I would say that it has been about one year since you last heard from me. We are in for a little bit of a reintroduction. Let's get onto my drum corps "vitals." This upcoming season will be my seventh as a member. I spent the first five of those years as a member of Capital Sound, until the corps went inactive for a very brief period in late 2003. With four years of drum corps left, and a fervent desire to continue marching, I auditioned and earned a spot playing snare for Southwind. This will be my second year in that corps. My parents are both drum corps veterans, and in the Spring of 2004, I wrote an article in DCI Today chronicling the parallels between mine and my father's drum corps experiences. I have spent my entire life around this activity, attending my first show two months prior to my first birthday. Drum corps has come to define me. I had a wonderful experience with my new corps in 2004. Every year I have marched has done something to change how I look at drum corps as a performer, as an observer, and as a student. It is consistently changing, as there is always something new to talk about, even in the off-season.

Andy Dittrich with his new equipment.
The big news out of Southwind so far is our new endorsement deal with Conn-Selmer. For the very first time, Southwind will have its own horns and its own battery equipment, as well as some brand new front ensemble equipment. It has been a very exciting deal for the corps, and the new instruments are just one of the many benefits we will have from getting an endorsement deal like this one. Endorsements have become a HUGE part of drum corps today. There are endorsements for everything, especially in percussion. A corps will have a drum deal which includes a keyboard/front line deal, and a stick deal, which typically is associated with some signature stick (usually a signature snare stick). Then there is the drum head deal, and the cymbal deal. Some groups even have sponsors for very specific needs. Wind chime endorsements, and deals on Latin equipment, or just concert snare drums or tambourines. Now there are endorsements for uniforms, flags and shoes. Endorsements are great for both sides of the fence. Many drum corps, already faced with the difficulties of a summer of traveling, feeding 150 people, and every possible catastrophe that could occur, are set up very well when they do not have to worry about something so vital to a corps survival as things like instruments, flags, shoes, etc. Corps can now face rising gas prices, bus maintenance, volunteers and issues like that head on, with no concerns over the basics. The endorsers get some great publicity, and the finest performing groups in the world playing with their equipment. A raised awareness of their product to millions of people over a year's time makes it very much worth it for the company. An interesting note on this whole event: My Dad strapped on Ludwig/Musser equipment as a member of the Guardsmen. Maybe some stories on that another day. Now, if we could only get a gasoline endorsement, we would be all set.