Drum Corps International
Drum corps friends through the years

Drum corps friends through the years

by Michael Boo

The following is contributed by Stephanie Louden and David Pressley. (Stephanie): Friends are a great treasure. It's been said that if you have three good friends, then you are blessed. Well, I have more then that, so I must be truly blessed! Drum corps brings out the best and the worst of us -- when we are together, marching, sweating, looking our worst and being our best. I was lucky to march with two corps who instilled values of togetherness and becoming a family type atmosphere. I marched in the Memphis Blues Brass Band in 1982-1983 and the 27th Lancers in 1984-1986. In 1983 I met someone who would end up being not only a true friend but also a mentor who helped me through some of the hardest ordeals in my life. There is something about having a friend who will stick by you no matter what, who knows you and your deep dark secrets and loves you regardless of whether they agree with you or not. They stand by you through thick and thin. Those are the kinds of friends I have met through my drum corps career and continue to meet. David Pressley, whom I met in 1983, is such a friend that I described above. He came into the Blues in 1983 from North Carolina. I remember when we became acquainted. Ken Norman and some other horn instructors were wondering if there were some of us mid voices who might be interested in playing the flugelhorn. I gave it a shot. I preferred the mellophone, though. I remember David picked it up though and it was there where we began a long and lasting friendship that has remained through the years. (David): I remember that day in 1983. I thought that playing flugel instead of being just another soprano player might be kind of cool. Besides, it worked for Chuck Mangione, right? The Memphis Blues were a struggling corps that spring. Rumors of financial trouble abounded and many people believed that the corps might fold before the season even began. We were working hard to learn our parts and to recruit new members to fill the holes in the horn line. It was an uphill battle. At each camp we had quality new people coming in, BUT we would also be surprised by the absence of veteran members who were reportedly off to greener pastures with other corps. It was a slow trickle at first, but then it turned into a pretty steady stream. I remember having a great deal of respect for Stephanie. She was one of a handful of vets in the horn line who refused to jump ship. The Memphis Blues were her corps and she wasn't going anywhere else so long as that corps still lived. She had a tenacious character that deserves long-term friendship and support. (Stephanie): David has the perfect job -- he is a high school guidance counselor so he has summers off to volunteer for driving buses. That's what he does in order to give back to the activity he loves. He and I both struggle with a lot of the changes going on in the drum corps world, but we try to adapt. I was happy when I found out my friend David was driving for the Colts this summer, because I met someone from their organization last summer at finals and realized why David felt most at home with that organization. Drum corps is a great activity, it teaches you ways to cope with things in life that never leave you. It also teaches you about the importance of family and friends. In 1983 when we were small in size but big in heart, Memphis Blues folded after what was then called DCI South in Birmingham. It was a long ride back to Memphis. I didn't think that I'd ever see any of the friends I had made that summer. I almost didn't want to march anywhere else. But when I heard from David again, he was trying to talk me into coming up to march with the 27th Lancers. He was going out for the horn line in 1984. I didn't know if I was ready so I just took the summer off and went to hang out with a friend of mine in Bloomington, Ind. Then as luck would have it, a spot was available with the 27th Lancers. There was a show in Bloomington we went to see that 27th was in. I went on tour and then I found out my friend David ended up going to Blue Knights to be with our former instructor George Lindstrom. (David): Yeah! Everyone knows that there are big dollars to be had driving drum corps buses! But seriously, I feel strongly about giving something back to the activity and spending time with people (members, instructional staff, drivers, souvie hawkers, etc.) who share many of the same passions I do. I'll add this to what Stephanie has said -- the activity remains unchanged in one fundamental way. It is still about young people who will not settle for just doing something. It is about young people who insist on doing well what they do, extremely well. I enjoy spending time in such a highly motivated environment and I enjoy being a part of the logistical force that gets these young performers to the gate. I'm looking forward to spending a brief amount of time with the Colts this summer. They are a corps that I generally enjoy