Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Want To Know The One Perfomance That Will Stay With Me Forever ...?

Our first show of the year: 1971 Wilmington, Delaware under the lights. It was hosted by Blue Rock and the debut of our "Woodstock" show.
We'd already played our Concert number and during the following drum solo a light rain began.  The Opening strains of Joni Mitchell's "Woodstock" hung in the air and the rain came down harder. Remember, no one had an inkling what was to come.
Lightning struck followed almost instantly by a rolling cascade of thunder that coincided exactly with the Contra Bass section running toward the American Flag section and seemingly attacking them.
And the rain came down in torrents.
The Rifle Section  rushed to the defense of the American Flag.  Thunder and lightning crashed above, the rifle section donned gas masks as our Drum Majors threw the orange smoke bombs onto the field below.  
The smoke billowed and the rain poured.
The snares snapped repetitive sounds of 'gun fire' and, as the Mellophones began the wail of sirens, the entire corps began running in every direction.
The startled crowd ran out of the stands onto the track and at the last instant realized this was all (except for the thunder and rain) part of our Presentation Piece as we all stopped in the driving rain positioning for the Exit Number: The "West Point" Reprise.
And the rain came down.
The Contra were marched down the sideline behind the now secure American Flag section as we stood stock still for almost half a minute until the Drum Major's order of "Mark Time, March"
And the rain, as if on cue, suddenly stopped.
And the crowd went crazy.
We played the last 2 minutes of our show turned and blew the triple-tongue filled finale drenched and out of our minds with how we executed that first show with so much control knowing we had performed something that no one anywhere had ever seen.
We placed 2nd that night.
The Garfield Cadets placed 1st.
There were, no doubt, 'breaking ranks' and 'illegal equipment' and 'dropped equipment' penalties.
But to hell with that.
That night, that rain, those few minutes were nothing less than a great Steven Spielberg moment.  BTW: "We" were St. Rita's Brassmen.
We wore black vulture feather plumes that literally destroyed our uniforms that night.
Because we had gone from being that poor, little St. Joseph Patron Cadets two years before - and even then, we were still pretty damned good - but our new parish and financial model not to mention our approach to the competitive show had changed so drastically from our beginning as The Brassmen in 1969 (who Wes Hobby always announced as "The Cinderella Corps From Brooklyn New York) to 1971 we were able to have new uniforms available very quickly.
Our 1971 show in my mind, pretty much changed everything about Drum Corps.
That, my friends is what makes that show (not the winning - we were never going to get the judges to love us because they hated our staff and we were never going to be a DCI Drum and Bugle Corps because our staff didn't believe in THAT idea) so memorable and important to me.
I aged out after the '72 season and didn't pick up a horn again until about a year and a half ago.
I play now with the St. Rita's Brassmen Alumni Corps and hope to be elected as their new Marketing Director and Writer / Editor of our monthly publication as yet un-named.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The night I met Hy

I remember quite vividly the day I met both Hy and Carmen. Friday night at St. Joseph Patron Cadets' rehearsal hall ( a gym, really) I'd decided to try to join because I'd seen them the season before and didn't want to continue to place 16th in competitions that only fielded 12 corps - if you know what i mean. So I walk in and was was instantly struck by the comportment of the young folks. I went to a table on the side and asked one of the guys there who it was I had to speak to about joining. His name was Joe Luginsland and the first thing he asked me what I played so I told him French Horn and the second thing he said was "Oh, boy! Hy's gonna love you!" I didn't know anything so I just kinda grinned.
He grabbed me by the arm and yanked me over to this huge guy and introduced me. So you play French Horn, eh?
How long? I told him a couple of seasons and that I went to Music & Art High School and played Horn in "F" too. "Got a good ear?" Pretty good, I told him and added I can sing, too - I didn't know what I was saying, really. So he walks over to where they had the chairs set up in an arc, grabs a horn and hands it to me. Play the scale. I did and he cocks his head and says: "Now play it like you mean it." So I play like this languid long tone scale and he grabs the horn out of my hand and points the bell in my face and blows a scale so loud my ears flap back against my head then - now you have to understand that I'm 5' 8" 125 pounds - hands me the horn and says quietly (though I couldn't be sure because I may have been deaf) "Play it like you mean it." He wasn't being mean or anything and I could see that so I puffed up as big as I could not noticing that now there was a crowd around us like the whole horn section (all 24 of them - the best horn line I'd ever heard not on a Fleetwood recording although that would change pretty darn quick) and I blew a very fast quarter note scale louder than I'd ever played in my life - up to then, mind you. And this angelic like smile spread across his face and he said: "Well, if you can march and do that, I think we can get you in. Let's go talk to Carmen."
And that's another story.

Monday, November 9, 2009

What one song says "Drum Corps" to you?

Wow. This is rather difficult for me but here's my little take: Community based corps are pretty much gone. DCI is here to stay.
That means there will never, ever again be the kind of individuality we found in the corps from the mid sixties to early seventies.
Has the difficulty of the music increased? I don't really know was Boston's Unsquare Dance in 1969 any more difficult than the Troopers version in 2007? Or any one corps who have played their version of Malaguena during the past 3 decades?
Is Promanade from Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition we played in the late sixties any more difficult than Daphnis and Chloé by Maurice Ravel?
Maybe not. But if you look at the repertoires from back in the day, you will see songs of the times - songs that the crowds could easily recognize. Aquarius (anything from Hair for that matter), Big Spender, Hang 'Em High, Eleanore Rigby and hundreds more.
Now don't get me wrong, I loved the music like The Firebird Suite by Igor Stravinsky, Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto Number 1, Gershwin's Concerto In F (which was also played BITD, BTW) and all the long chord music being played - they are very pleasing to the ear and I know difficult when played by an orchestra - The current drum corps charts are designed to accommodate very, very intricate drill patterns (is it true that they have spots marked in paint on the field - I read that somewhere once ... hmmm)
But I'm going off topic, so back to the songs:
Someone once wrote: "To me, no other song says Drum Corps like Battle Hymn of the Republic!"
I couldn't agree more but as someone else said - it probably hasn't been performed since DCI chopped anything patriotic from the current shows.
I think the guy who wrote the above in quotes got it right, though - only the wrong song.
If you go by who has played what and how many times - and this is just a quick tabulation from my own CD and mp3 files - Malaguena has been performed often (by about 30 different corps and by my count on average 3 or 4 times each by every corps that ever played it once.) For instance I've got 7 different recordings from 7 different years of Madison. The Muchachos a few times, same with Velvet Knights, Blue Devils, North Star and others. The Cabs on the senior side have the record for 12 times in 12 different years over a full decade.
Even Internationally there are many corps who (nice catch on the Yokohama show, BTW) have played it multiple times over multiple years.
I've got the Cambridge Caballeros from 1960 on wax - they played it 3 years in a row.
Great rule of thumb - if the corps has any kind of Spanish sounding name = they probably played it.
What I'm getting at here is that not that it's a bad tune - some versions have been down right fantastic -others, not so.
But - And I'm going out on a limb here - what do you think every time you hear for example:
Pop Muzick by M
Oops...I Did It Again by Britney
Who Let the Dogs Out by BaHa Men
I know what you think: OMG! Not Again.
Just because you hear something often doesn't make it great. For some corps it's a good fit but you won't hear versions by SCV, Phantom, the Troopers or Star - just off the top of my head.
But here's why my choice of Leonard Berstein's Maria doesn't fall into the same category:
Nobody - I marched in the absolute worst corps ever in 1963 (St. Catherine of Sienna Queenaires) we were booed at every show until we played Maria as our exit. (yes, the irony isn't lost on me!) - has ever managed to mangle that tune and of the over 100 different corps who played it from 1952 to 2008 they always found a fresh twist on it. As part of a medley, as a concert piece, production number - solo, duet, trios or section and yes as a hankie grabbing exit.
To me, I hear Maria and Drum Corps comes to mind.
Sappy, no doubt. But you will know how good your horn line and your arranger is.
Anyway, yeah it's different today, but don't disregard the that we worked throughout the fall winter and spring to put a full 12 minute show on the field in early April. We had to be musically prepared for shows like Evening With the Corps in March.
And yes, we walked to school in the driving snow uphill, both ways.
There ya go.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

