by H. Worth Ake
The Senior World Championship circuit, Drum Corps Associates, has had an illustrious history of 32 consecutive years of international competitions, although no title show has yet been held outside the continental USA.
DCA was organized in 1962 at Scranton, Pennsylvania under the guidance of the late, great, Henry A. Mayer, and motivated continuously down through the years by many-time DCA president, Vince Bruni. Current circuit president Michael Petrone has inspired the continuing success of the circuit.
The first DCA championship, a six corps show at Milford, Connecticut, was held September 11, 1965 with Reading, Pennsylvania Buccaneers the champions and Connecticut Hurricanes runner-up. Two following title shows were at Bridgeport, Connecticut with Hurricanes winning the crown in 1967. These were the last title shows held in New England.
Three New England corps (Hurricanes, Malden, Massachusetts Princemen, and Providence, Rhode Island Matadors) have represented their area well, appearing 46 times at the 32 championships. Hurricanes continue to compete strongly as the DCA New England corps, since Matadors appeared last in 1987 and Princemen 1966.
Those New England drum corps fans who have not followed DCA fortunes recently will find the seniors have added strong new, innovative and colorful corps to the roster. Circuit members have progressed, developing a distinctive senior flavor to the new style drill and current music, some following long traditions, others beating new paths.
Some relative newcomers to DCA include Syracuse, New York Brigadiers, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania Westshoremen, Harrison, New Jersey Bushwackers, Rochester, New York Empire Statesmen and St. Paul-Minneapolis, Minnesota Brass. All these appeared at last year’s championship finals.
Brigadiers were active in ’60s and early ’70s before being out of DCA finalist circulation from 1972-1991, twenty years. They were a DCA finalist in 1992 and rose to fifth place last fall, showing a popular, fast-paced Cuban theme that one writer termed “the most colorful corps in DCA” last year.
Westshoremen, in DCA title shows only since 1977 but absent from finalist competition from 1984-87, won their first crown last fall while celebrating a golden anniversary in drum corps. A “Westshore Suite” powerful presentation took top percussion honors and tied for best general effect, featuring music such as “Blues in the Night” and “Carnival.”
Bushwackers came forward in 1982 and won six titles in the ensuing years, never below fourth place at the championships for the last 13 years. Working music from the successful Broadway show “Sunset Boulevard,” Bushwackers displayed beautiful visual and musical arrangements neatly tied into very effective sections.
Empire Statesmen had really fun shows for the audiences that were winners from their 1983 first title show appearance. They won two crowns in the last seven years and were never below third place. “Around the World” theme last season had the corps with very strong brass and drums working recognizable music.
Minnesota Brass made DCA finals in 1985, 1989, and annually since 1991. Last fall the Minnesota corps was also celebrating a golden anniversary, their and a Midwestern senior corps’ highest placement at DCA, seventh place, up from a prelim ninth. “Minnesota Jazz, Past and Present” was their theme.
Another relative new corps to DCA circles who only made finals in 1993 but are regularly competing in the eastern Pennsylvania area is the Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania Chieftains. The corps plays a variety of pleasant music and works eye-catching field drills, Chieftains were only DCA members to ever field motorcycles in their guard section.
Veteran DCA corps are still present. Hawthorne, New Jersey Caballeros continue their ever-popular Spanish-Latin theme, and boast eight crown and eleven runner-up spots in 31 appearances. Skyliners missed their first DCA finalist appearance in 32 years when they were cut last year, but they vow to return. New York Sunrisers and Pennsylvania Buccaneers annually present strong and entertaining shows. Sunrisers were last champions in 1988 and have won six crowns with three runner-up spots in 28 appearances, while Buccaneers were last at the throne room in 1980. They have four crowns and five number two spots in 30 finalist entries.
DCA keeps entertaining and drawing big title show crowds with their exemplary productions of popular drum corps.