Drum Corps International
Fun with drum corps recordings

Fun with drum corps recordings

by Drum Corps International

If you are really delayed in getting that drum corps someone special something special, you can't go wrong with drum corps recordings. By now, you'll miss the Christmas gift presentations, but hey, DCI CDs and DVDs are still great belated holiday stocking stuffers, for your friends and for yourself. Here are two stories about drum corps recordings that should bring a smile to your face during this joyous season. Bob Crow marched third bass drum for Sacramento Freelancers in 1985. He contributed the following. I have the greatest wife in the world, even though she never marched in a drum corps. Erin played flute in her high school marching band, and she has fond memories of it. But she never saw any drum corps performances, so she never turned into a drum corps nut. Her husband did. I'm the worst kind of drum corps nut, too. A one-year vet (come back, Sac!) with just enough experience to be very opinionated, but not enough to really hang with the big dogs. I always wanted to get a few more years under my belt, but college opened up other doors to me -- doors that I could not allow to close without passing through them -- so I didn't march in a drum corps again. But I kept watching. Boy, did I keep watching. I can't even tell you how many shows I've been to. I've never missed the DCI broadcast on TV, and I've been fortunate enough to go to a couple of DCI World Championships through the years. Since meeting my wife in 1998, she's gone to a couple of shows with me. Also, she doesn't mind my disappearing for half the night when a show is in town. But that's not the only thing that makes her so wonderful. My wife really loves to buy presents. She's very thoughtful about it, too. She always buys wonderful gifts that reflect both her personality and the tastes of the recipient. Being my wife, she always wants to get me a heartfelt gift full of romance, love and whimsy. But she doesn't. Instead, she buys me drum corps DVDs. Well, to be truthful, she always gives me a heartfelt gift full of romance, love, and whimsy -- plus the DVD. To date, I have all of the 1980s, some 2000s, and we just started on the 1990s. I've had a lot of strange flashbacks, watching the videos from my own "era." Faces of old friends who kept marching, sitting in the band room watching 1980 on VHS, friends I went to shows with 10 years ago. Of all the shows I've watched so far, there are two moments that really stick out for me. First is the 1982 Crossmen at 11 minutes, 21 seconds. I remember seeing that show on PBS one Saturday morning in my suburban Los Angeles home. I was hooked from the beginning of the broadcast, but the look on that cymbal player's face marks the exact moment that I knew I had to march. The other moment is the 2003 Phantom Regiment at 11 minutes, 55 seconds. The expression on the guard captain's face at the end of their show makes me wish I could march again. So it's Christmastime again, and despite the fact that the malls are full of things she would much rather buy for me, she knows how much I love drum corps, and she gets me a DVD. She even lets me have the big TV for the rest of the day so I can watch it. How did I ever get so lucky? Yeah, I know. I have to get her something good. Joe Wittert is a long-time drum corps fan. The following are his recollections, which he has titled, "The Virtuosos." The year was 1967, and after being introduced to drum corps via my friend Gregg Strand's recordings and attending a few 1966 Chicago-area shows, it was time, at the age of 16, for me to take a more active role. You're probably thinking this means I joined the Royal Airs or Cavaliers or Des Plaines Vanguard and went on to a stellar drum corps career. This is not that story -- far from it. Being bereft of any musical talent and lacking any courage to get out on the field and perform, my older brother Larry, Gregg and I found another outlet. We spotted an ad in a drum corps periodical, stating that the Northernaires from Alaska were disbanding and selling soprano bugles for $45. What an opportunity to show what we could do! A few weeks after putting up the $15 each, the package we had been waiting for arrived. There it was in all its glory (and small dent on the bell), our very own bugle! Of course, it bears little resemblance to today's bugles (trumpets). It was the old G-D bugle (the G-F bugle came later) with one valve on the inside front of the horn that was played with your thumb, and a small slide at the bottom. We couldn't wait to try it out! Who needs lessons or practice? We grabbed Gregg's tape recorder and our 1966 VFW Nationals records, which we had already memorized, and were set to begin. My brother wasn't home yet, but Gregg and I decided to each pick a corps to accompany and start taping. What was really funny was when were playing along with the recording, Gregg and I were in our own little world, thinking we sounded like star soloists for the corps. But on playback, it was awful! And that was being kind. Gregg could actually get most of a scale out of it, having had some clarinet training. I think I had a range of about three notes: low, medium, and high (actually slightly above medium). After laughing ourselves silly at how bad we were, the best was yet to come. My perfectionist, always straight-A student brother got home and couldn't wait to try his hand at it. Picking the Royal Airs to play with, Gregg and I were waiting with baited breath for one of the sweetest sounding solos in drum corps history in their exit, "The Shadow of Your Smile." It sounded like a monotone moose in heat. I don't think we ever laughed so hard in our lives, before or since. I think our bodies must have lost several gallons of water through our tear ducts. My brother, lost in the same virtuoso soloist world we were, wondered what was so funny. Upon playback he found out. First he had a look of shock, thinking, "That couldn't be me!" Then he went into hysterics, too. I still see that bugle in storage in my basement from time to time and can't keep a smile from crossing my face when I do. 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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