By Matthew Smith
Seattle Cascades
This past Saturday I had a chance to go to one of California's premiere marching band competitions held at California State University, Fresno -- the Sierra Cup Classic. Normally I would show up for class AAA and AAAA competition, but since I now pay to get into these shows, I decided I would show up early and watch class A through AAAA, and write reviews on each of the band performances.

Matthew Smith
Besides the people working the event, I was one of the first spectators in the stadium for this show. I sat in the very center on the 50, in the center row of seats, making sure I would get the premium seating for what was to come later in the evening. I was sitting by myself at this show, because I didn't know if I would see any old band friends or directors. Sure enough, as my alma mater Herbert Hoover High School took the field first in competition for Class AA, I saw some alumni cheering, so I picked up really fast and went over to sit with them. They had no idea that I had marched in the Seattle Cascades this past summer, until they saw me wearing the corps jacket. Through parts of our alma mater's show, they would ask me, "So how was it?", "What all did you learn?", "Was it hard?" and "Who did you see?" I was happy that they actually understood what corps was, so I couldn't resist talking about it through the performance. I eventually told them to stick around, and we would continue after the bands were done. As the bands did their shows, they would leave and huddle up in a random area that was not seen by us in the stadium, and then would get out of uniform, and come back and support the rest of the groups. Each time a band would perform, and leave the field afterwards, my buds from Hoover would keep asking me more questions about corps. As the evening continued to progress, with more bands coming on, more groups that had already performed came and took seats in the stadium with the general audience. You see, at Fresno State, the band members that perform get to sit in their selected spot on the good side of the stadium, not in the backfield. I saw many members and staff from various corps, from Valley Fever through Santa Clara Vanguard, as they came into the stands with their bands. Wearing my corps jacket attracted a lot of the high school students, who were interested in marching corps, and those who had already marched. It was like a reunion in many aspects. I met people who had seen the Seattle Cascades throughout the summer, and I met those who didn't get the chance to. So we all had a lot of words to exchange. I felt bad for the "marching band" people, because we drum corps freaks were turning their competition into a drum corps reunion. A member from Santa Clara Vanguard tapped me on the back and said, "Eh, you marched with Seattle Cascades?" I smiled, and the conversation kept going from there. A girl sitting three rows up from me marched in the Mandarins this past summer; she too came in and joined on the conversation. A student that I taught for one year while I helped at my alma mater had marched in the Vanguard Cadets, and he sure enough saw my jacket. He ran to me, gave me a big ol' hug, then shook my hand and said "It's all about Vanguard baby!" I grinned, smiled, and congratulated him on his first season. As the competing bands were done performing, the Fresno's Bulldog Marching Band did exhibition, and some of them came into the stands following their performance to watch the awards portion. As I was leaving to beat the crowd out of the stadium, yet another Vanguard Cadet (who marched in the Bulldog Marching Band that night, and who was also a student I taught while at Hoover) yelled, "HEY, MATT SMITH! Dude what's going on?" And again, another conversation took place, while around us, people were trying to clear out the stadium. But we were engrossed in our own world. I finally made it out of the stadium and into the parking lot, and an old friend came toward me with her hands out yelling "OH MY GOSH, MATT SMITH! Where have you been?" She tugged on my jacket, and said "Ohhh, I like, you finally decided to march, eh?" This conversation took place in the middle of the parking lot, as chartered buses were trying to leave, and as equipment trucks were following behind -- we were too busy in our own little world. We spent well over an hour just talking about corps -- she wanted me to fill her in on every small detail of my summer. That Saturday night was probably one of the best nights I have had in a while. Normally, I will only go to shows to see certain bands, and then leave. I'm sure glad I stayed longer. Most of all, I am glad I wore my corps jacket! That thing was like magic! I attracted people from all over, from Division II and Division I corps, staff, students, old age outs, you name it. The last conversation I had that evening meant the most to me. I spotted the director I used to work for at Sunnyside H.S. (Fresno) who now teaches at Johansen H.S. (Modesto). I ran up to her and hugged her at the same time, saying "I MISS YOU!" We haven't seen each other or talked in almost one year, and I didn't know she had left. She didn't have much time to talk to me, because she has a long ride back to Modesto with her band, but she did tell me we would talk again at the next show that we would both be attending. We both agreed on what she said: "I love coming to these marching band events, its always like a big reunion." Even though I didn't know half the people I conversed with that evening, it was still a reunion in the sense that we all shared the common bond of drum corps. Those are the moments that make marching all worthwhile. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing and talking with someone who has done drum corps, or who simply knows what the activity is. I'm sure I could have talked all night to any one of the individuals I ran into that night. If you haven't caught on by now, I'm still on a "high" from it all. I've decided that I am going to go to all of the remaining local marching band shows, and championships, where I know there will be plenty more of us out there. You may also be saying to yourself, "This guy just wants attention" Well, you're right, I want the attention of those who love drum corps, and who love to talk about it just as much as me. Had I not been wearing my corps jacket that night, I probably would have just shown up to the show and left, not having talked to a single person. Now I have met some new friends, who I will see again at various events, and we will have even more to share the next time. Some close friends asked, "Dude, why are you wearing your corps jacket? This is a high school band show." I then told them, "This is why I wore the corps jacket. I met numerous new friends, contacts, and reunited with those who love this activity. This is why corps jackets are magic." For those of you who wish to contact me, my email is, or you can reach me on AOL Instant Messenger on the screen name bandgeekmatt. I'm always looking forward to hearing from other drum corps fans and freaks! So drop me a line. Last installment of Accelerando