Drum Corps International
Loose ends 2003

Loose ends 2003

by Drum Corps International

OK, it's that time of year to sweep out the Fanfare storage bin and use some of the stories that I can't figure out how to extend into full columns.

Michael Boo
Denney Fifield aged out of the Blue Knights in 1989, the year Santa Clara Vanguard won the DCI World Championship with "Phantom of the Opera." He was helping a local high school marching band and ran into SCV director Gail Royer at a band show that Royer was judging. After the show, Denney went with his fianc?©e to congratulate Royer on the DCI Championship. Denney's fianc?©e mentioned she know a couple SCV marchers from five or six years earlier. When told who they were, Gail Royer remembered what instrument they played, and even remembered their parents, then regaled the two with stories about the two marchers. Denney mentions, "I know that with just a few short minutes of time with him, I'll never forget him. I can only imagine the admiration those kids who worked an entire summer or more have for him. He was an ambassador for the activity." Another ambassador for the activity has got to be Vir D Harrison. She's recently rediscovered the joy of drum corps after a 30-year absence, and from the sounds of it, she's hip with what's going on now. According to Vir, "Last night I attended Brass in the Grass, the Cascades' drum and bugle corps show at Huskie Stadium in Seattle. It was the first time I attended a show since the corps my son was involved with, the Thunderbirds Drum and Bugle Corps, folded in 1972. "It's amazing, the overall development of corps music and performance! However, you can take it from a woman with 70 years experience of watching drum and bugle corps shows, I do miss the military precision and the Sousa music. "I say 70 years because I was drum major of a VFW junior corps from 1934 through 1940. You have to have experienced the full history of drum and bugle corps to recognize the extreme change there has been. We used straight bugles. A few of the top class of corps had a limited number of bugles with one valve. Being able to use full range instruments that allow you to play anything has put this form of entertainment into an entirely new category. Not to mention the flags, dancers, rifles and sabres. I will have to get used to judging from a new set of scores. "I really did enjoy Brass in the Grass for what it was -- excellent music and performances of an entirely new sort of entertainment for me, like jumping from swing to rock 'n' roll. I will know next time what to expect and to judge it for what it is -- not as a 1940s or 1970s drum and bugle corps. That goes for my sister, daughter and niece, who also have been involved in drum and bugle corps in former years and who attended the program with me. "I am fascinated by all the Web sites available and expect to keep a closer watch on the drum and bugle corps activities." I didn't ask Vir her age, but you can do the math. Not only is she hip to what's going on today on the field, she also knows how to use the Internet, which is a wake-up call for all of us who had grandmas who stayed in touch with us via homemade cookies. While we're on the subject of web sites, Tony Rendleman remembers how the Phantom Regiment was one of the leaders of bringing drum corps news to the masses in Cyberville. "At the advent of drum corps on the Internet, Phantom Regiment was one of the leaders. This was mostly due to board of director members Tim and Dan Farrell. Together they operate Process Graphics in Rockford, Ill., and used to operate a Web development company called NetFX. The original PR website was quite popular, especially the message boards, albeit crude by today's standards." Over time, and through several revisions and prototypes, the Phantom Regiment's Web site evolved into the technological powerhouse it is today. Rendleman said, "One thing is for sure, drum corps fans want info and the inside scoop more than fans of many other activities fans out there. To me, the Web sites are the best way to get people interested in the corps before the season starts. Combine that with the opportunities to make money through online stores, donation campaigns, and such and a Web site may be the most lucrative activity a corps has, aside from member dues." Certainly, drum corps fans are interested in their favorite corps before the season starts, but nothing beats the grand finale culmination at the Drum Corps International World Championships. Jeff Ream recalls the Cavaliers playing "Over the Rainbow" for their victory concert at the end of the 2001 Finals. "The victory run ... goosebumps. The emotion from the field took over the crowd. As Jake raised his hands, the entire crowd went hush. No one spoke, no one even coughed. They sat there totally mesmerized. It was amazing, awe-inspiring even. Never before had I seen a victory concert performance have such a hold on an audience. It made you feel like for that minute or so that they played 'Rainbow,' all time stood still. When they were done, it was like waking up and realizing what was going on around you." Bruce Fausey has a similar memorable moment, from the 2002 Drum Corps International Southwestern Championship in San Antonio. "So, off steps the Blue Devils, and I can't help but think during the opener that for all of the hullabaloo they've received, they're not very loud. And it made me sad, considering the ear-piercing horn lines they've produced in the past. Now that they've got me completely fooled, they crank it up at the end of the 'I've Got Rhythm/Fascinating Rhythm' medley. "I -- and I mean this literally -- have never heard anything so loud in my life, period. It sounded like a microphone sitting too close to a loudspeaker -- nothing but distortion. I could see the horns leaning back and could see the drummers moving their arms, but I couldn't hear anything except a solid distortion noise. It wasn't until I got the CDs later in the summer that I could finally hear exactly what it was they were doing! I'll never forget that, and when the inevitable question comes up from other fans about who was the loudest, the 2002 Blue Devils will always be my quick answer." If I was to be asked the inevitable question about what is the weirdest thing I've heard about in drum corps, the following might be on my short list. Andrea Birbilis of the Racine Scouts marched with the Guardsmen in the years around 1980. She remembers a baseball game played in one of the rooms of the corps' banquet hotel. The "team members" were Dale Antoine (who went on to manage Sky Ryders), Greg Orwoll (who is Colts' director) and Cheryl Pesceone of the DCI front office. The implements of choice were a coconut and a shoe. I wisely chose to not ask any more questions about the event. One person who might possibly not find a game of coconut and show baseball all that weird is Jocelyne Doucet of the Bandettes, because she's been in a corps for so long that the rest of us have got to seem normal. Jocelyne started in the Bandettes' feeder corps at age 7, holding the corps banner in parades and playing baritone when she was age 9. "Drum corps is the greatest thing that's ever happened to me! I started at the age of 7 and am now 16, and I don't regret a minute of it! In 2000, I was going to quit, but I decided to go to one of the corps' rehearsals to see some friends I hadn't seen in a few months. I went and they had my contra there waiting for me. They knew I was a drum corps nut! "I sure will never ever forget the amazing people I've met and the great times. I'm hooked. I can't wait until this season starts (2003) to see what kind of obstacles I run into, and what memories I'll get to keep from this summer! "Drum corps has made me the person I am today. I don't know where I'd be without it...I'd probably be really shy and less opinionative. It's given me the chance to excel my talent, and I can't wait to continue in this path for a few more years!" To all who drum corps has helped make into the people you are today, Happy New Year. 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 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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