Drum Corps International
D?(c)j?? vu

D?(c)j?? vu

by Drum Corps International

David Pressley is a high school guidance counselor in Western North Carolina and marched in the Memphis Blues Brass Band drum and bugle corps before ageing out of the Blue Knights in 1984. He has served as a bus driver for Florida Wave, Colts, Madison Scouts, and, most recently, Southwind. The following is his recollection of two visits to Port Huron, Mich. Ten or 11 months each year, I can be found at work in my high school guidance office. I analyze transcripts, adjust student schedules and tame the paper tiger of standardized testing. Sometimes, on good days, I even manage to counsel a few students. It's my career and I feel like I do my job well. I most enjoy, however, the magical seven to 14 days each summer when I can get away and just drive a bus -- a drum corps bus! My wife marched drum corps and she approves, so long as I don't forget where I live! For a magical week or two I help bring the show we know as drum and bugle corps to your town and I love almost every minute of it. It is a genuine thrill getting to know the dedicated and motivated young people on my bus. I enjoy doing what I can to insure that their experience as drum corps members is as valuable to them as my experience was twenty years ago. I enjoy seeing the shows from different vantages every night. I enjoy visiting with old friends who are teaching, driving, selling souvies or whatever else for the other corps we encounter along the way. I enjoy doing the "missionary work." That's answering questions about the activity from curious onlookers who turn up at housing sites or talking with an excited young Bands of America summer workshop camper from Kentucky at her first-ever drum corps show in Normal, Ill. I've been doing this for a while and I'm betting she'll turn up, mellophone in hand, at a Southwind camp this fall! Getting to the point though, real life was proving to be a bit intrusive the summer of 2004 and I had fully anticipated not "playing" drum corps at all. I had even told a couple of corps directors that I wouldn't be available this season. Then, in mid-June, my phone rang and a young man from the Madison Drum and Bugle Corps Association explained that he was trying to round out his driver rosters and anything (make that ANYTHING) I could do, even if only four or five days, would be greatly appreciated. That's how it came about that at 2 a.m. on June 23, I pulled into the lot at Port Huron (Mich.) Chippewa Middle School driving Southwind's horn bus. Inside the gym and I was immediately overwhelmed by a sense of d?©jà vu. This place is unique. The bleachers are on one side of the court and a stage is on the other. The showers are located down little half staircases under the stage rather than on one end or the other as in most gyms. D?©jà vu? Yes! I slept here once before, as a member of the Blue Knights in 1984. What memories! It was our first show after Whitewater and our resident artist, a rookie horn line member, left his mark on the locker room chalkboard. Dave's "artwork" depicted the now infamous Garfield Cadets horn line members who tripped and fell in Whitewater that year. Bugles were flying, plumes were mangled, the Garfield logo screamed "Beyond Tradition," and a DCI judge was calmly saying into his tape recorder, "We seem to have a slight interval problem here." No disrespect was intended. It was just one of those things which help a corps down the backstretch of the season. Dave himself even went on to age out of Garfield's baritone line in 1987. Later that day we moved our gear over to one side of the gym. Santa Clara was coming in to house with us and they needed all the space we could give them. One of our baritone players connected with a friend from back home who was a member of Santa Clara's guard. The corps watched each other rehearse a little and a Vanguard member told us in the showers later that he fully expected to see the Blue Knights in finals someday. It doesn't matter whether he meant that, it was a nice gesture. The parking lot at Chippewa Middle School is where our director introduced me to Gail Royer, someone I've always considered to be one of the legends of the activity. Those who haven't done so ought to check out the tribute to Gail in Santa Clara's corps hall if you're ever in the Bay Area. The show that night was the mother of all rainouts! It was such a downpour that the guy working the back gate in 2004 is still talking about it! He said to me, "Garfield did an exhibition first that night and then the corps from Denver went on. The skies just opened up during their second number, but you know what? We have good fans here and not one of them ran for cover until after those kids finished their show!" I could tell he had been there. He had the facts straight. I answered, "You don't say?" So here's to Port Huron, Mich., a great drum corps town where a stadium full of people will sit through a hurricane if there's a corps on the field. Who knows, maybe some kid in Southwind, a rookie at the front of the bus "playing the game," or a seasoned vet sitting back in the bus ghetto, will be on staff with some corps from somewhere in 2024. Maybe they'll pull up to Chippewa Middle School at 2 a.m. and the kid will think, "I slept here in 2004. This is where we waited out the rain delay in the bank drive-through," and the cycle will repeat itself again. Who knows?
 
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 master's 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.