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20,000 B.C. – The Early Man Invitational is held at a site in what is now Ukraine. The Cro-Magnon Cadets are a crowd favorite, playing prehistoric hits on conch shells.

Cro-Magnon Cadet

A Cro-Magnon Cadet

The Peking Men incorporate live saber tooth tigers into their program, which ends in tragedy when the big cats eat the percussion section. The Lascaux Troglodytes are more successful with trans-species innovation, fielding a color guard comprised of giant cave bears, who handle their equipment surprisingly well. The Invitational is exhibition-only; scores cannot be tabulated because numbers have not yet been invented.

A bear with a flag

A Lascaux Troglodytes color guard member

Traveling home from the show, a band of Neanderthal bone flute players, along with a horde of their fans, eat tainted mastodon burgers at a rest stop near the Danube. The species becomes extinct. 

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410 A.D. – Alaric the Visigoth, a king who has been a mercenary for the Roman empire, sacks Rome in a dispute involving overtime pay. He uses some of his loot to sponsor the Barbarian Open, which is won by the Vandals All-Boy Corps, who play horns made from human femurs and score a whopping XCVIII.IV. The Dark Ages begin.

Bone Trumpet

An instrument used by the Vandals All-Boys Corps

13th Century A.D. – During the Children’s Crusade, The Rhinelanders Drum and Clarion Corps gives an exhibition in Jerusalem, hoping to win the hearts and minds of the infidels who occupy the Holy Land. They are enslaved by the local pasha and forced to march in a perpetual parade around the city’s walls.

Medieval Clarion player

A member of the Rhinelanders Drum and Clarion Corps

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1683 A.D. – An army of the Ottoman Empire marches to Vienna and lays siege to the city, conducting psychological warfare by relentlessly making a din with  Zildjian© cymbals. King John of Poland leads a force to break the siege, and when the Ottomans flee, they leave behind a cache of coffee beans. The drinking of coffee is adopted in the West, giving us the means to keep Jim Wedge awake. 

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1972 A.D. – the first Drum Corps International finals is held in Whitewater, Wisconsin. Wackiness ensues.

Jim Wedge sleeping on the 27th Lancers' bus

Jim Wedge – Photo by the late M.J. Harry Heidelmark, photographer for Drum Corps World. Used with permission from Steven Vickers.


  • Featured Image: Ottoman Military Marching Band – Paul Thompson, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons;