one mans view of the Drum and Bugle Corp activity

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

2007 East Coast Swing

I got my first taste of live Drum Corp today at Nashua NH. ... Sweet...
Stopped by Phantom Regiment rehearsal this afternoon and folks, PR is alive and well in 07. The show called Airey soars with a subtle cool Phillip Glass opener, a beautiful mellophone duet in the middle, and bombastic Stravinsky Firebird finish. The show I saw at rehearsal blew me away but the performance at the stadium this evening …well…let me just say if you have the fortune to see Phantom Regiment this summer you are in for a treat. They have picked up where they left off in Madison last August

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

2006 Cool Moments

I’ve always felt Drum Corp is about creating moments that fans will remember, and while they are not the full story they at times are reminisced on like great plays in sports.
There are also the “very cool” moments that this fan takes away from the shows I see.
10 of my very cool Drum Corp moments for 2006 are as follows

Phantom Regiment extended chord at the end of Ave Maria. Gave me chills!!

The Cavalier trumpets getting stuck in a 2 note loop with their horns going back and forth till a guard member whacks them back into the show. Outrageous!!!

Bluecoats “corp wide” breathing between songs. Very cool. Great show

Carolina Crowns company front moving across the field dropping members off along the way with the guard dispersed and spinning those great flags. Great visual.

Blue Devils crucifix moving across the field to the Godfather main theme.

Blues Devils drum line anytime they are on the field.

Santa Clara Vanguard “Mr. Moto” and his exit with the cymbal line

Glassmen “Beethoven goes deaf” with the pit whistle and the great guard toss.

Boston Crusaders “Conquest” theme hidden in the music throughout the end of the show and at the end of the great drum solo.

Cadets bass drum feature while standing on the platform. Very Cool !!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Rise of the Machine

Back in 1967, the then Chicago Cavaliers won the VFW National Drum Corp championship at Fenway Park in Boston. The word in the stands was that they were the “Green Machine”, performing their routine like a fine tuned piece of equipment.
The 2006 incarnation of the Cavies brought the Machine analogy to a new level at Lawrence Mass Wednesday evening August 3rd bringing to the field multiple pieces of humanoid equipment that flow, fly, break apart, bend, and snap back together. Percussion, horns and machine-like metal sounds punctuate the sometime sporadic, sometime precision movements of the corps for a visual experience that breaks new ground. The soundtrack is not one that drum corps purists will be throwing on the turntable any time soon, not much to tap your foot to here. But melded with the visuals and execution of the performers, the show works. The Blue Devils will have their hands full trying to outperform the Cavaliers again the year.
The 2003 Cavaliers Frameworks production took drum corps to a new visual level as show designers smoked the processors of their Pyeware computers designing shows once not possible with charts, paper, and pencil. But for better or worse we are in the cyber age, and drum corp has embraced the technology and challenged the performers. Corps have risen to the Cavaliers initiative with some success as witnessed by the Cadets 2005 “Zone” winning show, and the overall “overdrive” movement now seen on the field.
Visual sophistication will continue to evolve and I’m sure we will be treated to more visual wonders but I will still be yearning for those classic drum corp moments. I will see a block slowly coming together, parking in place and treating me to the luscious stacked chords that raises the hair on my neck and reminds me “this is why I come to drum corp” .

