Drum Corps International
Becoming a drum corps fan

Becoming a drum corps fan

by Drum Corps International

A few weeks ago, some readers of "Fanfare" responded to a question as to how they became drum corps fans. A few of their responses are below.

Michael Boo
Mike New is an Austin, Texas, fan with no corps affiliation, although he is a member of the Cavaliers' Alumni and Booster Association. In 1989, he was a high school freshman, one of four drummers in the band. The two older drummers used to tap out a cadence that they said came from Phantom Regiment. Much later, Mike found out the cadence wasn't at all from Phantom, but at the time, he was struck at the reverence shown by the older drummers when they mentioned the corps. Mike had no idea what drum corps was, asking if Phantom Regiment was a college band. One of the older drummers lent him a video of the 1989 World Championship PBS broadcast. Mike remembers, "I must have watched the video ten times that weekend. The sheer athleticism and perfectly played music was like nothing I'd ever seen before. We had decent bands around town, but nothing like this, which was light years ahead of high school or college bands. "I remember wondering, 'How could they catch the rifles from that high in the air? Were those drummers just using the backs of their sticks? Did the Cavaliers put everyone on cymbals? How can they afford that? How can the pit players play so fast? How did the Phantom horns snap around that 180-degree turn at the end of the closer so fast?' "I started devotedly watching the finals broadcasts from then on. In 1993, I got a credit card, so I started getting the DCI catalog and ordering current and back CDs and cassettes. "Once they went to delayed 'highlights' shows, I called the score line at DCI on finals night, just to know who won. I remember the 'warm fuzzy' I got when I heard that the Blue Devils won in 1994, then the sheer shock of seeing the covers of the CDs (before the broadcast aired here) and thinking, 'Who's this on the cover?' [Blue Devils had gotten new uniforms that year.] "I popped the first CD in my stereo late at night, added the headphones, and off I went. I remember the wide-eyed looks that were on my face after 'Day Danse' in 1994 and 'La Danza Pasillo' in 1995, as I sat there with a silly grin on my face. "I still didn't know that much about the activity, though I never realized it. I didn't really know any of the history or the personalities, just who the corps were and their music. I didn't know about the different regions, or even the history of the corps and their evolution. "I finally got online in 1996, and my real education started. Trust me, no matter how much you know (or think you know), you'll find someone who knows more. I learned much more than I can ever recount. I also took advantage of online ordering to start getting the source material that corps shows were based on. Over 200 CDs and many years later, I'm finally starting to consider myself well-rounded musically. "There's so much in-depth information on drum corps that can be found on these boards that you can spend years or even decades learning about this crazy, niche activity that I think is the greatest and most fun pastime in the world. I know I still am learning. "And to think, it was that opening rotating box set to 'Les Miserables' in 1989 that got me hooked." Tim Sailer is a Sioux Falls, S.D., fan. He became a fan as a trumpet-playing freshman in high school, when he first learned about DCI from his band directors. Some of the band members were already in corps that summer, but initially, the thought of being in a corps did not at all appeal to Tim. He thought drum corps was a waste of time activity with way-too-military overtones. Then, one day in during band class, one of the directors put on a drum corps video and he had his first taste of what drum corps really was. In fact, he found himself getting hooked. Weeks later, he learned that there was going to be a drum corps show in his hometown. Tim now knew that drum corps was a cool activity, but this would be his first chance to experience it live. On July 30, 2002, he and his brother drove to their high school to watch Phantom Regiment rehearse. One block away, Tim decided to turn off the air conditioning in the car and roll down the windows, hoping to catch the sound of the corps. After several seconds of silence, the haunting chords of the horn line played as they parked. Tim remembers the experience with awe. "Phantom Regiment was marching in my high school field. That's the place were I spend an hour every morning in the fall, and they were right there! The feeling was quite a rush and I knew that I would not be disappointed when I saw my first live show that following night." The story of Tim Sailer is not over, yet. He is hoping to march Phantom Regiment as a soprano this year. We hope to hear from him in the future. We also hope to hear more from Joe Smith, a trumpet player from Ankeny, Iowa. He had never heard about drum corps before his sophomore year in high school in 2001. His band's head drummer, a snare drummer for Emerald Knights, explained the activity to him and told him how great it was to march in a corps. Joe studied what he could find on drum corps on the Internet. His band director suggested he try out for the Colts and lent him a tape of the corps' 2001 show, which Joe watched almost a dozen times that night. As he remembers, "It was amazing