Drum Corps International's 40th anniversary was celebrated in 2012 with many special events the week of the DCI World Championships in Indianapolis. For many fans, one of the highlights of the year was Jersey Surf's 20th-place tribute to the gone-but-never-forgotten Bridgemen Drum and Bugle Corps. Surf's show was titled "Bridgemania: Celebrating the Legacy and Spirit of the Bridgemen," and with no doubt, it was one of the wackiest, purely fun productions ever put on the football field. As part of the corps' introduction, members stood still at the front of the field, facing backward in costumes made up of solid blue hats, jackets and slacks. A piano solo based on "Pure Imagination" from the soundtrack to 1971's "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" was played from the front ensemble. Over the solo was an audio track of a speech by the late Bridgemen show designer and DCI Hall of Fame member Bobby Hoffman, explaining his philosophy for creating a drum corps production. Starting off with comedic flair, the Jersey Surf drum major's cell phone rang while he was on the conductor's podium, and the startled leader took out a large, old-fashioned flip phone to learn his mother was calling him. Voiced by brass instructor Harrison Horowitz, the "mom" flustered the chagrined drum major by asking if he had packed enough underwear for tour, much to the delight of the audience members. When the announcer asked if the corps was ready to perform, all turned around to reveal shocking yellow vests, an homage to the Bridgemen's long, banana-colored uniform jackets. The corps also unveiled a yellow Bridgemen flag up front on the 50-yard line. Jersey Surf's opener was "In the Stone" from "I Am," the 1979 ninth album by Earth, Wind & Fire. The band was founded in 1971 and has spanned multiple musical styles, but is particularly known for its horn section, which makes the group so appropriate for drum corps. The song was played by the Bridgemen in 1980 and 1981, the former being the corps' most successful year with a third-place finish at the DCI World Championships. During the piece, Surf formed an outline of the Bayonne Bridge that has long served as the emblem of the Bridgemen. Next came Chuck Mangione's "Land of Make Believe," from his eighth album of the same name, released in 1973. Mangione is known as a flugelhorn player, composer, and bandleader. His "Feels So Good" is the all-time number one song on American smooth jazz stations. The Bridgemen first played the piece in 1976, the same year the corps introduced an entirely new style conceived by Bobby Hoffman. Surf's tuba players chilled out up front on barstools for the first half of the song, and as the mellophones played the melody, one horn player pulled back another from flirting with a color guard member, a visual gimmick borrowed from the Bridgemen of the 1980s. A Jersey Surf baritone played the familiar solo that was originally done on a soprano bugle in the Bridgemen's earlier shows. The piece ended with a brief recap of "In the Stone." Next was "Tell William," a tune based on Gioachino Rossini's "William Tell Overture" from his last of 39 operas. Bridgemen played the piece in 1973, 1974, 1976, 1977, and 1978, the latter years just as a brief tag at the end of its shows. Jersey Surf's intro to this section featured a giant colorful bird running across the field, because when it comes to the Bridgemen, why not? Rossini's work is well known as the theme music for the mid-century "Lone Ranger" radio and television series. The Lone Ranger would always gallop away on his trusty steed, Silver, yelling, "Hi-Yo, Sliver! Away!" The corps used this reference to portray a horse race as part of this section of its production. The traditional bugle call was performed on a synthesizer, but made to look like it was being played on a plastic trombone, which wasn't legal by DCI rules at the time. The call on the trombone was humorously answered with the horn line playing on 76 kazoos. As the race got underway, Jersey Surf's color guard members twirled rifles and flags atop and around 16 toy horses of various bright colors.
2012 Jersey Surf
Slowing things down, Jersey Surf next played "Pure Imagination," written by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley for the 1971 movie, "Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory." The song featured several members of the color guard performing with huge, stunningly beautiful sets of butterfly wings. The final selection was "Party Rock Anthem" by LMFAO, a dance-pop recording duo that started as an electro house band in Los Angeles. The song reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100 and was number one on four continents, remaining the number one song of all time in Australia. The corps went full electronica on the piece, which was chosen to represent a current style of music that if still around today, the Bridgemen very well may have played. During this section, a cymbal player dressed up as a DCI judge and walked around from section to section. He was so inspired by the dance—accented by the rhythmic sounds of thousands of big yellow clapper sticks that the corps issued to audience members—he threw down his tape recorder and joined in. At the DCI Eastern Classic in Allentown a week earlier, Jersey Surf added one more Bridgemen trademark—the iconic Bridgemen "faint." First introduced by the corps at the very end of its performance at the 1976 DCI World Championship Finals, the move was marked by performers falling to the ground as a punctuation mark on the end of the production.
2012 Jersey Surf
For this week only, you can save on the DVD that contains this complete Jersey Surf performance, along with all of the World Class corps on Volume II of the 2012 DCI World Championship DVD set.Buy the 2012 Vol. II World Championship DVD. (Available this week only for 20% off. Regular price: $35.95.) Discount DVD offer ends Monday, January 5, 2014.
Michael Boo was a member of the Cavaliers from 1975-1977. He has written about the drum corps activity for more than a quarter century and serves as a staff writer for various Drum Corps International projects. Boo has written for numerous other publications and has published an honors-winning book on the history of figure skating. As an accomplished composer, Boo holds a bachelor's degree in music education and a master's degree in music theory and composition. He resides in Chesterton, Ind.