Interlude is a new section of dedicated to periodically telling the longer, more in-depth stories of the drum corps experience. If you have a longer drum corps essay that perhaps metaphorically relates to larger life, this is the place for it (writers seeking an online clip, here's your chance). Send your completed essays, along with a brief bio and even a picture (and your own e-mail address, if you so choose), to with the subject line "Interlude." We look forward to hearing from you! By Tony Connell The year was 1982. The place was Alton, Ill. It was a night unlike most other nights. It was extremely humid, in fact the air was so thick that a fog had engulfed the press box. Sweat was dripping from everyone on the field even before a note was played or one move was made. Ambulances were waiting for those who suffered from heat exhaustion, but miraculously they were only needed once or twice, and that was for people who tripped over a hole in the field and sprained their ankles. The fans that night were extremely rabid. I think they were ready to applaud an exhale. Even the corps in direct competition with the hometown favorite, the Phantom Regiment, received a rousing thank-you for their efforts. We had just finished our show and were about to troop the stands when I received a tap on the shoulder from Doc Santo, our corps director. He said I had a telephone call and needed to come with him right away. Puzzled, I followed him to where I could receive the telephone call. The conversation on the telephone was with my aunt. She was calling to tell me that my mother, who was battling cancer, had taken a turn for the worst. The first plane that I could catch home was two days later, out of Cleveland. My aunt told me all the important details, and I wrote them down on the back of a DCI yearbook someone had handed me. I was quite upset to say the least. While I was on the telephone I noticed a gathering of young people from the corner of my eye. Doc Santo was over my left shoulder with his hand on my back consolingly, they were on my right. They were polite enough to stay out of earshot, but I noticed the one boy was pointing at me and then down to his program. Another young lady had a DCI yearbook and was doing the same. It is amazing how heightened your senses become when you are in a stressful situation. After regaining my composure, I turned to return to the corps for retreat. I was then besieged by the group of youngsters who had gathered. "Are you the guy in the yearbook?" I heard one of them question. "Yes." I answered. Then a multitude of "Can I have your autograph?" questions followed. I think I signed 50 books, drumheads, and a Garfield T-shirt that day. Doc Santo just stood back and smiled. I think he knew just how therapeutic that was. I find it quite odd, yet very heartwarming how drum corps people know how to help each other. Thank you to all of you who came for the autographs that night in Alton. You helped me through a very difficult time. Drum corps has a special place in the hearts of all who enjoy it, but not as special as the individuals truly are. John Anthony (Tony) Connell was born on Oct. 27, 1963. He is married and is a father. He began his musical career at the bright young age of 5 as a baritone player for the Cambria Cadets "pee wee" drum and bugle corps. He continued his marching career with the Cambria Cadets through 1980. In 1981,Tony's marching moved eastward to New Jersey, where he marched with the Garfield Cadets through 1983. He was a three-year member of the Bishop Carroll High School marching band, which was under the direction of Jim McCurdy (who was the former Director of the USAF Academy drum and bugle corps). He attended Indiana University of Pa., where he majored in music education, and was a four-year member of the marching band, "Tubaphonium" ensemble and various other concert bands and orchestras. Tony's talents have landed him a host of directing opportunities. He has directed the Bishop Carroll High School marching band, the Cambria Heights marching band, the Cambria Cadets, the Baltimore Colts' Band, and, most recently, the St. John Vianney's Church choir. Tony Resides with his wife and daughter in the small town of Vintondale, Pa. He is the president of marketing for Breakwater International, a multifaceted musical promotional company and record label.