Drum Corps International
A Strong and fierce Spirit: Catching up with an Alabama corps in Pennsylvania

A Strong and fierce Spirit: Catching up with an Alabama corps in Pennsylvania

by Chris Weber

As the 2004 season begins to wind down, Nathan Haskew, Spirit from JSU soprano section leader, wants to make sure that he leaves no regrets behind when the season comes to a close. "This is my age-out year and I don't want to leave anything undone," said Haskew. "Right now we want to push our show to the best that we can perform it. We want to truly max it out." Check out a Spirit photo gallery. While on their way to perfecting the show, many Spirit members have labeled this particular season as a very different experience from previous seasons. One cause of that may be the tough competition that all Division I corps have faced since the start of the season in June.

Spirit drum major Ben Weed salutes a warm Pennsylvania afternoon.
"We are fighting with a lot of corps within a very small margin," said Kelly Knowlson, pit section leader. "A lot of corps are there and we're trying to be at the top of the list for sure. That has made this year very busy, exciting and a big push all summer long." Brooke Dailey of the color guard feels the pressures of this season, but realizes that the corps is handling things very well, considering the high stress levels that intense competition can bring. "We've come a really long way this season. Things are so different this year that honestly I almost feel like I am a rookie again," she said. "We seem a lot more prepared than we were last year. We have a better product and better show all together that will help us push on up." Spirit's 2004 program, "The Architecture of Life," looks at the individual components of life and how those systems weave and interact with one another. The result is a blend of original music, recognizable tunes and high-intensity visual moments. "The show is so diverse," said Haskew. "There are in-your-face moments, moments that will make you cry and still other moments for every drum corps fan out there." His favorite section is the third movement, "Soundscape." "The horns and percussion switch roles in that part. The horns take charge with a more rhythmic role, and the percussion takes on melodic duties. It's a role reversal that you don't see very often in music." Knowlson agrees that the third movement has its moments, but the total show package isn't wrapped up until the closer. "In the funk section in the closer, the horn line lets loose while the drum line is throwing down some crazy fat beats," she said. "The pit has a lot of different colors going on, making it an untypical drum corps kind of thing. I see it as a couple of bars of all out crazy fun that pushes us to the end." "What we do and how we perform is all about the fans," Haskew added. "We want to guarantee that our performance makes people enjoy the $12 that they pay to see it." Only time will tell where Spirit ends up at the end of this season, but Knowlson has a prediction that encompasses more than just the outcome of this season. "We're not going away no matter how hard every other corps tries to keep us down. No matter what happens at the end of the season, we're not going to be gone next year. We will keep pushing and will be a top 12 drum corps consistently from here on out."

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