On the eve of one of the biggest shows of the DCI Tour, the Blue Devils staked their claim to be the best of the Masters of the Summer Music Games presented by Jupiter, Mapex & Majestic in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
Posting a score of 89.600 Friday night, the Blue Devils soared to the top of the DCI standings. The Concord, California corps overtook the Cadets for the first time since July 12, and now take the lead into the DCI Southeastern Championship tomorrow in Atlanta, an event which they have not lost in nine years.
“I’m very happy with the corps,” Blue Devils drum major Alana Stevenson said. “We’ve been putting in a lot of energy the last couple of days, and I’m happy to see that their effort has paid off.”
Stevenson was quick to credit Blue Devils instructors for the corps’ success.
“[Our staff] has been motivating us and making sure that our priorities and goals are right,” she said.
The shuffling in placements didn’t end there. Carolina Crown’s “Inferno,” a production that takes audience members through the depths of hell, continued its ascent, posting a score of 89.150 and moving up into second place.
“We’ve been able to overcome the incredible heat and humidity as well as being run down physically,” said Carolina Crown drum major Emily Saldago. “Mentally, [we’re] still on edge and focused all the time and really putting in 110 percent in everything we do.”
The Fort Mill, South Carolina corps has been heading toward home this week, with Atlanta the remaining stop between them and their home show on Sunday in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
“We are so excited,” Salgado said. “We’re so excited to have our home show in Winston-Salem. We’re excited for Atlanta. Just seeing the motivation of the corps, starting tonight, it’s just going to grow more and more.”
“Get ready,” Salgado said. “We’re going to bring the heat.”
The Cadets placed third with a score of 88.750. Music was the bright spot for the Allentown corps on the score sheets with a second-place finish overall in the caption including a first-place finish in brass.
Batting leadoff among the World Class corps, the Bluecoats (4th, 88.150) managed to close the gap on the Cadets to a mere six tenths of a point, the closest the two corps have been since June 20 when the Bluecoats finished ahead.
Santa Clara Vanguard lit up the Murfreesboro crowd with “The Spark of Invention,” placing fifth with a score of 87.100.
Vanguard recently added new light-up effects to the corps members’ uniforms, props, and front ensemble instruments. Fans will have the opportunity to view these new effects on Saturday at the DCI Southeastern Championship in Atlanta, which will be webcast onDCI Live! .
But Santa Clara did not need the new effects to take first in percussion in Murfreesboro, regaining its lead in the category it won at the DCI World Championship Finals last year.
Blue Knights finished sixth with a score of 84.750. The Denver corps regained ground on the top five corps after slipping behind over the past week. In Murfreesboro, the corps trimmed a four-point gap by more than a point and a half.
The Cavaliers finished in seventh with a score of 83.950. Members of the Green Machine continued to put pressure on the Blue Knights, trailing by less than a point.
“They’ve been working real hard in the heat of the South,” Cavaliers director Mark Ackerson said. “They really brought it to the field tonight, with everything they’ve been through all week. In the hot, humid weather, they rose to the occasion tonight.”
After the show, Ackerson was careful to remind his corps members to continue to work hard, but enjoy the final two weeks they will have to bond together as a team.
“Take that emotion that’s going to come out here in the ending and apply it to the show,” Ackerson said. “Keep going. Push all the way to the end.”
Phantom Regiment rounded out the World Class corps by placing eighth with a score of 83.150.
Slowly but surely, Phantom Regiment has been chipping away at its Illinois rival’s lead, cutting it down to just eight tenths of a point and setting the stage for close finishes the rest of the season.
Music City was the sole representative of the Open Class division at the event, scoring 65.150.
The Murfreesboro show is special for members of Music City, as it is the closest the DCI Tour gets to their home city of Nashville, a little over half an hour away.
“For me, it means more than performing at the Open Class Championship Finals,” Music City drum major Lane French said. “You get to see the people you grew up around and the people who really look up to you. You get to perform in front of them and show them what you’ve really got.”
Music City received the support of its home fans, with a not-insignificant number of audience members wearing red T-shirts adorned with the corps’ logo. Friends and family members greeted the corps both in and out of the stadium, taking photos and hugging the members of Tennessee’s only junior drum corps.
Seven years into Music City’s existence, drum corps is alive and well in Tennessee.
“We’re still a very young corps; we’ve only been around for seven years,” French said. “I would really thank [the fans] for helping us grow and for coming to support us and for being a part of the Music City experience.”
Contributing: Casey Smith