The beat goes on for Marrowstone musician in CFP halftime show

Posted 1/25/21

Forrest Brennan went from his living room to the biggest stage in college football in the blink of an eye.

And he didn’t miss a beat.

Brennan, a former 2017 graduate of Chimacum High …

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The beat goes on for Marrowstone musician in CFP halftime show


Forrest Brennan went from his living room to the biggest stage in college football in the blink of an eye.

And he didn’t miss a beat.

Brennan, a former 2017 graduate of Chimacum High School who’s now a college senior studying cloud computing, was one of the members of the University of Washington’s Husky Marching Band who took part in the halftime show during last week’s College Football Playoff CFP National Championship Game.

The matchup between No. 1 Alabama and No. 3 Ohio State was televised on ESPN, and the halftime show featured the Intercollegiate Marching Band performing “End of Time” by Beyonce.

The Intercollegiate Marching Band was made up of nearly 1,500 performers from 200 college marching bands from 45 states and Puerto Rico.

Brennan, who lives on Marrowstone Island, was one of the Husky Marching Band’s seven players nominated to participate. He is the tenor section leader of the UW marching band’s drumline.

“It’s awesome. It’s a huge rush,” he said of the honor.

The halftime show was done virtually and was also the broadcast premiere of the Intercollegiate Marching Band’s YouTube channel.

With the COVID-19 pandemic still raging, the musicians in the halftime show had to record their parts individually, at home.

And at home is where Brennan has been a lot lately, completing his college courses remotely. The Husky Marching Band has not been practicing in person, and Brennan — as the tenor section leader — has had to teach the UW’s rookie drummers via Zoom to get ready for the 2021 season.

Brennan filmed his 2-minute submission for last week’s halftime video in his living room. It’s a place where he’s done a lot of drumming in the past, he said.

He isn’t the first in his family to march in tune for the Purple and Gold, however.

His father, Mitch, played trumpet in the Husky Marching Band, and his sister, Sage, also played trumpet in the band.

Mitch Brennan is still a musician around town; he plays in the Unexpected Brass Band, with Forrest Brennan often joining in, as well.

Brennan is in his fourth year in the UW band, and plays tenor drum, a strap-on setup that features five drums ranging in size from 6-inches wide to 14 inches.

As part of the Husky Marching Band, last week’s national championship game wasn’t his first huge gig.

Brennan played at the 2019 Rose Bowl, in Las Vegas at the Las Vegas Bowl, and the Fiesta Bowl in Arizona.

“The shows that we play depend on how good the football team is,” he said.

He’s also drummed from coast to coast as a member of the Seattle Cascades Drum and Bugle Corps, a competitive outfit that tours in the summer and plays all over the country in college stadiums and NFL arenas.

For that group, Brennan said he travels 10,000 miles across 36 states for two months of shows.

In 2020, Brennan was set for a return local performance of the Husky Drumline in the Rhody Festival, but that was COVID canceled, of course.

Last week’s halftime performance was created from hundreds and hundreds of videos of individual musicians, all for a 2 1/2 minute song arrangement of Beyonce’s uptempo nod to Afrobeat and Nigerian music icon Fela Kuti.

Brennan, 21, said it was an exciting honor to be chosen to play in the combined college band.

“This is definitely a cool thing to be a part of,” he said.

He said he was happy with his small part and how it turned out.

“There’s a lot of kids in the video,” Brennan said. “I’m definitely not front and center because there is so much going on.”

He filmed his piece on a propped-up cellphone in his living room with help from his mom, Karen. 

It took more than one try to get right. But when he makes music videos, that’s always the case, he admitted.

“I did it over and over again,” Brennan said.

“I’m never happy,” he said. “I never do a first take; it’s usually a good couple hours of getting a good two-minute take.”

Brennan’s musical career started in fifth-grade band class. He played the trombone before switching over to drums the next year.

He got his first drum set in the sixth grade.

“I kept playing, not super seriously, until high school,” he recalled.

Brennan also started taking private lessons, and was the third-place finisher in the snare drum category in the state solo high school music competition as a freshman.

“At that moment, that’s when I kind of thought I should start taking this seriously.”

After high school, he auditioned for the Husky Marching Band and made the team. With so many drummers in the band, Brennan said he played cymbals during his first year.

And now, with a drumroll, please — Brennan praised his parents for their nonstop support. His father is a teacher at Chimacum, and his mother is an administrator of Olympic Peninsula HomeConnection, an alternative school with the Crescent School District. They haven’t missed one of their son’s performances in 10 years, including his tours, Husky games, bowl games, jazz gigs with Soundsation, and side gigs.”My parents have been real troopers,” he said. “There’s been lots of times when I have a competition coming up and I have to practice a piece, or I have my setup in the living room. They will sit around and pretend I’m not there ... even when I’m crashing and bashing,” he said.If it’s noisy, his parents certainly haven’t complained.”My dad says honestly it helps him sleep when I play the drums. I’m not sure how much of that is true,” Brennan said with a laugh. The halftime show can be seen on YouTube at