How Marching In The Brassmen Has Affected Me

This is one of those philosophical questions that perhaps you have to reach a certain age to answer.
Having reached that age - never won a world championship, the World or U.S. Open; having marched 2nd, 3rd or 4th near the top (except during the era of Circuit Shows which we did win 2 years in a row!)
Having heard some say that had we hung around we would have been a DCI contender, having played some of the hardest most beautiful charts by the baddest-a**ed music arranger of our time in perhaps the smallest horn line ever, who not only made people stand up but hold on to their hats ... but that's only the surface stuff.
Drum Corp in my era (and this will be very difficult for most to understand who didn't grow up with an ATM on the corner or a cell phone on their waist) was meeting people who were different than you.
In New York City in the mid sixties (which if you ask your parents will tell you something very different than I will tell you now - because THEY WEREN"T THERE - they only saw what they wanted to see on TV) there were just about 200 to 300 hundred drum corps to choose from in a 5 borough, 3 state area all available by public transportation and you could get from the Bronx (that's a place in NYC) to march with a corps in Newark New Jersey in a couple of hours.
No, there were no Mini Vans taking us back and forth at that time.
Walking into a Friday night rehearsal at St. Rita's on a Friday night you would see about 100 kids of every ethnicity and race and even nationality; every socio-economic, educational, shade, size, and or ability to express themselves was in attendance. Oh, there were no college grads. The age range was 11 to 17 in 1969 at St. Rita's Brassmen.
Diversity was the first thing to seep into your pores. It lives with you and makes you available to understanding there is a person who no matter what they look like or how old or young they are they just might know something you don't.
Confidence seemed to bubble up from somewhere you never expected it to.
Because of playing in front of thousands when I was 14, a shy skinny kid like me was able to turn that into speaking to a hall full of prospective clients - to sell an idea I developed worth millions to an organization who didn't at the beginning of the day want to even think about signing a check.
Those are the two biggies for me because BITD we as children were not given confidence the way children and students are and have been in the eighties and nineties. vis a vis "we were allowed to fail!" We were not hand held through every single activity in our lives, we learned through actual experiences - we rode bicycles without out helmets, knee and elbow pads, (you know what I'm talking about, here!)we had to actually read books, we had dinner at home and actually spoke to our parents about stuff that went on during our days.
Working 3 times a week every week of the year to put a show on the field allowed an 11 year old to to walk in the door in September and step off the line in April for his or her first show - apparently there was no A.D.D. back then.  And then, BTW "hey kid.  You're about to learn how to play a little something from the beginning of the third act of a Richard Wagner opera called Die Walküre it's called Ritt der Walküren or  The Ride of the Valkyries.  You've probably heard Bugs Bunny sing it ... but not like this:

The intrinsic value I learned is immeasurable: I had a stroke in early February this year. I have since then received hundreds of well wishes from alum - some of whom I haven't heard from or seen in nearly 35 years or more!
And lastly on a personal note: Father Dominic Schiraldi and Carmen (not to mention Hy and Eric) were some of the the most well spoken and intelligent people I ever had the pleasure to meet.
They were firm but understanding of your limits; they wanted the best you could give and would only ask for more when they knew you could give it (and they somehow knew!) Never, ever did they talk down to us - we were all equals when given instruction - that is so awesome when you finally realize it is being given to you that way.

