Drum Corps International
Recap -- Eighty-three, part 4

Recap -- Eighty-three, part 4

by Drum Corps International

Read part 1 of "Eighty-three" Read part 2 of "Eighty-three" Read part 3 of "Eighty-three" Read part 4 of "Eighty-three" Read part 5 of "Eighty-three" After countless hours of winter practice in late 1982 and early 1983, the Cadets began a surprise run at the DCI trophy in 1983 almost as soon as the season started. Corps director George Hopkins had a simple axiom for the corps rehearsals as the season began: "Work hard!
Get it right." Eric Sabach: As marching members, we wanted to be different. Doing anything, playing anything, or even how we approached rehearsing, we wanted to do it better than anything before and with more dedication. I'd hate to say that we were a machine, because we were not. We were something more -- a tremendous synergy was taking place between all the staff, the members, the support crew, and the show. It was amazing and very special. It seemed like each rehearsal brought a greater expectation of what we needed to be and what we could become. We wanted to be cleaner, faster, louder, softer, subtle and genuine. I think the staff also knew that they had a corps of members that would never say, "We can't do ..." or "We're tired." We wanted more and they knew it. Michael Jones: We practiced so much that spring leading to the season. The "Mass" was a mass mess going into the first show. We just did what we were told because, yes, we knew there was something. Patrick Zampetti: The overriding concern was maximizing musical effect and raising the level of performance. We knew the show could win, but not without a lot of hard work. Jim Prime: The show performance situation entering the 1983 season had an optimistic slant. The corps was on top of its game at the start of the season. Withstanding some inevitable bumps in the road, the momentum generally continued through the early season, the big checkpoint show at Whitewater DCI Midwest, and into the closing few weeks.

