I hate Covid-19. I hate it more than most. I think I had it in January ’20 – that weekend I sounded exactly like Barry White. As of this writing, Ohio – as well as most of the planet – has been mired in shut downs. Covid has been deemed a worldwide pandemic of epic panicking proportions. I don’t hate the virus as much as the reaction to it. I do have dear friends who are scared for their lives, and I respect their decisions to stay quarantined even after Ohio reopened restaurants. Remember the scene in “E.T.” when the government people raided Elliot’s house in those scarifying sterile getups? I’m pretty sure one of them was my server the other day.
However, this is not a health publication, but what we discuss has been affected terribly. There was no 2020 DCI season; I still can’t nail down exactly what DCI plans to do in 2021. (Then again, we don’t know if next month’s Academy Awards will resemble past ceremonies.)
Along came Phantom Regiment with the Announcement to End All Announcements. They’re going to rehash a program from 18 years ago. Reading and seeing reactions, one would have thought that Star, 27th Lancers, and the Bridgemen were all returning with 150 strong and a full-corps Anaheim Kingsmen were going to revisit their 1972 winner.
Two years ago, PR brought back some semblance of “Fire of Eternal Glory”; their 1993 rendition was voted (by me) as the greatest ballad ever done in DCI. I thought, “If you’re gonna do it again, make it better!” Swing and a huge miss. Fine, they supposedly solved that kerfluffle.
Their 2003 show isn’t one I call up as a favorite (’89, ’91, ’93 are, for the record), but does it matter? Will there be a Ford Field Big, Loud & Live show? San Antonio? Atlanta? Allentown?
The Summer Music Games have an exciting, full-throated 2-month build to them. Speculation abounds in June and early July until East meets West. Then sometimes we still don’t know what Lucas Oil Stadium will bring, even after the Buffalo TOC.
If there is no real competition in Indianapolis (just to be “safe”), what happens if the Blue Devils win in 2022 and 2023? Do they get an authentic threepeat? Do we say, “Well technically…” and put an asterisk next to them? Come to think of it, did the Cadets say that about the Cavies who needed a tie to make theirs happen?
During quarantine, I listened to lots of music to stay (relatively) sane. There have been many moments of “Why hasn’t a corps done this?” Currently, I’m being blown away by the music from the opera “Cold Mountain” written by my college chum Jennifer Higdon. There’s great stuff there! Since she was absolutely thrilled when the Boston Crusaders played her “Concerto” and “Blue Cathedral,” I’m sure DCI could attain the rights. I think Phantom, by taking a less fresh and creative angle, is hinting that there won’t be much of a 2021 season, if at all.
Of course, all corps have been scarred by the reaction to the pandemic. I wonder which corps have more of a “might have been” tale to tell.
I think of the Bluecoats and their glorious 2019 production. Even with their first trip into the 98s, they lost by a sliver (admittedly to a fantastic Blue Devils show). Could that have been motivational going into 2020? Of course, we never knew what their repertoire would have been (traditionally announced at the Ford Field press box by Dean Westman). It might have been the year that they won their first caption outside GE.
Would BD have returned with #20 in 2020? Maybe Carolina Crown was headed for title #2.
I think the corps to which everybody was paying attention was the Cadets. Barely competitive since 2015, they went through some tough years. It used to be that placing 4th was a rough year for them, and here they sit defending the ninth place spot. The management/staff pieces seemed to be falling into place before we were all wearing masks. Ms. Bonfiglio announced a return to the maroon and gold. That’s great news if they have someplace to wear them.
What of the non-finalists of 2019? Are they able to hold on? Pacific Crest was knocking on Saturday’s door. Spartans, Genesis, Legends, Gold: can they recover? What of possible resurgences of Spirit and Madison? We’ve still yet to see young ladies in the latter’s ranks. The Scouts were the first drum corps I ever saw. Back then, they were tearing it up, destroying the 2-time champion Garfield Cadets at Whitewater in mid-July. In 2019, they were sitting un-pretty in 17th – less than a point away from 19th.
It’s frustrating to think of what could have been – as well as having hindsight.
I hope and pray that all the corps – as well as DCI itself — come out on the other side of this. Too many businesses and livelihoods have been lost. Heck, I think I talked myself into looking forward to “Pachelbel’s Canon” and a snappy kick step.