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

San Antonio via the web

OK –I got to see most all the 2006 shows via Season Pass this past weekend and here are my impressions.
At the San Antonio afternoon session Division 1 corps ranked 9 thru 22 provided a great afternoon of drum corp with the top four scores earning a spot at the evening show.
The Madison Scouts stole the afternoon session with a riveting performance of there Primal Forces show. This show is fast, loud and appealing with a beautiful version of Ennio Morricone’s “Gabriel’s Oboe” in the middle..
Madison finished second to The Blue Knights 2006 edgy and avant garde production titled Dark Knights.
The evening session proved that Drum Corp is in great shape in 2006. All 12 corps have extremely entertaining shows with a lot of parity in the middle.
Positions 6 thru 10 are a virtual toss up between Crown, SCV, Boston, Madison and the Blue Knights. I give Crown the edge at this point but all the corps are so good that on any given night one could beat the other. Blue Coats and Phantom will battle it out for third this year , both fielding elite corps and having extremely appealing shows. But lets face it, we all came to see the Cavaliers vs the Blue Devils. The 2006 Caviliers are as good as ever and maybe better. They are a machine and perform “Machine” in which every moving parts fits and sounds close to perfect. Quite simply it is music and movement that will awe and please you. When the show ended I wondered how the Blue Devils could top this but they did not disappoint.
The Godfather, Part Blue will go down as one of the great Blue Devils drum shows ever. Wayne Downey has pinned Nino Rotas familiar and haunting movie music to transpose great on the field. The show has drama and builds with the integration of stunning visuals and percussion. The corp is in top notch shape and delivers form beginning to end. When all was said in done
The Cavaliers took the evening by .55 with one GE judge giving them a .7 point edge over BD. But this far from over with the Cavaliers being the real "Green Machine" and the Blue Devils making us a “deal we can’t refuse”.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Mid Season Fix

With Drum Corps into the mid-America swing there are alternative ways to get your Drum Corp fix. Browsing to Google Video http://video.google.com/ and typing DCI into the search box returns a potpourri of Drum Corp shows and drum line parking lot videos. The selection and quality of the video posted online is pretty decent. YouTube.com also has available videos. For some great drum line, individual drum solo, and parking lot clips visit http://shotdrum.com The Blue Devils and Cadets web sites both post professionally produced online video magazines as well as DCI in the Season Pass area of the DCI web site. DCI and Cadets charge for full access to posted videos while occasionally providing some free content. The Blue Devils offer a video magazine called BlueView at no cost featuring insights, commentaries, flash backs of past performances. The production quality of the Cadets and Blue Devils online videos are excellent

Monday, July 10, 2006

Coming into the first bend

Coming into the first bend of the 2006 DCI Season Blue Devils and Cavaliers seem to have the lead. Following their train ride across the country the Blue Devils got a chance to perform their much anticipated “Godfather Part Blue” show to the rest of the country.
The judges were impressed awarding BD victories over the Cavaliers and the Cadets this past weekend.
Phantom Regiment percussion continues to take top scores which helped Phantom edge the Cadets at their home show in Rockford Il on Sunday evening. When is the last time Phantom beat the Cadets??
Blue Stars have seemed to have made the transition to Division I quite nicely with an impressive showing in Indianapolis this past weekend.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Spartans vs East Coast Jazz

Got a chance to see DCI East Divisions II powerhouses Spartans and East Coast Jazz in Springfield MA Saturday evening July 8.
Both corps are back and better them ever.
Spartans went on first and their show was moving and never let up till the end.
I like the musicical selections better than I have in years and the musical dynamics were great, moving from soft to middle to loud. As usual the colorguard was superb. This corp may be better than they ever have been and perform a division 1 like show as well as looking great on the field.
After the Spartans stirring performance East Coast Jazz took the field and did not disappoint. Their horn line is great and delivered a show that was full of energy and featured jazzy solos that fits their name. The drum line is stronger than last year and the drum show is excellently written. Though the visual execution was not as sharp as Spartans the music performance was more challenging and slightly better performed. Both these corps will be there in Madison when all is said and done.


I downloaded a slew of APD’s this week from DCI.org and I am getting to hear and know the music shows before finals. Initial reactions are as follows:
Bluecoats sound GREAT and I love the show. Last years Blue gave us "Caravan" which in my opinion was the most underrated show of the year and this years corp seems to be right on track.
Cavaliers this year sound like more of the same though they are a corp you need to see to appreciate.
The Madison Scouts show rocks musically and I can’t wait to see them. Old fashion in-your- face Drum Corp.
My most anticipated download was the Blue Devils “Godfather Part Blue”. Though I liked it I was not quite blown away musically though again the full package is missing.

