By Chris Weber Two weeks into the season and another week of all day rehearsals to go before the first show can be a daunting feeling for a drum corps member, especially one that has never been through the demands of a physically and emotionally grueling season. Justin Carpenter, a first-year baritone player with the Cavaliers, is one of those members currently facing this typical situation. Multimedia interviews with this story:
Charlton Gholson, Cavaliers horn line rookie
Levi Chavis, three-year horn line veteran
Joe Hobbs, rookie snare
David Arias, guard rookie
Jordan Warfield, field conductor
Chris Michelotti, contra player
Listen in as Jeff Fiedler instructs a rainy rehearsal

In addition to sideways levitation, members of the Cavaliers' guard have become learned in mind-reading and voice-throwing this spring.
"During pre-tour it's pretty tough to stay in gear if you aren't careful," said Carpenter. "Especially this past week when it started getting hot, I got pretty down and I think the corps morale itself was kind of low. It can be hard to get through, but I just keep in mind that there are 134 members sweating it out there with me. Knowing that I'm not alone in this with others working through the same set of trials with me is very reassuring." Check out a Cavaliers photo gallery. According to Aaron Brizuela, the Cavaliers' drum major, these types of feelings throughout the membership are all but an uncommon happening during this part of the season. "Myself and the other leaders do our best to keep our eyes open to the feel of the corps members to avoid low morale. Everyone goes through that at one point or another during the season whether it's a feeling of homesickness or missing your girlfriend, your favorite TV show or your cat and dog," said Brizuela. "We do our best to remind ourselves to keep our heads in the game. We've already been through two weeks and with the first show less than a week away, we keep pushing toward that goal." Like the average American who experiences culture shock when traveling overseas, in Carpenter's case, his frustration with the early season probably comes as a result of what can probably be labeled "drum corps shock." "Things in the beginning of the season were definitely a lot different than I had experienced before," he said. "A new style of marching and playing to learn, a new schedule to become accustomed to and getting myself physically prepared for the rigors of the show were all things that were thrown on me right from the beginning." Carpenter, who attends a small liberal arts college in Tennessee, has not had any marching band experience since high school three years ago. He may be at a disadvantage jumping into the drum corps scene cold turkey, but even those that have a wealth of off-season marching band experience can relate to similar early season frustrations. Mark Yetter, a first-year trumpet player with the Cavaliers, comes to DCI from the Westfield High School program, 2003 BOA Grand National Champions. "I definitely had a strong high school marching experience to bring with me to the Cavaliers, but just like anyone else, I didn't know quite what to expect at the start, and I was just as tired and sore after the first week of rehearsals as anyone else," said Yetter. But whether a new or a fifth year member, Brizuela said that the membership is very cohesive and aims toward common goals during pre-tour. "We focus in rehearsals to put energy into every rep. When we hit the field for the first show we don't want a single performance to go by where we're not energized and effective," he said. Energy and excitement is something that the Cavaliers hope to bring to their 2004 show, titled "007." In a departure from three years of completely original music show concepts, "007" draws from the most recent Bond film scores, including "Goldeneye," "Tomorrow Never Dies" and "Die Another Day." "Just about anybody that has been breathing within the last 40 years on the planet has heard music from the James Bond," said Fiedler. "You can say '007' almost anywhere in the world and people have a picture in their mind. I think the corps will embody the James Bond character and be very representative of that picture -- of who Agent 007 is." A 007 motif Fiedler said that while some may consider this type of show trite or unoriginal compared to Cavalier shows of the past, the program will prove to be anything but that. "This show isn't necessarily the original compositions based on source material as we have done in the past, but the way this show is combined and put together is not just an arrangement of a James Bond tune but a composition of a '007' motif." David Bertman, brass caption head, agreed. "The audience is going to get into this show just like all the other years, but for different reasons, which is really exciting. The visual intrigue is still there with Michael Gaines' drill and musically things are treated with the original flavor and harmonic language that arranger Richard Saucedo uses, yet the music and show in general is incredibly tangible for the audience because they know the James Bond persona." Bertman compared performing the 2004 show to the likes of the remake of an old song like the classic "Mack the Knife." "Ella Fitzgerald sang it, Sinatra sang it, all kinds of great people sang it. Each performer had their own little spin and twist on it, yet none of them are better or worse than the others. This show leads the audience on a journey down a familiar path, but there will still be new and exciting things to check out along the way," said Bertman. "I think we're on track with things right now," said Levi Chavis, a third-year trumpet veteran. "Not only will people probably be able to grasp this show really well with the James Bond influence, but this has also helped us as the performers tap into the emotion of the show, able to perform the music with more vigor and energy right off the bat." Fiedler highly recommends that audience members get out to multiple performances to catch all of details and nuances of the show. "I know already just seeing the first six minutes of the production that there is plenty to see and hear and plenty to miss the first two or three times you see it. People should definitely see us more than once if they want to see everything."