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On the Lighter Side

On the Lighter Side

Over thirty-five years ago a rag-tag group of old drum corps friends had a crazy idea, but then, what’s so different about that! We were all a little crazy back in the day, and the drum corps stories we could tell would probably fill volumes. This age-out bunch had different ideas, though. Dump truck caroling.

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The Scarecrow Chronicles

The Scarecrow Chronicles

Mars Free State, October 12, 2067

On a recent trip to Mars, I dropped in on Jim Wedge. We spoke at Wedge’s suite in the Emperor Bezos Home for Cranky Earthlings.

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How Jack Whalen Saved Me (and Three Others) from Going AWOL

How Jack Whalen Saved Me (and Three Others) from Going AWOL

By Jim “Mac” McKenzie

By 1968 Jack Whelan was already known nationwide as a potential Drum Corps Hall of Fame member. His years marching with the Lt Norman Prince “Princeman,” being a local and nationally known judge, M&M instructor of award-winning drill teams and drum corps, and owner of one of the most friendly personalities in the drum corps world, he was certainly a person I have been proud to know. I was fortunate to have Jack as my M&M instructor when I marched with St. Mary’s Cardinals in Beverly, MA.

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2021 Drum Corps East Review

2021 Drum Corps East Review

Allentown – August 7, 2021

Drum corps fans packed the stands at Birney Crum Stadium Saturday night under perfect weather. The wide range of age of those in attendance showed that drum corps is alive and well and sought after by fans of all ages. We drove a six hour round trip to view a show that spanned less than half that amount of time and I had my doubts as to whether the trip was going to be worth the effort. But I was rewarded many times over, finding myself declaring this or that “was worth the drive” following a certain horn or drum sequence.

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The Greatest

The Greatest

Should there be competition among the Arts? Easy decisions are made on the football field, baseball diamond or at the track meet tape. Whoever is fastest or scores more points wins. With Art, subjective minds decide what/who is best – usually for the rest of us. Is Citizen Kane the greatest film ever made? (more…)

Random Thoughts Inspired by an Old Photo

Random Thoughts Inspired by an Old Photo

The picture with this article is from my mother’s 1948 high school yearbook. The resolution is poor, but one can see that the corps uniforms resembled those of Salvation Army ladies and that the girls wore sensible shoes. I don’t know whether they were a competitive unit, or why they were all brunettes. Maybe the actress Jane Russell was big that year.

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‘Gio’…George Del Monte – My ‘BFAM’: Brother From Another Mother

‘Gio’…George Del Monte – My ‘BFAM’: Brother From Another Mother

George Del Monte: He was, in the truest sense of the term, a living legend. Educator, musician, playwright, and…most of all, a friend. Better yet, was our BFAM (Brother From Another Mother) relationship. Over the years, I’ve saved every piece of email that we shared, including those which he wrote in Italian, to encourage me to learn it better. After all, I am/was a Sicilian from Brooklyn (BklynMario).

Among drum and bugle corps people, there is a special place in heaven reserved only for them. Now George is also a member of that group.

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The Evolution of Drum Corps “Visuals” in Perspective – What, How and Why? (Part One)

The Evolution of Drum Corps “Visuals” in Perspective – What, How and Why? (Part One)

By Phil Dennesen with Jeff Sacktig

Can you remember seeing a Drum and Bugle Corps for the very first time? What are the visual images you can recall? Just think about it for a minute……….Can you remember where, when and how you were impressed by a Drum Corps and what you were thinking? I believe most of us can, it is one of those things you don’t ever forget, it leaves such a lasting impression.

For me, it was in 1959 in front of my childhood home across the street from the Central Cemetery in Beverly, MA. It was the Memorial Day Parade, and marching down the street were the St Mary’s Cardinals Drum & Bugle Corps.

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The Evolution of Drum Corps “Visuals” in Perspective – What, How and Why? (Part 2)

The Evolution of Drum Corps “Visuals” in Perspective – What, How and Why? (Part 2)

By Phil Dennesen with Jeff Sacktig

In Part One we covered Visuals in the “Golden Era” of Drum Corps

Part Two: Evolution from “The Golden Era” to Drum Corps today


In 1977, when Arthur Sacktig’s son Jeff was a boy of nine, he also joined his local parish corps. It was the same parish as his dad Arthur’s, St. Matthias in Ridgewood, Queens / Brooklyn, NYC. The Corps had been reformed in 1972 and named St. Matthias “Blue Max”.  Jeff was one of the seven siblings in his family, all of whom marched in Drum & Bugle Corps. From his father Arthur to all seven children, it was the “total” Drum Corps family. It must have been one very busy household.

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The Evolution of Drum Corps “Visuals” in Perspective – What, How and Why? (Part 3)

The Evolution of Drum Corps “Visuals” in Perspective – What, How and Why? (Part 3)

by Phil Dennesen with Jeff Sacktig

In Part One we covered Visuals in the “Golden Era” of Drum Corps.

In Part Two we covered Visual Evolution from “The Golden Era” to Drum Corps today.

Part Three – Visual Evolution of the “What, How and Why” of Today’s Drum & Bugle Corps

How did props come into the visual picture in current day Drum & Bugle Corps? When, where, how and why did they come into existence?

Back when the VFW had control of the activity, there were no props, There were no non-military type uniforms. This was not allowed! The first props and dramatic uniform changes towards costuming appeared to my knowledge in the 1971 season.

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