As I sit here trying to keep my literary genius in at least moderate form, I have been reminded by my webmaster and my associate editor to keep this brief. They must have their reasons. I just do as I’m told.
We’re trying something different with the spring issue of MMA. We will publish new articles each week for the next several weeks.
This week, Brooklyn Mario pays tribute to Salvatore “Sonny” Calvagna and Our Lady of Loretto Knights in “Once Upon a Time… (A Preface)”.
Chuck Wilson prepares for the return of drum corps in “Let’s Get Ready”.
And Tad Faccini reflects on the difficulties of the past year in “Ramblings in the Age of Covid”.
Subscribers, watch your Saturday morning email for information on new articles – and thank you for reading Masters of the Marching Arts!
Many years ago I became friendly with a lady at Mission Drums whose name was Mildred. She was at the show with her two sisters, Phoebe and Henrietta and her brother, Phineas. I found Mildred to be an astute drum corps fan who fell in love with the Princemen and their legendary drum major, Scotty Chappell in 1946 at the VFW Nationals.
As she was much older than me, I started calling her Aunt Mildred which she got a kick out of and her sisters also became aunts and her brother an uncle. The only problem came when someone referred to me as her nephew. She became very agitated and stated that “Richard, (she never called me Rick), is not my nephew.” It was the only time I ever heard her raise her voice.
Jim Galvin is in Beverly, Massachusetts. What a surprise! At last count, Beverly didn’t have a single ski area. (more…)
The following is an excerpt from “The March on Massachusetts,” a history of Massachusetts Drum Corps from the mid 1920s to the present. It will be available in early ’97.
In the Beginning There Was a King
*In the beginning, there was a king and this king ruled over a young band of crusaders. They all went off to a great war and returned victorious, but not without having paid a great price. The king gathered his troops and they collectively became known as “Prince.”
The king was Arthur “Scotty” Chappell. His vision, creativity, compassion, inventiveness, and oh yes, talent, had the most profound impact on the direction that drum corps was to take, not just in Boston and Massachusetts, but indeed the entire world of the marching arts!
If you were at Memorial Hall in Plymouth last November 23rd, the answer to the titled question would be a resounding, “YES!”
It was a great indoor show featuring the Alumni Corps of Revere, Mighty St. Joe’s of Batavia, NY, the Hawthorne Caballeros, Racine Kilties, and the formally attired Crusaders Senior Corps with undoubtedly the top drumline of the night, under the direction of the ageless Al “Cisco” Colleameno.
On Saturday evening, August 31, 1996, Mr. Al Saia was inducted into The World Drum Corps Hall of Fame, founded in 1976. This is a most prestigious honor, as Al joins fellow New England corpsmen Scotty Chapell, Dom Bianculli, Earl Sturtze, Vinnie Ratford, Pepe Notaro, Alan Smyth, Tom Long, Darcy Davis, Dominic Del Ra, Joe McNaught, Ray Samora, Jack Whelan, Duke Ducharme, Ed Trainer, Cliff Fisher, Jim Pinette, Gerry Shellmer, and Gil Silva.
Al’s drum corps career had its start with the Sacred Heart Crusaders of Malden in 1937 and a life-long relationship began with Arthur “Scotty” Chappell, and the corps’ spiritual director, Father Sheehan. He started out in the horn line, but early on the powers-to-be spotted something special and he was promoted to drum major.
The national drum corps scene had a decided New England flair this past season in that several participants in several top corps have Massachusetts roots.
Amy Grelle, daughter of Frank and Elaine Grelle, is a 20-year-old Senior at Merrimac College, majoring in psychology, and she is a National Champion, having captured the title this past season while marching with the Phantom Regiment Drum and Bugle Corps, who tied the Blue Devils in Orlando at the D.C.I. World Games.
Gerry wasn’t like the other drummers and instructors. Hell, he wasn’t like anyone you ever met before, a unique, creative, intense and driven genius. He now resides in Wilmington, Delaware and his current passion is sailing. He screams at the waves, the seagulls, the sails, the sun, and anything else that amuses him.
New England has had more than its share of innovators going back to Chappell in the ’30s, ’40s, and ’50s and too many others to mention here, but along with Chappell and George Zingali, the visual giant, Gerry Shellmer changed the face of marching percussion for all time.