Drum Corps International
Memories of bus driving and bus drivers

Memories of bus driving and bus drivers

by Michael Boo

The following are thoughts from David Pressley. I have been exposed to several people in the activity who I've respected and enjoyed being around -- to the degree that I would hop on a bus and go on tour with them at anytime. Each of these folks has in some way contributed to my ideology of what drums corps ought to be about. My influential people include George Lindstrom from my Memphis and Blue Knights days, Jeff Bridges and Dean Musson from both my time around the Florida Wave and later the Colts (where I also really enjoyed being around Greg Orwoll and Chuck Naffier), and Scott Stewart, whom I spent parts of three seasons with in the twilight of his career with the Madison Scouts. Two others, going back to my Memphis Blues days, are Robin Wofford (< ahref=" https://dci.org/news/news.cfm?news_id=78b727bc-f531-4f00-b2c9-f978354b3883" class = "navlink">Drum Corps is So Much More Than a Score: Fanfare, March 18, 2005) and Floyd Stegall. Robin was one of the original Memphis drum majors who later became a high school band director. He is now a school librarian, proud parent of a Spirit guard member (Robin's wife is a Spirit alum) and until recently was the show coordinator for the Kennesaw, Ga., DCI show. Floyd found DCI just a few months too late to participate as a member, but he has logged many years as a Mr. Fixit, a driver, and a tour manager extraordinaire for a number of corps, including the Memphis Blues, Black Knights, Blue Knights, Florida Wave and Colts. I cannot count the number of times I've seen Floyd make a 30-year-old drum corps bus run (but only long enough to get it to a real mechanic) with bungee cord and duct tape. For the last six or eight years, Floyd has put his drum corps-honed experience to work driving luxury tour buses (yeah, the fancy ones) for musicians on tour. Among those he has driven for are Maynard Ferguson, Johnny Lang, Anne Murray, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, John Mellencamp and Tina Turner. Floyd continues to support drum corps, having sponsored tour fees for a half dozen or so kids from his home area of northern Alabama to march with the Colts, Madison Scouts, Southwind, Memphis Sound and Capitol Regiment. I would not be surprised to see him turn up as a corps tour manager again, once his current life of being on the road ten months a year grows old. I've been doing drum corps since 1983, having been a marcher with Memphis Blues, followed by a year marching with Blue Knights and one year on the support staff, four years (1986-1989) on the support staff of Florida Wave, seven years as a Colts bus driver, three driving for Madison and a 2003 member of Carolina Gold senior corps. For quite some time now and have had strange travel arrangements too numerous to remember. I think perhaps the strangest was the week before the Colts' Memorial Day Camp in 1993. Floyd was the Tour Manager for Colts at that time and he had hired me to drive a bus on tour that summer. I was a graduate student at the University of Maryland and was working by driving for the University Shuttle system -- a job I had applied for with the intention of putting my new skill to work with a drum corps. School had ended for the semester and I had driven from College Park, Md., to my hometown in western North Carolina for a few days to visit my folks. Everett, an old friend (on staff with the Sky Ryders) was passing through before Memorial Day to visit his parents in eastern North Carolina. He picked me up and drove me to Greensboro, N.C., where, after dinner in a Chinese restaurant, he dropped me off at the Amtrak station. I waited there for several hours until boarding the southbound Amtrak train at something like 1 a.m. After a night on the train I arrived in Birmingham, Ala., at about noon. I grabbed a cab over to the Greyhound station and caught a bus to Florence, Ala., where Floyd lives, leaving just minutes after I walked into the bus station. Sometime that afternoon, we pulled up at the Florence Greyhound depot and parked next to the other bus waiting there -- a 20-year-old GMAC 4905 owned by the Colts. That's right, Floyd picked me up in a Colts tour bus! The old Greyhound driver climbed out for a smoke and walked over to check out the Colts bus. He said something to the effect that he had started his career driving a bus like that and hadn't seen one in quite a long time. Floyd took me back to his place and allowed me to take a short nap. Then, at about 10 p.m., we drove the corps bus over to a local mall where we picked up about a dozen area kids that Floyd had recruited for the Colts. After the first pickup, we drove north overnight and through the next day, trading off the driving and stopping in a number of places as we headed towards Dubuque, Iowa, picking up Colts members at each stop. We finally rolled into Dubuque about 4 p.m. We stopped for supper and then drove 30 some kids over to the school where the Memorial Day camp was about to start. The entire journey had taken two and a half days and kicked off an entire summer of driving around Iowa and then the United States -- wherever the DCI tour winds blew us. That turned out to be one of the better drum corps summers I've ever spent. The unprecedented success on the Drum Corps Midwest tour and the unexpected 1993 top-12 finish in Jackson was followed by the triumphant return to Dubuque. I had several kids on my bus through the summer who were natives of the Dubuque area and whose parents had been members of the Colts in the 1960s and 1970s. The image of one kid bounding off the bus -- in order to be the first to show his finalist medal to his Colts alumni mother -- is one I'll never forget. 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.