Drum Corps International
Blue Devils' train trip brings back memories of standard corps travel in the 1960s

Blue Devils' train trip brings back memories of standard corps travel in the 1960s

by Chris Weber

Get on the bus! That's a line that any former and current drum corps member can relate to. The bus not only becomes the primary mode of travel for drum corps members, but also an after-show relaxation refuge, hotel and home to use during trips to new housing sites. Blue Devils have tied standard drum corps travel practices to the train tracks this summer, however, as the corps currently is on a three-day trip from California to Illinois via Amtrak's California Zephyr line. This is the first time Blue Devils have traveled by train in the United States, and this may be the first organized trip of any corps by train since the 1960s. The Cavaliers' founder Don Warren recently recounted a trip the Cavaliers took in 1963 as the corps headed West to Seattle for an American Legion convention. "I remember there were four cars we took over on the train: a snack car, two passenger cars, and a box car where we stored our equipment and actually rehearsed a little on the trip," said Warren. "Eventually we came into a small town in Montana and got stopped because of a freight train accident ahead. Since we weren't going anywhere, someone in the corps had the idea to get out and rehearse. It must have been 2 a.m.! There was only one light on above this station, but sure enough as they started playing, lights started turning on all around the station, and people came out to watch. They loved it, and finally at about 5 a.m. we started on our way again." The corps proceeded without any set backs on the rest of the trip, except as Warren noted, when he was pulled aside at the end of the trip and told by the conductor, "Mr. Warren, your boys took my hat, and I would like it back." Blue Devils are scheduled to arrive in Galesburg, Ill., on July 4, with their first Midwest competition scheduled for July 7, in Dubuque, Iowa. The corps will wrap up its train adventures in a future installment of its video podcast, BlueView. Do you have a memory of a drum corps traveling the competitive tour by train? Send your thoughts to feedback@dci.org.