It (How marching in a corps has affected me) is how I have payed it forward during my adult life.
Share all you know and know when to share it.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Remaining Objective In My Old Age

Recently a good friend and marching buddy of mine came into a bit of a discourse.
We both grew up under the direction of Carmen Cluna. I will say unabashedly that having him "direct" a major part of my teenage years, was indicative of how I was to think about problem solving and how also to think on both sides of every issue. His ability to be honest to us and honest to himself was a very, very good role to follow. This is why although I have so many personal stories about Carmen
(let me put it this way - I was kicked out by Carmen for a various different reasons a number of 8 times in 7 years.)
But he instigated in me a gene of independence that allowed me to grow as a human and excel as a person who can do more. Hy did that, too but he never threw it in your face. So - when an old friend came down on me about what DCI is doing now I responded with this:
You missed my point.
Sorry but I was talking about how much I hate synthesizers.
The examples I used were what I used to feel when I saw shows without all the stuff you pretty much hate.
I personally think the last great junior corps was Star Of Indiana 1993. I don't care about Bb horns or the pit.
Didn't you realize that Drum Corps just like the size and power of our micro processors was going to change over the course of 35 years?
No, I do not like what DCI is doing!
No, I do not like that there are so few inner city Drum Corps playing on the National Level.
No, I don't like that those who do march have to pay dues give up thousands of dollars a summer to sleep on Gym floors and eat from second class food trucks.
No, I don't like that these same young people suffer bad knees, bad feet, bad legs, shoulders and backs long before their time because of a system that does not care about them.
It's bad. Really bad. I have spent my time as a part time lobby guy for Drum Corps and the people who march in them. I have written passionate letters to The past 3 Presidents and the Education Advisers with many State Senators, Governors and Mayors and City Councilmen as co-signers. I was getting somewhere early last year when the economy tanked.
You know how much instruments and teachers and staff and Real Estate, buses, and uniforms cost? Start up for a new Drum Corps - a small one who could possibly reach National Status in a few years is well over $400,000.00!
Then there's recruitment and attrition and encouraging our youngsters to be people who don't want to kill each other or to look for their next 'ho, or how to steal instead of work, or having them have parents who care (like ours, remember?)
That's what it is - we have to change the world. Change our world. I tried it with my son. It worked. He sings, he plays jazz on the weekends and he teaches. Literally one in a million. He's 38 today and it took him a long time to find his way. My daughter will be 18 next month. She runs world class track, plays soccer and is going to Rhode Island School Of Design next year to study fashion design. I have taken her to shows and she once expressed that she could "do that" after seeing 'Star's final season.
My point is this: Even if we change the world, get the funding, knock off the despicable things the current music, entertainment, media and educational systems are doing (not to mention iPhones, iPods, Computer games and all the distracting electronic outlets available, their world will not be what our world was. And Drum Corps as we knew it will never return. It can't.
Quite honestly, I wouldn't want my world to return to 1972.
Hell, if this was 1972 I would not be able to publish this blog or 'talk' to my old friends on Face Book or through emails.
I'm 60 years old and have seen recently my body turn against me for the first time.
I am going to continue to embrace change, progress and continue to compete and beat those uppity youngsters who think they can out think me just because they had gadgets. But in my business technology always takes second place to the idea.
Think about it - even Carmen and Hy and Eric knew it was the idea first then kick the stones out of the execution.
I can hate what's going on with how Drum Corps is run by the DCI but I will always stand with the young people who do it.
And I can wait for the time when I see a show and say to myself: ####, I wish Carmen had thought of that."
Because if he thought he could get away with it at the time; the different tempos, backwards marching ... any of it. We would have done it - and liked it - and we would have kicked it, too. You know that's word.
Those who know, know. Those who don't, won't understand what Carmen and Hy gave to us. For me, Carmen could be a task master, he could be a person you as a teenager could "fear" but only if you feared success. I was a little kid but I speak in a larger voice than my mere stature because Carmen gave me a voice and because when I was on the field he trusted me. More importantly he trusted all of us. We would do what he directed us to and as I said to my good old friend above, we would have executed any idea he came up with - and we did.
We ran first, we spun flags first, we had the among the first tympani line, we used props, smoke bombs, and knife fights. Oh my, would we have followed him/them into the pit of DCI - heh, ask anyone of the time: 1972 we would have placed in the finals! For sure.
We never had a big win - but we competed and ask those we competed against; we were always "right there."
Our short time was made important in the history of junior Drum Corps by the men who were to become legend and who helped me become the man I am.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Old Days vs Modern Drum Corps