Allentown July 1

Allentown is the Fenway Park of drum corp.
The field is great and the stands on the hill act like a big speaker.
The park across from the field is one of the best spots to watch corps warm up.
If you have never been to a show at Allentown make plans to attend one.
The July 1st YEA show at Allentown was basically a repeat of the night before at Westminister MD but what a difference a day makes.
Division 1 drum corp is designed to be seen in a stadium and J Birney Crumb Stadium is the perfect venue. Example 1 The Boston Crusaders. Watching the Crusaders Saturday night was like seeing the corp for the first time, when in fact I had seen the corp 24 hours earlier. The sound visuals and props were great drum corp and the execution was superb.Apparently I wasn’t the only one to think so as Boston edged out Carolina Crown to take 3rd Place on this evening.

Westminister MD Show

First off the field was pretty rough with ruts and holes but the evening was warm and pleasant. The Westminister MD area seems to have a good high school band following and the stands were packed.
Refreshment stand was selling a great pit beef sandwich which sold out fast. Order more beef next year.
Jersey Surf the sole Div 2 corp led off the evening . Surf fields a good size corp this year and as always an entertaining show. Horns have good volume and drum line moves well and sound sharp. Show should develop in time and has nice moments with an Elton John ballard and a fun “Can Can” finish. Kick those dresses up ladies.

Magic took the field to present "IMAGINE...Joy, Love, Peace, Hope”. The show opens with familiar Bach melody and moves to a nice John Lennon Imagine rendition. The crop is small but works hard and the show is developing. Magic pit sounds great.

Spirit if JSU was next up and continue where they left off last year. This corp has arrived and fields a great horn and percussion lines. The college Drum Corp formula works and I would love to see more of new corps go this route. The show titled “Old, New, Borrowed, and Blue.” Opens with and closes with a great jazzy rendition of Old Man River and moves into “That Old Black Magic.” and a very nice ballard with pretty textured moments.

A staff member of the Crossman told me this is the “Bones is back tour”. The corp is out to erase last years disappointments and regain its spot in the top 12 of drum corp. The new attitude could be felt an the stands and the corp was received well as they took the field. After what felt like a slow opening the show catches fire with what might the most fun segment in drum corp this season. Bones spins the radio dial for us and takes us for a great ride. The use of amplification is great and the show ends strong. Crossman deliver a fun show I am looking forward to seeing again.

Carolina Crown and Boston Crusaders will probably battle it out again this year for the best of the middle. Boston was on first and has a show you will need to see a few times. The music is unfamiliar but sharp and uses props which I could not quite figure out and did not work well on the rough field. The BAC traditional “Conquest” theme appears again this year but is not what you are expecting. This corp is good but the show left me a bit confused.
Crown again has a great horn sound and more challenging visual show and came across great this evening. The music is more abstract than the past few years but sounded great and I am looking forward to seeing this show again. On this evening I give the edge to Crown.

Phantom Regiment is a welcome early visitor to the east this year and their show was highly anticipated following last years fantastic “Gershwin” production. The show titled Faust did not disappoint. Phantom again has a “GREAT” horn line and the stacked chords and textured sound of this corp is a wonderful thing to hear. The percussion line and pit is super and will be on of the top drum lines this year. I was a little nervous of the Faust theme being dark but not to worry as the ballard will blow you away. The trumpets exchange their horns for mellophones at one point and the symphonic sound produced is breathtaking. Phantom is again not to be missed this year.

Cadets finished the evening and delivered the best show of the evening. The Zone part II is engaging though not quote as edgy as last years production. The use of props are very cool and the percussion feature comes early and is very cool particularly a really neat snare moment. The Cadets take amplification to a new level with integration of the song voice into their show which works very well. Unlike last years show which took time to develop and be appreciated this years show pleases already and is not to be missed. The corp performs great and seems in mid-season form.

Early View from the East

Took a trip to Maryland last week to catch our first shows of he season,
First stop Camden Yards in Baltimore to catch the O’s vs Phillies.
Great ballpark, great barbeque, so so baseball.
Westminster MD site of the show, your typical High School field venue.
Pre show watched Crossmen warm up, definitely felt the corp has a rejuvenated attitude.
Battery looked and sounded sharp in the lot, young line that seems to have a great attitude. Bones cymbals were working hard they are one of the best cymbal ensembles in Drum Corp.