Rick Dees, the disc jockey for the national "Weekly Top 40" radio show, recently featured the Concord Blue Devils on his program. Dees segued from a song from the soundtrack for the hit movie "Drumline" into information about Drum Corps International. Dees called DCI performers "the masters of marching music," and pointed out that the Blue Devils are one of the finest units around. Then he played 10 seconds of the drum line playing a warm-up exercise and said,
"Everybody give it up for the Blue Devils!" Everyone in the Top 40 studio clapped and cheered. It was a surreal experience to hear a drum corps on the same show that typically features Britney Spears, Emimem and No Doubt. But it's becoming more common to see drum corps in the mainstream spotlight. Consider these recent headlines:
The Cadets perform at the summer Olympics A documentary on a Cadets drummer wins a top award at the NYU film festival The Cadets' drum line helps David Letterman with his Top 10 list The Jersey Surf drum line is featured in a Stomp! Movie "Blast!," the outgrowth of the Star of Indiana Drum and Bugle Corps, is a hit on Broadway, winning a Tony award What's next? U2 hiring The Cavaliers to back them up in concert? The national notoriety is amazing, given that drum corps started as small units scattered around the country. It's not too different from the growth of a sport like football. In 1921, the Green Bay Packers played their first game as a part of the National Football League in front of 6,000 people. The crowd had to chant to get the quarterback, Curly Lambeau, to throw a "forward" because forward passes were so rare back then. Now Brett
Favre and the team sell out every game with more than 70,000 tickets at the expanded Lambeau Field and have a season ticket waiting list that extends for years. It's hard to imagine that drum corps could ever reach the popularity that the NFL enjoys today. But, given recent events, it's hard to think it can't grow. The NFL probably didn't expect this type of popularity, either. It never hurts to be featured on national TV or radio broadcasts. The more people who have heard something about DCI -- even 10 seconds on the "Top 40" – the more who will be likely to check out a show or the PBS broadcast.
Chris Hollenback marched in the Madison Scouts drum line from 1991-97.