So, every once in a while there’s a discussion on one of the Drum Corps Planet Forums I’ve taken to participate in. I ran into a heated discussion titled: The Old Days vs Modern Drum Corps and was forced to add my two cents:
For the record there is no "old days versus Modern Drum Corps" anything. That’s like those people who have a Tyson versus Ali thing going on. For the sake of delineation though, “in the old days” everybody marched (there were kids as young as 11 and as old as 21!) now members are between 19 and 22 (or if they can prove they're still in college!) we had fat kids, we had skinny kids but mostly we had kids! “In the old days” there were very few marching members who could read music; these days you cannot march if you don't.
Now don't get me wrong - I loved my era, I couldn't understand the era previous to mine but I can understand and accept where DC has gone since I put down my Mellophone and apparently picked up a cane.
But let's be very clear: Speed be damned - backward, crab walk, guard or no guard dancing boys in tights or girls who look like overly made up Rockettes, the death of the Cadet style uniform, the pit, the microphones, the talking, the field littered with equipment, the lack of uniformity, the idea that every drummer has to now carry at least 5 or more drums on his body but refuses to think in terms that 4 guys can play a timpani part as one (try it - you can't do it and march a drill at the same time! Why? because you never tried!) Oh yeah; do a 12 minute show! Oh yeah; carry, spin and toss an 8 foot aluminum pike with a nylon flag that weighs 15 pounds for 12 minutes! Oh yeah; carry, spin and toss a rifle that weighs 8 to 10 pounds for a whole show. What is different from today versus yesterday is mostly what we won't allow.
If you're too poor, you can't belong. If you're too fat, sorry. If you're young, no way. No papers?! No marching. Oh, that's right - no marching anyway. There's that weird no leg lift thing that separates the generations of Drum Corps of today versus yesterday - the (no matter how much more athletic we are, let's not try to do anything too strenuous like actually lift our feet past our ankles) which I guess gives us more energy to walk around at increased speeds while ignoring the idea that the bell of your horn is designed to actually spread the sound in an almost 200 degree arc (yes, you don't have to lean back to reach the top stands - in fact you are losing those who are sitting in the bottom rows!) but that's OK - instead of 40 or so horns you now have 80. Instead of a 4 or 6 snares you now have 12. Instead of a similar contingent of tenors you now have 8 who are carrying 4 to 5 drums each.
The difference between then and now - I've read this entire thread and only a couple of people get it. Elphaba most notably. The real comparisons have been left out because most don't see them. IMO there is no comparison between the two. I was glad at 13 years old to march in a Class A Drum Corps that was different than that of the fifties but I am aware that if I were 13 today I wouldn't be allowed to march in what is now called World Class organization. Not because I didn't have the talent but because I wouldn't have the money and more sadly because I would be too young. And that, my friends is the biggest difference: The youth activity I embraced and gave me so much is no longer populated by youngsters but by adults.
There. I've said it. Not discounting what Drum Corps has become, but observing what it no longer was in my estimation designed to be.
Needless to say there was an instant response
Hey Puppet,
Pleased to meet you here. You make some eloquent points. I have been troubled greatly by the grave expense of marching in drum corps these days.
A note on drum corps fees:
I aged out in 98 and paid $875 for the year. This is surly a price that may ruffle your tail feathers, I'm sure. It really didn't seem all that unreasonable at the time. However in just 10 years kids are now paying up to and including $2000. When you factor in what kids get for this price, they really get their money's worth. But it still excludes kids who aren't in some way privileged. I know that there are people I marched with that wouldn't be able to march these days. It's sad. Just ten years ago I marched with kids from "the hood" and others destined to literally become rocket scientists. What an odd and beautiful mixture that could be had in this activity. I hate to see this become an ivy league activity just based on price.
Puppet, I may be reading your post wrong, but I get the impression when you say the following:
“Speed be damned side wise, crab walk, guard or no guard dancing boys in tights or girls who look like overly made up Rock-Ettes, the death of the Cadet style uniform, the pit, the microphones, the talking, the field littered with equipment, the lack of uniformity, the idea that every drummer has to now carry at least 5 or more drums on his body but refuses to think in terms that 4 guys can play a timpani part as one (try it - you can't do it and march a drill at the same time! why? because you never tried!) Oh yeah; do a 12 minute show! Oh yeah; carry, spin and toss a 9 foot pike with a nylon flag that weighs 15 pounds for 12 minutes! Oh yeah; carry, spin and toss a rifle that weighs 8 to 10 pounds for a whole show. What is different from today versus yesterday is mostly what we won't allow.”
