Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers recorded a song together years ago. The name of the song was “You Can’t Make Old Friends.” No, you can’t, but there’s a great way to remember those old friends, honor them, maybe reconnect, or even make new-old friends who share your memories.
Indianapolis – August 11-13, 2022:
Drum Corps is alive and well. From my seat in Row 1 on about the 48-yard line, I turn around and look up to the top row where it meets the rooftop of Lucas Oil Stadium. I nearly need binoculars to see that far. Fans are packed in from top to bottom, goal line to goal line. When a corps such as the Troopers claws its way back into the top 12 after all the years of being outside looking in, the massive crowd roars in a way that confirms to the corps they have achieved something special. (more…)
Finally! Another full season, complete with scores, is in the books. I spent Thursday in my local theatre sparingly taking notes on my iPhone and emailing them to myself. “Big, Loud & Live” takes me back to my Boomer days of the live PBS broadcasts which I still have (reformatted for this century).
People who have followed drum corps for decades have seen significant changes in the activity and in the rules and logistics that govern competition. Most people who are passionate about the activity have – at one time or another – expressed strong opinions regarding scores and placements. Quite often, people have been displeased with the results. Admit it; most of us have disagreed with the outcomes of some competitions. (more…)
I was just 14 when I joined drum corps.
By 15, I was teaching three drill teams and one drum corps, our feeder corps, the St. Mary’s Crusaders. When I was teaching the three drill teams, my Dad used to drive me to practices and drop me off around the corner so nobody would know I wasn’t old enough to drive.
Every October, Somerville hosts the Honk Festival, a. series of parades and exhibitions featuring, “activist street bands.” Others have written in MMA that the marching arts were once all about, ”God and country,” and it appears that musical instruments and color guard equipment can also be put in the service of social justice and organic farming. The marching arts, like duct tape, have 1,001 uses.
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.
I once went out for beers with a friend named Bob, who served as a U.S. Army military policeman in the Vietnam war. He told me that he joined a V.F.W. post after discharge and that some of the World War II vets at the place made him feel as if he were personally responsible for losing Indochina to the communists. He said that the ribbing became especially intense in 1975 when Saigon fell, and the TV at the post showed images of helicopters lifting off the U.S. embassy roof with desperate refugees hanging on to the landing gear.
Among the aspects of the drum corps activity that have changed over the past five decades, it could be argued that the visual elements have been the most affected. The standards “back in the day” included marching in straight lines, wearing uniforms that matched exactly in color and style, and adhering to extremely stringent rules. Today’s visual programs have changed so much that many alumni claim it is “no longer drum corps.” Admittedly, some of the changes have diverged glaringly from the activity’s original roots. And yet, many of the same elements that made people “drum corps nuts” back in the day still exist today. (more…)
In Part 4A we discussed Rules and Judging. In this article, we will cover Attire.
For decades it was easy to identify a corps marching into a stadium from a simple glimpse of their uniforms. Until the late 1970s most corps wore uniforms that were a part of their signature. Many were classics worn for decades. A majority wore cadet style uniforms with shakos while others had roots derived from other styles. There were the military inspired (Troopers, Knights), scout influenced (Madison, Racine, St. Paul), ethnic (Caballeros, Kilties, Muchachos), police inspired (Bluecoats, PAL Cadets), and nautical (Stockton Commodores, IC Reveries).
Up until the late 1960s, the equipment permitted on the field was quite limited. Other than “legal” musical instruments, color guards carried flags, rifles, and sabers and rarely anything else in terms of equipment or props. If you fast forward to today, the contrast is stunning. In addition to a much wider range of guard equipment, almost every corps brings additional non-musical items onto the field. (more…)
Design/Movement – 20th Century
The early years of “marching and maneuvering” in drum corps involved parade formations and straight lines with heavy military influence. Marching behind the corps proper and executing “the manual of arms” were often the extent of contributions from color guards. Most maneuvers involved platoons and squads at tight intervals. Drum lines were largely pinned to the 50 yard line. Fast forward to this century, and what is presented on the field these days is very different from those original roots. (more…)