Drum Corps International
Fanfare -- Remembering Bridgemen, part II

Fanfare -- Remembering Bridgemen, part II

by Drum Corps International

Remembering Bridgemen—Part TwoBy Michael BooIn 1978, Bridgemen successfully rebounded from the shock of the 1977 disqualification and came back to place fiftth at DCI World Finals. Of special notice on the Legacy Series DVDs is how it appeared the corps, during "Spanish Dreams," was going to turn around in a company front, after a steady build of the music, lay back and blow the faces off the audience. (Editor's note: You can purchase the Legacy DVD collection) Instead, the corps faked us out by casually advancing, swaying side-to-side, while lightly bopping to the laid-back melody. Such a fake-out was representative of the corps' continual effort to surprise us with the unexpected. Equally unexpected was the sudden, harsh interruption of the gentle chordal tone essay, "Hymn to the Last Whale," with the astoundingly blatant and brassy tag to "William Tell" brashly intruding upon the chorale.In 1979 (sixth place at DCI World Finals), Bridgemen unveiled its sheer lunacy to a delicious send up of the mind-numbing "The Gong Show" television program, a cultural phenomenon that made this year's "Anna Nicole Show" seem like a discussion of quantum mechanics by a group of nuclear physicists.In "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy," the corps spoofed a number of the show's acts; including my personal favorite, Gene, Gene, the Dancing Machine. (Think William "The Refrigerator" Perry doing the lambada on top a skateboard hurtling down the side of an erupting volcano. Trust me on this one.) Buy the DVD and see it for yourself. I believe that even detractors to the corps' lambasting of drum corps convention were wiping tears of hysteria off their face during this one. In 1980, the drum line won its first of three consecutive High Percussion trophies at DCI World Finals. The corps was a legitimate contender for the title, and ended just .55 from winning the whole thing, finishing a very tight third behind 27th Lancers and the champion, Blue Devils. After a definitive version of "Thunder and Blazes," the corps introduced the piece that could well be the corps' trademark, "In the Stone." Laid back, a bit insouciant -- the Alfred E. Newman musical equivalent of "What, me worry?" might be the one selection that said it all about Bridgemen.A return of "War Between the States," referred to as "Civil War Medley" the year before, was noted at times for the fact that history was rewritten at times during the corps' tour of the South, with the Confederacy at times winning the final battle. Always playing to the audience, the corps warmed up on the field to the University of Alabama fight song at Finals in Birmingham, Alabama, complete with a mock football game. However, the announcement of the corps' coming step-off inspired a big audience reaction that drowned out the warmup, as most were not expecting the musical bonus.The 1981 season (sixth place at DCI World Finals) was notable for the corps entering the field under a giant circus tent for a reprise of "Thunder and Blazes." Also notable was the "West Side Story" Medley, which sometimes saw the mock gun used to "shoot" Tony being "fired" at the same time as the timing gun used by the timing and penalties judge to stop execution judging. For those who don't remember the timing gun, yes, we used to do things that seem really silly today -- especially considering that it often went off in the middle of tender ballads.Though the corps placed eighth in 1982, the drum line won its third High Percussion trophy at DCI World Finals. The corps' yellow trenchcoats seemed custom made for the funky opener of "Shaft." In "Broadway Medley," the corps continued its act of not just playing the music of Broadway, but rather bringing the spirit of Broadway to the field. Unfortunately, 1983 was to be the last year that Bridgemen was to be seen in DCI World Finals. No one can forget the blindfold act of the drums during "Black Market Juggler," which is still reproduced on posters and other drum corps literature. The corps' 11th place finish was quite an accomplishment, as earlier in the season, the corps scored a low of 47.15, which remains the record low for a corps to score and still earn a spot in World Finals. The selection of "I Got It Bad And That Ain't Good" might have been a cautionary warning, one that not enough fans picked up on. I really miss the clown princes of drum corps. As I mentioned in a the column about the 1980 DCI South road trip, Bridgemen really were a state of mind, one difficult to explain to someone who had never seen the corps live. They created an attitude that thoroughly wrapped one inside its inspired lunacy.The corps changed what entertainment could be, bringing into competition a sense of humor that confused some old drum corps stalwarts, but invariably capturing new fans to themselves and the activity.The world could use Bridgemen today. But at least the corps still lives on DVD and in the hearts and minds of drum corps fans young and old that had the honor of witnessing the corps when it was still alive on the competition field.As mentioned in part one of this article, it doesn't seem possible that it's going on 20 years now since we've seen Bridgemen in DCI World Finals. Fortunately for the human soul, the good memories seem just like yesterday. Bridgemen aren't just a good memory. Rather, Bridgemen are many good memories. In this uncertain time of unstable world events that permeate our daily lives, we need to hold on to those memories.We need to remember Bridgemen, now more than ever.Do you have an unforgettable road trip memory? Please share it with us for consideration in a future "Fanfare" column.Send your contribution to Michael Boo at boomike@aol.com. Please put Road Trip in the Subject heading at the top of your e-mail.Please include your name, hometown, corps affiliation (if applicable) and years marching with or working with the corps (if applicable). No anonymous comments, please. We will credit you for your contribution.Happy memories!Sept. 27 column – Remembering Bridgemen, part I Sept. 20 column - The ultimate drum corps road trip Sept. 13 column - Remembering the Troopers? Jim Jones? 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 masters 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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