Ben Burford stepped up to the center stage at Bryant Denny stadium this fall, thanks to his darling wife Jean. After she placed a winning auction bid at the Arty Party, the College of Arts & Science's annual fundraising shindig, he got a turn directing the University of Alabama's Million Dollar Band at a home football game. It was a once-in-a-lifetime chance for the 1974 Alabama graduate and lifetime Tide fan.
Upon finding out, Ben first rose from his dramatic swoon, then sagely chose the game against Western Kentucky, a team Bama was heavily favored over, to overcome any possible Burford jinx or hijinks. "I would hate to do an important game and have us lose," Burford remarks.
The day of the game, Ben had a tooth-rattling cup of strong black coffee for breakfast. He donned his crimson collared shirt with palm trees (Chillwear), khaki shorts (REI), and University of Alabama Crocs (Bama Fever). He lastly donned a treasured relic, the Crimson Tide bow tie formerly borne by Tuscaloosa "colorful personality" Shorty Price.
When the time came for the National Anthem, Ben was directed to a tall ladder, prominent before the band and assembled thousands. A nameless assistant asked him, "Mr. Burford, are you gonna be okay on that ladder?" Ben, the experienced front man for decades-spanning cover band Chevy 6, waved the fretting youngster off and got his groove on.
"What struck me the most was, I'd never realized just what a fantastic organization the Million Dollar Band was, how dedicated, attentive, and courteous they all are. They all work their butts off."
Ben and Jean spent the rest of the game tearing it up in the student section with their son, Frank, watching the Tide roll to a 41-7 victory over the Hilltoppers.
Ben Burford is a partner at DavisDenny. For more of his exciting and colorful adventures, be sure to read Ben's Brazil Bacation.