seeing and some of my best drum corps experiences remain the days and weeks I spent with that organization in the 1990s. Maybe it has something to do with solid Midwest values! As for that 27th Lancer thing -- they were far and away my favorite 'other' corps at the time. After Memphis folded I attended a couple of their camps. I called some Memphis friends to see if they would come along since I could use some partners to help defray travel expenses to Revere. Stephanie was one of the folks I called. But then the Blue Knights called -- minutes after I walked in the door from an 18-hour Boston-to-Charlotte train ride. Several of the instructors and administrative people I had known in Memphis were going to work with that corps. Knowing that I was a music major at the time, they offered to hold a spot for me until I finished the spring semester. They were going to California on tour and I had never been to California before. And after that trip I didn't get back to California until driving a Madison Scouts bus there 18 summers later. Most importantly, the Blue Knights were getting new uniforms and they offered to order one specifically in my size. Those of you who know me are aware of just how large a gesture that was. After a couple of indecisive weeks I opted to march with the Blue Knights. The hundreds of dollars I would save not going to each winter camp were a bigger factor than I would admit at the time. The opportunity to travel to the West Coast with a number of people I already knew -- the friendship factor -- was another. Would Stephanie have made her way to the 27th Lancers without me? Probably. A number of other former Memphians did. (Stephanie): Anyway, ever since we have always maintained a friendship. He stuck by me through some tough times and when he went off to be in Desert Storm, I tried to be there for him. It was hard getting letters from him out there. I knew about his friendship with Jennie who would soon be his wife. He came to visit me at my house and my parents really like David. David was one of those friends who was like a brother to me. We always wrote to each other or called. Then when the Internet came along, we e-mailed. The dark ages before e-mail: It used to be on tour that everyone would seek out the availability of telephones at each no housing site. Cell phones have rendered that practice pretty much obsolete. Now everyone hopes to find a place to check their e-mail! When David got married before me, I thought it was cool that his wife was very understanding about our friendship. I didn't know many women who would be so open about guys having female friends. But I usually always had more male friends anyway. I have some female friends but I guess cause I have two brothers I was always used to being around guys more. Jennie and David came to our wedding in 2002. I finally got to meet Jennie face-to-face. Now we are forming our own friendship. And my husband and David hit it off as well. We are the married "drum corps friends." Jennie loves her Blue Devils and I love Santa Clara Vanguard, but we get along anyway! We try to meet every summer at a show and just sit and watch and bond. For our wedding present, they gave us the "History of Drum and Bugle Corps -- Part 1" book and for our first anniversary they gave us part 2. They told us if there was a volume 3 we were on our own! They even want us to come up and spend some time with them and go to a DCA show. We might just take them up on that. But here some 20 years later, David and I remain friends, our respective spouses are friends and we all have that common bond. We love drum and bugle corps. (David): It is surprising but many people can, in retrospect, point to a specific event or decision that significantly impacts their lives twenty years (and counting) later. Stephanie, Roger, Jennie, and I can. That one significant event for me was my decision to audition for the Memphis Blues as opposed to Spirit of Atlanta or Southwind -- the two next nearest corps at the time. In Memphis I made the contacts who led me to the Blue Knights and later the Florida Wave where I first met the girl who would become my wife. In Jennie's case it was a conscious decision on her part to join the Florida Wave at a time when the Suncoast Sound was still a real powerhouse. For Stephanie it was obviously her decision to join the 27th Lancers and to stay there with the same tenacity I first observed in Memphis. She met Roger years later while helping plan a 27th Lancers alumni event. I suppose for Roger the significant event was joining the 27th Lancers for a season in the late 1970s even though he lived 'just up the road' from Santa Clara's corps hall. The only explanation must be our passion for drum corps. That's the common denominator. But you know, stories such as ours are not uncommon once you've been around the activity for a while. Friends are a great treasure. (Stephanie): Agreed! Fanfare archives 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.

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