express yourself in your own way with your friends,” he said, and that he would “definitely recommend” joining to any who are interested.