by Paul Bowers
Saturday afternoon, as defenders of the Confederate flag assembled in Columbia to protest the flag's removal from Statehouse grounds, one musician saw an opportunity to use his talent for a higher cause.
That man was Matt Buck, a Columbia resident who studied tuba performance at the University of South Carolina and who just happened to have a sousaphone — essentially a marching tuba — on hand as the flags started flying.
"I didn't really know how to show my opposition, so that was my way of doing it," Buck says.
The Ku Klux Klan had announced the rally earlier in the month as state lawmakers debated whether to remove the battle flag from the north side of the capital building. The day of the rally, some protesters showed up representing other groups including the Detroit-based National Socialist Movement Party, according to Reuters. In the above video, it is unclear what, if any, organizations the flag-bearers represent.
Buck says he had attended a peaceful counterprotest earlier in the day on the north side of the Statehouse grounds, and he happened to be on the south side when he saw people waving the flag as they marched down the street.
"Nobody knew where they were; we just happened to see them," Buck says. "Most of the crowd was at the Statehouse waiting for them, and I saw them coming out of a garage."
When it comes to song selection, Buck says he started out with the tune that the character Stewie plays on Family Guy in an episode where he gets paid to follow obese people around with a tuba — which, incidentally, is similar to the bass line from the Primus song "The Air is Getting Slippery." Then he switched over to Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries," which he says he picked due to its use in the classic Nazi car chase scene from The Blues Brothers.
"A few people had a few things to say, but nobody really confronted me or anything," Buck says. "My goal was to embarrass them, and I think I did a little bit."
Outside of impromptu counterprotests, Buck has played tuba with some bands around Columbia. He recently laid down tracks on a recording by jazz guitarist J'Michael Peeples, and his playing will also be featured on an upcoming solo album by Daniel Machado, the mastermind behind the high-concept roots band The Restoration.
(Video via YouTube user Diana Martin)