Here are two stories of corps fans providing valuable and appreciated services to drum corps members. If you have other such stories to contribute for a future "Fanfare" column, please send them to me at
Paul Collins is The Brass Shop repairman you see at many DCI shows. He contributed the following. A day on the road with The Brass Shop The Brass Shop was started as a hobby. It was in Hamilton, Ontario at DCI Canada that there was a major contra accident on the field. The accident created ten really banged up horns, and there was nowhere to get them repaired. After inquiring and finding this out, the thought hit me, "How about a mobile shop that would be able to take care of problems like that?" The same year, at the DCI World Championships in Kansas City, I asked corps director Gail Royer of Santa Clara Vanguard if he thought something like this would be feasible. He thought so but also wanted to know if I was crazy. Thus became The Brass Shop. We run from tour stop to tour stop for three to five weeks. In 2006, we are considering 42 shows in 53 days, the most I've ever tried. A typical day starts with a 6 a.m. breakfast, and then I start driving to the next stop, anywhere from 200 to 400 or more miles away. Most generally, the trips more than 450 miles are a two-day run. When arriving at the tour stop, I check into the hotel and head out to the venue to set up shop. The set-up takes about 45 minutes, starting around 3 or 4 p.m. as the early corps start arriving shortly thereafter. A typical show may have as few as five repairs to as many as 40 or more. There have been times that there might be 50 kids from numerous corps waiting for a repair, and unless I am near the show field I see very little of any shows. Typical repairs might be stuck slides, sticky valves, soldering or major repairs. Those major repairs are what I refer to as a "crash and burn," an unusable instrument. We get on it and do the best job possible to make the horn as presentable as possible. Eating, well, sometimes we set up the grill for a marinated steak or a brat or two. And sometimes there is no time to eat. I will say, however, that corps directors look after me. They will send someone with a plate—if needed—of whatever is the meal of the day and that is greatly appreciated.    I have found coins in horns that cause a rattle and drive the player crazy, and in a contra bass I have found a child's play car just big enough to get stuck in the bottom branch of the horn. The corps member told me the horn was fine the previous weekend and then it became stuffy and hard to play. I still have that little car around the shop. I also have a horn that was driven over by a truck—not on purpose—that belonged to a player. I hang out that flat horn (with a face on it) for conversation.    This is my 16th year on the road, and I still enjoy the corps and the kids. They are truly amazing and grateful. When I marched in a drum corps 1962 through 1984, it was not like today. Horns were fixed the best way possible, often with a drumstick, and tape was used to keep them together. When I started the business, I had the idea that every player, no matter what they were playing, should have an instrument as playable as possible. That way, they could perform as well as they possibly could, no matter what the level of competition.

Jean Cartwright from Novi, Mich. contributed the following about "goodie bags." It sounds like a great idea that more should pick up on. Goodie bags Our son was part of a Division III corps the summer after he graduated from high school in 2004. He marched all four years in high school and played all four years in a competitive winter drum line, so he kind of knew what was expected in going to a corps. He is about six feet tall and weighs about 140 pounds. I was told the kids could expect to lose weight on tour, but my son just didn't have anything to lose, so the goodie bags came about on my attempts to get my son to eat more. I brought my son's favorite cookies (butterscotch oatmeal) and a large bag of homemade Rice Krispies treats for the drum line bus to the Toledo show, the first show we went to that season. The kids were pretty happy to see treats. Next we saw them in Canton, Mich., and we brought two large trays for the entire corps, with watermelon, cantaloupe, grapes, strawberries and a goodie bag for my son. It was kind of small, and had beef jerky, nuts, raisins, Tootsie Roll pops, mints and other food. He said it was gone in two days. We drove down to Lima, Ohio with homemade blueberry muffins for the entire corps a week later. We got the tour director's permission to meet up with them in Chicago the following week to do two meals for them over the Fourth of July. At our own expense, we provided a complete spaghetti dinner before the show, and on the morning of the Fourth of July—before the parades—a hot breakfast of ham, hash browns and more muffins. We just didn't see any other parents volunteering to do any on-site cooking or traveling with the corps, and had heard that sometimes the staff had to do the cooking. In Kalamazoo, however, we had a huge turnout of family, and as many corps members were from an area nearby, another family hosted a pre-show lunch. We also brought dozens of bagels for them to take on the road. By the time we got to the Centerville, Ohio show, plenty of parents were bringing donations, and we were spending about $100 every time we went out to a show for food for the corps. We got to know the kids individually and knew their special treats. After that, the tour went south and we didn't see them again until Denver. Sometimes the tour kitchen would feed them and sometimes they were dropped off at the mall to check out the food court. Although my son didn't tour during the summer of 2005, we went to two big shows to visit all our friends and bring them goodie bags. I would label a large plastic bag with each kid's name on it and fill it with stuff like pistachios, raisins, granola bars, beef jerky, fruit snacks, Tic-Tacs, string cheese, peanut butter crackers, suckers, animal crackers—just about anything that wouldn't melt. I also put in a note or card saying how much I enjoyed the show and that I appreciated all the hard work it took to get there. Drum corps is definitely not for everyone, and the dedication to march and play amazes me. I hope the goodie bags bring a small joy into their time on the road.

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.