LEBANON, Indiana — In many ways, the shared mantra surrounding Blue Stars’ April rehearsal camp — the corps’ final camp before spring training and the 2023 DCI Summer Tour — all tied back to one notion.

This year, everything has been taken up a notch for the La Crosse, Wisconsin corps.

According to brass caption head Travis Larson, that was evident even throughout the corps’ auditions this past winter.

“We (as an organization) really haven’t changed much,” brass caption head Travis Larson said. “It's really just the experience level and the talent level of the students coming in, it's just been going up, and up, and up, and up.”

And it’s continued to be the case during offseason rehearsals, all building toward Blue Stars’ April camp.

“It's like night and day,” trumpet section leader Alex DeFrances said. “Last year, we had a great season. And last year, our camps during the offseason were super great. But I just feel like with the drive and the energy that the horn line has, and the drive and the energy that I'm seeing from the rest of the corps, I'm just so excited to see it all come together through the summer.”

“Every time I come back here, I shake my head,” Larson added. “I can’t believe the progress.”

Blue Stars’ April camp was — among many exciting things — an opportunity for the corps’ full membership and staff to work as one cohesive unit for the first time since the winter.

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Blue Stars' mellophone section works on music at the corps' 2023 April rehearsal camp.


From an educational and developmental perspective, as Larson described, it’s a huge step toward the summer, with spring training “move-ins” set for May 26 in Forest City, Iowa.

“We're meeting here just to assess where we're at, and then come up with the best plan to get these kids ready as possible for day one of move-ins,” Larson said. “We're gonna use this time to make sure that they’re ready to rock.”

But from a social perspective as well, according to mellophone player Hannah Kirby and color guard member Zerg Gamble, April camp was a sight for sore eyes.

“One thing I love about the Blue Stars is absolutely the culture; hands down, it's my favorite thing,” Kirby said. “Everyone here is so supportive. So, seeing everyone else is just like having all the good vibes come back.”

“It feels really good right now, especially the first time that the color guard has been together since auditions,” Gamble said. “We’re just getting to gel and feel everybody out and get back into the swing of things.”

As Larson explained, the potential new heights of Blue Stars’ 2023 season go beyond the growth found in auditions and rehearsal time.

He didn’t hold back in describing it; the corps’ yet-to-be-revealed production, too, has been cranked up to a new level.

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Blue Stars members take part in the corps' 2023 April rehearsal camp.


“The show's awesome,” Larson said. “The show has just an incredible way of taking you through this crazy spectrum of emotion in a short amount of time.”

“One thing I can promise — the only thing I'll promise — is frickin’ volume,” he added. “We're going to create a lot of energy and excitement. It’s going to be insane. We want to see our kids performing with a ton of passion, and energy, and fire, and this show gives them the opportunity to do that.”

According to Larson, with such a high-energy production in their hands, there’s clear excitement among members to take their performance level to a new stratosphere.

Members expressed the same, sharing the sentiment that something potentially special seems to be brewing around the corps for 2023.

“I think that they're really feeling that we have a chance to do something here,” Larson said. “They seem to be really focused and driven on this common goal. “We really think that this is a year that we can do something really special. So, we don’t want to waste that opportunity.”

“This year, we're coming into it a little bit more aggressively,” Kirby added. “We're more excited. We're like, yes, we can do this.”

Across the board, though, if there’s one thing that’s truly ramped up to a new degree — it’s excitement to get back on the road.

“(April camp) really just helps me to know that drum corps is happening, it's starting again,” DeFrances said. “And I'm just so excited for the summer.”

View Blue Stars’ 2023 DCI Tour Schedule