Drum Corps International
DeLucia explains his DCI Season Pass playlist

DeLucia explains his DCI Season Pass playlist

by Drum Corps International

By Dennis DeLucia Famed DCI broadcast personality Dennis DeLucia's top percussion performances are a featured playlist on the DCI Season Pass. You can go HERE to further investigate his playlist, which he explains in this article. When I was asked to list my all-time favorite drum lines, I thought "what an interesting challenge!" I'm fortunate enough to have been to every DCI World Championship, as a percussion arranger/instructor, program coordinator or TV commentator, so I've seen them all! There have been so many great moments in drum corps percussion -- so many brilliantly-written shows and so many extraordinary performances, that it seemed impossible to narrow them down to a workable-sized list! I've divided them into two groups: drum lines that I have been directly involved with, and drum lines that I have admired as a fan or competitor.

Of the drum lines that I have written for, taught or served as coordinator, these are among my favorites (in chronological order):

1. 1974 Hawthorne Muchachos. To a certain extent, a percussion arranger is at the mercy of the brass arranger! Creating the percussion score for a well-chosen and brilliantly written piece of music is a joyous challenge! Working with the arrangements of Larry Kerchner and Jeff Kievit was fun! The 1974 corps epitomized the energy of the East Coast, and the crowd's chanting of "East, East, East" at Championships in Ithaca, N.Y., inspired a performance that was, by any standard, spectacular! It was the first time that I felt that we, and I, had arrived. 2. 1975 Hawthorne Muchachos. Their performance at the CYO Nationals in Boston was mesmerizing in its accuracy, energy, musicality and impact! My friend Charlie Poole (27th Lancers, DCI Hall of Fame) said that he had never witnessed an event in which eight snare drummers totally captivated an audience for 12 minutes. Hall of Famer Rod Goodhart, who judged that night, actually walked back on to the field after the corps finished performing, to congratulate the line for its then-historic score of 19.5 (on the "tick" system!). Rod, in an interview last year, called it "the single most memorable moment of his drum corps career." The season ended tragically in Philadelphia, as the corps was disqualified for using an over-age member, never recovered, and disappeared entirely just two years later. But the memories and friendships and accomplishments will be with me [us] forever. 3. 1976 Bridgemen. The creative, groundbreaking, revolutionary Bobby Hoffman and the brilliant brass arrangements of Larry Kerchner made my first year with the Bridgemen the most interesting and fulfilling of my career. It was NOT a very talented corps, and certainly not the best drum line, but the journey from poor performances and skeptical audiences to finalist-quality performances and the adulation and acceptance of fans everywhere was wonderful and activity-altering! The response from judges and the audience at finals to the full-corps "faint" was something I/we could never forget!

4. 1980 Bridgemen. The best all-around edition of the Bananas: "Thunder and Blazes," "In The Stone," "The Civil War Suite," our first drum trophy, and coming within five-tenths of the championship. A great season!

5. 1982 Bridgemen. My favorite drum line: Talented, expressive, hard-working, fun, wacky, idiomatically hip and totally committed to the program. A great staff led by Bob Dubinski and Pat Scollin, more fantastic charts by Larry Kerchner, the first year for the drum solo called "Black Market Juggler," our third consecutive drum title, and fun everywhere! At the show in Pittsfield, Mass., the drum line set an all-time record for the "tick" system: a 19.8! One tick, and one-tenth from perfection in percussion analysis -- amazing!

6. 1983 Bridgemen. A second year for "Black Market Juggler" -- this time with blindfolds! The reaction to the solo at the August [home] show in Bayonne, N.J., and at World Championships in Miami, was overwhelming! The standing ovation in Miami lasted a full minute! What a goose-bump moment, embedded in our memories forever.

7. 1989 Star of Indiana. The British show: "Henry V," "Crown Imperial," and my favorite Jim Prime arrangement: "Fantasia on the Dargason." We had had a 10-inch snare drum built for us to use in the center of each quad setup. Coupled with our regular marching snares and one "pipe" snare in the pit, we used the three snare drum colors throughout the show. After so many years writing "groove" charts, this show was a challenge and a pleasure for me. Working with Jim Prime, Bob Dubinski (again) and Pat Scollin (again) was wonderful. We won drums at prelims, lost by two-tenths at finals -- not bad for a corps that didn't even exist five years earlier!

8. 1992 Crossmen. I became the program coordinator for the Crossmen in 1990. Mark Thurston was the talented percussion arranger/caption head. It was a new challenge for me -- NOT being the "drum guy"! But Mark and the staff were great! The leadership of director Carl Ruocco, the brass arrangements of Matt Krempasky, and a radical concept in programming (the three-year "Songs For Planet Earth") made 1992 a satisfying and rewarding journey. It is Mark Thurston's best writing, and the corps highest placement ever.

Here are 12 of my all-time favorite percussion programs, in chronological order:

1. 1974 Santa Clara Vanguard. Gail Royer and the incomparable Fred Sanford combined to create a musical program that was as important to the growth of the activity as it was successful. "Young Person's Guide" set the new standard for artistic achievement.

2. 1976 Blue Devils. "Channel One Suite," Wayne Downey and Rick Odello, new standards in excellence.

3. 1977 Etobicoke Oakland Crusaders. The emergence of Tom Float, and the oddity of a drum line winning percussion in prelims while the corps did not make finals!

4. 1980 27th Lancers. The days when "variety" was a good thing! "Folksong Suite," "Open Wide," "New Country" drum solo, "Danny Boy." Hall of Famer Charlie Poole at his best!

5. 1981 Santa Clara Vanguard. The emergence of future Hall of Famer Ralph Hardimon as a brilliant arranger, a repertoire that included "Northridge," "Slava" and a return of "Young Person's Guide", and a talented, mature, experienced drum line at the dawn of the "pit" era puts this corps on my list.

6. 1987 Garfield Cadets. "Appalachian Spring," Thom Hannum's magnificent writing and a perfect score in percussion in one of the earliest years of the "buildup" (or "subjective," or "non-tick") scoring system. The visual team of George Zingali and Marc Sylvester wrote an absolute masterpiece!

7. 1987 Santa Clara Vanguard. Ralph Hardimon's use of blend, expression and textural interest brought the Russian-themed music to life. "Russian Christmas Music" and "Great Gate of Kiev" are classics! Among my favorites ever.

8. 1993 Star of Indiana. Thom Hannum's phenomenal use of orchestral devices made this percussion book the most seamless entity in terms of battery-to-pit writing. His "choices" complemented Jim Prime's brass charts beautifully. Bob Dubinski became one of only a very few to win the drum title with more than one corps! "Medea": Enough said!

9. 2000 Cadets. Tom Aungst and Neil Larrivee combined to create a percussion book and ensemble that was musical, clean as a whistle and entertaining! Can anyone forget the drum solo?

10. 2002 Boston Crusaders. The "next generation" of percussion artists emerges in the person of Rich Viano, whose creative, timbral, idiomatic approach is a welcome breath of fresh air! His stylistic interpretations of a varied program work from beginning to end. The line is very musical!

11. 2004 Cavaliers. Bret Kuhn and Erik Johnson collaborate to breathe new life into "James Bond." The show exemplifies how a corps can succeed when its designers truly understand what "team" means! Bret's Latin groove is as good as the activity has ever heard!

12. 2004 Santa Clara Vanguard. Jim Casella and Murray Gusseck win another percussion title for the Vanguard with a fantastic interpretation of "Scheherazade." This corps has succeeded and set new standards in percussion in four different decades with three distinguished arrangers: Sanford, Hardimon and Casella. Bravo!

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