You are suggesting there may possibly be a lower level of endurance required to perform a modern drum corps show because they are shorter, the instrumentation is a tad different, color guard equipment is lighter, and so on. If this is the point that is indeed being made, I must humbly disagree. One of the many reasons the average age of the A Corps drum corps member has increased, and adolescents of larger carriage are less common, is the intense physical demand of modern pageantry. The equipment may not be as bulky as a timpani, but what a young member is expected to run a marathon forward, sideways, and backward with the equipment they have. The modern mellophone player spends less time at a high mark time and more time moving at high velocity in, through, and around others with very little park and blow. (Again, no disrespect)
A note on age in drum corps:
A 13 year old has a place in drum corps. Alas I began summer marching programs when I was 12. I was not prepared for the big boys until much later. Here's a thought: Today's western society is a "give me everything NOW" society built on instant gratification, hedonism, and easy gains. The fact that a 13 year old must spend years perfecting an art, practicing independently, marching lower corps, getting individual instruction, trying, failing, trying again, failing again, and finally succeeding, is a beautiful thing. The level of drum corps today begs this generation to work diligently, set goals, follow through, be organized, and become team players when many other messages in their lives tell them to be impulsive, expect something for nothing, and don't bother with activities that don't instantly make you rich. The activity, in the way it exists today, serves a very unique purpose for our youth. They must compete with themselves to become more competent before even being considered for a World Class spot.
My response:
Let me reply in as a succinct manner as possible. There is an "Ivy league" mentality prevalent in the current Drum Corps activity today. Those who participate don't see it as they eat their peanut butter sandwiches and drink their bottled waters, but it is there. It's very much like a club atmosphere - you buy in, you get in and you get to pretend that for a couple of months during the course of a year that you're a poor little rich kid sleeping on air mattresses provided by whomever, etc. I don't (and will never!) deride those who are participants these days.
Keep that in mind when I say this and pose this important question: Why is there no room for young people in a youth activity? And this: If goals are to be set, why should they come at such a high price?
Or personally: When I was accepted to Music And Art High School at the age of 12, do you not think that came with years of perfecting, practicing and learning the art I was trying to participate in - do you not think that a 12 year old BITD who could learn an instrument and a drill and who, over the course of just months involve themselves totally in an activity that gave them much to learn and take away much more (in terms of self respect, selflessness and a true team spirit) without an incredible outlay of thousands of dollars - was that not indeed unique?
And how about this: Am I just looking at the past having lived it through a pair of rose colored glasses knowing that my life was made more rich by being in an organization that showed me and my compatriots from the inner city of New York parts of the country we would perhaps otherwise not see during a time (the mid and late sixties which you may have heard about when young Black people were more or less looked upon as second class citizens) when except for very few corps were either all white or all black - when indeed there were hundreds of Drum Corps to choose from and that at any time someone like myself could find themselves marching in competition at its highest level and then go on to fly a B52 in the World's greatest Air Force only to return to find people who would spit on me for doing that so they could get the instant gratification that was so prevalent during the decades after my return to what those of us who were there called "the world"?
Yeah, I know my teachers would rail at that last run-on sentence, but at least I know that it is.
Do not for one single minute tell me there is only room for people approaching adult hood in the upper strata of Drum Corps. To me that is like saying only twenty something’s should be in the Olympics! They have the stamina, the smarts and if given the chance all the ability. Open the door - open your mind.
And take this with you: Even BITD the Cinderella Corps From Brooklyn New York never allowed it's members to sleep in anything less than a Motel while on tour. Get back to me next time you spend the night in the Marco Polo Hotel on Collins Avenue in Miami Beach. We did that - we ate in restaurants not out of the back of trucks. Our only monetary outlay was the food we ate while on tour.
Now and then? It’s an easy choice for me. Being a part of something year round; working and practicing every week two and three times a week made us strong and joined us like no couple of weekends of "camp" can do.
Again, not knocking modern - but you haven't marched in real bucks.
Oh, one last thing: If we were asked to do the kind of shows that happen now, we could have done it – we would have done it – and easily because we would have had all fall, winter and spring to perfect it. We were BTW the Corps who invented the "run on the field, knife fight, damsel in distress, smoke bomb" show.
Thanks for reading and come back soon.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Was 1971 The Best Or What?!