to see a group of dedicated people like that pull off a show. I wanted to be part of the Colts -- I didn't even know what a soprano was, yet I knew where I belonged." Joe was put in touch with the corps via his band director, but ran into a roadblock from his dad, who was uncomfortable with the idea of him being gone for 10 weeks straight with a bunch of kids who were much older. Yet, he became determined to do drum corps some day, and started living a "drum corps junkie's life." He started visiting all the corps forums and Web sites every day, and began listening to corps music almost non-stop. During the summer of 2002, he followed the posting of scores on the DCI Web site and read reviews of shows wherever he could find them. On July 29, he got to see Colts practice for a show, and as soon as he heard the horns in the giant warm-up arc, he knew drum corps was in his blood. After rehearsal, he met his dad, and they went to the show together. At the show, his dad was quite surprised at the quality of the activity, and he started supporting his son's desire to march. Joe attended three different corps camps to see how he compared to other attendees. He's still hoping for a spot in the Colts' brass line and believes that drum corps will become a major part of his life. Bill Clark of Los Angeles has been a DCI fan for over 25 years. He grew up outside LaCrosse, Wis., and his parents would drive him, his two brothers and sister to the annual Mississippi Rhapsody show hosted by the Blue Stars during the mid-1970s. His parents couldn't afford to buy everyone tickets, so they would watch the show through the chain link fence. Sometimes, they didn't even get out of the car. According to Bill, "When I was old enough, I would ride my bike to the field where the Blue Stars rehearsed and sat for hours watching them march and get yelled at! I was fascinated, and started to go to the yearly show with friends. There was some amazing talent coming to my little hometown. "My first Mississippi Rhapsody show inside the fence would have been around 1979, when I was allowed to ride my bike over to the stadium by myself. I went to the home show for the next few years. One year it got moved indoors due to rain. The corps performed in standstill, one of them being Spirit of Atlanta. They blew everyone away! We were all jammed into the gym across the street from the stadium and people LOVED it! "After moving to Los Angeles, I met someone who was an even bigger fanatic that I was and we started flying around to competitions together. I thought he was so cool because he was even a Friend of DCI and got us great seats for championships one year. He passed away a few years ago so now I dedicate every show I attend to his memory and our love of the activity. "After a brief three-year stint living back in the Midwest, where I got to see a lot more shows each summer, I'm back in Los Angeles. I try to take as many friends as possible to the few shows we have in Southern California. It never ceases to amaze me, when I ask friends (old and new) if they want to go to a drum and bugle corps show, they say 'OK' and really have a great time. "The friends that I take with me to shows are amazed at the talent and speed and entertainment and ALWAYS ask if this is affiliated with schools. Some have expressed interest in going to Denver for the 2004 World Championships. Everyone always asks good questions and it's fun to answer them while sitting in the stadium, because people sitting around you always want to chime in and help explain things. "There is a great core group of people in my life now who ask me when the shows are going to be and if they can go along. There is so much joy in this activity and I'm going to just keep doing my part to spread it around." Calling all readers – What is the strangest or the most interesting thing your corps has received for winning (or participating in) a show or parade? Please share your memories with us for consideration in a future "Fanfare" column. Send your contribution to Michael Boo at boomike@aol.com. Please put "Interesting item" in the Subject heading at the top of your e-mail. Please include your name, hometown, corps affiliation (if applicable) and years marching with or working with the corps (if applicable). No anonymous comments, please. We will credit you for your contribution. Michael Boo has been involved with drum and bugle corps since 1975, when he marched his first of three seasons with the Cavaliers.

He has a bachelor's degree in music education and a masters degree in music theory and composition.
   
He has written about the drum corps activity for over a quarter century for publications such as Drum Corps World, and presently is involved in a variety of projects for Drum Corps International, including souvenir program books, CD liner notes, DCI Update and Web articles, and other endeavors. Michael currently writes music for a variety of idioms, is a church handbell and vocal choir director, an assistant director of a community band, and a licensed Realtor in the state of Indiana. His other writing projects are for numerous publications, and he has published an honors-winning book on the history of figure skating. His hobbies include TaeKwonDo and hiking the Indiana Dunes. But more than anything, Michael is proud to love drum corps and to be a part of the activity in some small way, chronicling various facets of each season for the enjoyment of others.