Ken Bodiford, director the of SPIRIT from Jacksonville State University, wrote in to explain why DCI is as much a staple in the South as lemonade and pecan pie: The South and drum corps is a natural combination. Unbelievably hot days of rehearsal yield balmy nights under stadium lights, and the heavy summer air holds the sound of brass in your face just a second longer than in the cool North. Marching bands and outdoor pageantry have long been a great tradition of the South, a region built upon heritage and conservative values. The cost of maintaining a drum corps is difficult here; unlike California or Pennsylvania, bingo halls are not the norm. New financial challenges have given way to a new breed of corps. Where else would the world's first college-based drum corps make its debut? Alabama, of course! And Jacksonville State University's Spirit Drum and Bugle Corps was built on the existing cornerstone of an icon from neighboring Georgia, the Spirit of Atlanta. When I came back to my alma mater, JSU, as director of bands in 1994, I brought drum corps to Jacksonville by hosting the Southern Brass Classic drum corps competition. The JSU Marching Southerners have always presented corps-style shows to great acclaim here at JSU. Many of our students here have long participated in various corps around the country (I myself marched baritone in the 1986 Suncoast Sound -- 5th at DCI Finals -- an experience that I wouldn't trade for anything). In 1996, I invited Spirit of Atlanta to use JSU as its main rehearsal site and its second home. In 2000, after a very rough summer tour, I was asked to assume the director position of the corps, and to reorganize the group as a JSU ensemble. In 2003, we are hosting three shows, along with Friends of Spirit and the Spirit of Atlanta Alumni Association. Our program coordinator, David Starnes, is also director of the outstanding band program at Kennesaw Mountain High School near Atlanta, where two of the three shows will be held (the third is at JSU). David brings new associations with the metro Atlanta area, and the Spirit Alumni are an enthusiastic workforce that is stronger than ever. Atlanta Brass Classic

Thunder at the Mountain

SPIRIT of America