Up front this is neither bashing DCI, DCA or any organization that currently causes my inbox to be filled with literally hundred of pre-season requests for money to enable youngsters to participate in what was once to me a source of pleasure, learning and personal growth. All things being equal, (which they are not!) I don't think the amount of time and energy put into today's product is equal to the sheer verve which the corps of my era displayed. The forced pageantry and beauty queen smiles of the now so called guards do not win me over. The short, seemingly one dimensional shows don't cause me to cheer. Yes, the musicality is better - all the players are now pros. Their instruments are probably better made. And yes, Jimmy drum corps today is what it is today - change is good, change is change. As a writer, I wouldn't trade in my MAC and go back to an IBM Selectric typewriter, ever. But I am respectful of the past and would like to think that my memories of what once was - the fleeting months of competition, the agonizing winters of rehearsals, the summers like 1971 or even 1965, the togetherness - that's all good stuff to me. Drum Corps didn't die in 1971 and again yes, something else was born. 30 years from now, perhaps those of you who weren't able to participate in an activity that brought together kids from all walks of life and different economic strata for free (that means no dues, no fees, no paying for your own uniform or instrument etc.) will see how folks like me hold those times so dear.
But the fact that so many corps have simply gone away still hurts
What I remember most though are those great shows like the Danny Thomas Invitational, World Open and CYO Nationals, U.S. Open and the like. that's when you would find a mixture of corps like these with scores like this - competition was fierce.
Sunday July 18, 1971
Lawrence MA Danny Thomas Invitational
1 27th Lancers 84.450
2 Santa Clara Vanguard 84.100
3 Troopers 82.300
4 Cavaliers 81.000
5 St. Rita's Brassmen 80.950
6 Boston Crusaders 80.300
7 Madison Scouts 78.300
8 Blue Stars 77.850
9 De LaSalle Oaklands 73.800
10 Blessed Sacrament 70.450
11 Argonne Rebels 69.900
12 Spectacle City Mariners 52.350
And for the record, here's how we closed our show after using all the energy we could for just about 9 and a half minutes and then running - yes, running to our exit set up ...
West Point Alma Mater Reprise


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Old school work ethic, new school adventure. Keeping up with no one and making sure I'm ahead of the pack.