The Garfield Cadets. Photo taken from the 1983 DCI program book.
At each contest that summer, the startling drill and breathtaking music wowed even the most seasoned drum corps veterans.^Wayne Downey: I first witnessed the 1983 Cadet show at the Manning Bowl in Lynn, Mass. (on June 11). I can vividly remember how awestruck I was with its newness and innovation both visually and musically. The velocity of the motion of the drill, combined with the complexity of George Zingali's visual design, augmented by the freshness of Jim Prime's arrangements, blew me away. I knew that night standing on the roof of Manning Bowl that the Cadets had set a new standard for the activity and that there was a new benchmark for excellence in design set for the activity by this young and very talented design team. Adolph DeGrauwe: I remember when they introduced that "snake-like" drill section (the Z-pull). They went backwards a lot. One guy fell, and it created a domino effect -- several people then fell. And they still won. They were the ones introducing that (fast-paced) drill. We were not in that category quite yet. Corps members agree that the turning point of the season was a series of shows in Wisconsin toward the end of the season. Johnny Sanchez: From a competitive standpoint, the show in Madison, Wis. (on July 29), which was the night before Whitewater, was huge. We were undefeated up to then and pretty much unchallenged competitively. That night we saw the Blue Devils and Santa Clara for the first time. Winning that show made us legitimate contenders. It was very exciting. Brian Wilkie, Sr.: Our focus and new philosophy on competition would not be truly tested until our first meeting with the Blue Devils at DCI Midwest prelims in Whitewater, Wis. (on July 30). Competitively, the Blue Devils were determined to put us in our place, tired (I'm sure) of spending the entire summer to this point hearing and reading about us every week in Drum Corps World. As our gate time approached, which was just before theirs, we walked leisurely as we always did, single file, toward the "business end" of Warhawk Stadium. The stroll from our brass warmup, around one of the campus buildings, unfortunately, took us right into the Blue Devils' brass warmup. As we quietly walked behind their horseshoe, they suddenly stopped playing. All at once, they collectively turned around to face our column -- and screamed at the top of their lungs directly at us in an apparent attempt to psyche us out. All I could think of at that point was "George is right. Focus on what WE can control. Right now, they're not." Patrick Zampetti: As we walked by, they did their best to intimidate us with lots of growling sounds and menacing body language. We countered this aggression by imitating the Monty Python characters when they come up against the killer bunny rabbit in the "Holy Grail" movie, yelling, "Run away, run away!" in our best English accents as we scampered away in mock fear. Scott Litzenberg: We knew they were worried when they acted like that! Brian Wilkie, Sr.: We had a nice chuckle and just kept strolling by. It honestly helped relax us. I think it infuriated them that we didn't react at all. "Win-at-all-cost" was gone. The new philosophy was sound and our focus was true. And we won both prelims and finals that day, by a substantial margin for a championship show.
Clearly prelims and finals (in Whitewater) stand out. Prelims because we were beaten by Santa Clara and tied by the Blue Devils and were able to bounce back and finals because of the sense of affirmation in completing an amazing journey together. Michael Jones: I will never forget DCI Midwest prelims for as long as I live. We went on earlier than the heavies -- Santa Clara Vanguard, Blue Devils, Phantom Regiment, Madison Scouts, everybody. We were the freshmen. The feeling of being in that dorm when we realized we won was like no other. I was so happy for all the older Cadets who came from not making finals like four years or so prior to whipping everybody and leaving them dumbfounded. Behind the scenes, the members of the Cadets' staff were battling other issues. George Hopkins: We were working to stay alive. We had no truck, we did not eat well, and we were out of money. Some relief came from an unexpected source. Brian Wilkie, Sr.: (After Whitewater) We found ourselves in the middle of a food shortage, at the Canadian border waiting for the rest of our caravan to pass through. The peanuts-and-raisins dinner didn't quite cut it after the evening's performance, and hunger is much worse at midnight. After 20 minutes or so of waiting, another corps' buses pulled up along side of us. It was the Blue Devils. Somehow they had found out we were foodless. And then something truly wonderful happened. Out of the darkness, arms started to reach out of bus windows, across the divide, each hand holding a paper plate of the most amazing beef stroganoff any of us had ever had. Nothing was said or needed to be said, except "Thank yous" from a grateful bunch of kids. From that moment on, 20 years ago, not only have the Blue Devils and Cadets had a mutual respect for each other, but a real friendship. That was 1983 for me. Learning about ourselves and others and expanding horizons -- on and off the field. Back on the field, audience reaction to the Cadets' show was strong. As the summer continued, crowds began chanting "East! East! East!" at the conclusion of the Cadets' shows. Scott Litzenberg: Chants of "East! East! East!" started very early in the summer. Michael Jones: There was definitely magic in the air. Patrick Zampetti: I'm sure some "old school" drum corps fans were put off (by the new nature of this show). I think that almost everyone came around eventually. Part of it was the fact that this "champagne corps on a beer budget" was on the verge of winning a World Championship. A lot of excitement came from the East vs. West thing. You can clearly hear the "East, East, East" chants on the recording. George Zingali said that we were going to be so good that the crowd would be "throwing babies" onto the field. The support of our fans helped give us the energy to perform the way we did. George Hopkins: They reacted to and appreciated the visual. This was nothing they had ever seen before -- and we did it well. As it became clear we could win, there was a push. The "East!" chants started. People were wanting for a corps from the first coast to be successful. Johnny Sanchez: I am an avid reader of Drum Corps World and followed the summer of 1983 through that paper. The reviews from DCW and from the audiences at shows were amazing. It seemed that people understood that the activity was changing in front of their eyes, literally. There were some criticisms, but that's the nature of competition. I have gone through few summers with equal success from an editorial point of view. It felt like people were really cheering us on to the championship. On Tuesday, we'll go to Miami's Orange Bowl for the Garfield Cadets' run at finals week in 1983. Purchase the 1983 "Legacy Collection" DVD, which includes the entire Garfield Cadets' 1983 performance. Cast of Characters: Greg Cesario – Cadets' dance choreographer in 1983; still a drill designer Michael Cesario – Cadets' program coordinator in 1983; now a uniform designer and college professor Al Chez – Cadets' brass technician in 1983; now trumpeter on "The Late Show with David Letterman" Adolph DeGrauwe – Director of the Cavaliers in 1983; now a businessman in Chicago Wayne Downey – Brass arranger for the Blue Devils; has taught and arranged for that corps since 1973 George Hopkins – director of the Cadets in 1983; still that corps' director Michael Jones – Garfield tenor player in 1983; now a designer for the architectural division in a New York hospital Scott Litzenberg – Cadets' timpani player in 1983; now a band director and a member of the DCI contest crew Mike Moxley – Blue Devils' designer and instructor in 1983; would become Blue Devils' executive director in 1984; now a stockbroker in San Francisco Jim Prime – Brass arranger for 1983 Cadets; still a drum corps brass arranger Eric Sabach -- Garfield Cadet baritone player, 1981-1984; currently a DCI judge. Johnny Sanchez – Garfield Cadet baritone player in 1983; currently Phantom Regiment's drill designer Marc Sylvester – Cadets instructor in 1983; will design the Cadets' 2004 show Brian Wilkie, Sr. – Garfield Cadets' lead soprano player in 1983; now assistant band director at Southern Regional High School in New Jersey Patrick Zampetti – Cadets snare tech in 1983; founded Studio Z architecture firm in Richmond, Va. George Zingali – Cadets drill designer in 1983; died in 1992