August 3, 2019
“This mouthpiece is like a [deleted] flame thrower.” – Donny Allen, trumpeter, educator. I’m sitting in Allentown, PA with brother Garry and friend Donny. It is 2:00pm and we are in anticipation of night two of the Mecca of drum corps. Donny is trying out different mouthpieces in the park (ing lot) behind the Ham-Fam Restaurant a block away from J. Birney Crum Stadium on his trumpet. He is a drum corps legend from the central New York in the 70’s and now he is a dedicated horn instructor for the local schools in Corning, NY. What a privilege to be hanging with this man that is such an important link between the past and the future of brass performance. He loved the show last night from the epicenter of fandom at Crum, bumping shoulders and fists with me throughout the night’s performances. It was a night of blues, you know the Blue Knights, Blue Stars, Blue Devils and Bluecoats, all of them performing after a weather-delayed intermission. Thankfully Mother Nature did not intervene again in what was a spectacular night in Allentown. Go Blueoo! BTW, I love all of the corps and each one in performance was very entertaining and worthy of the appreciation they received from those around me at the high 50-yard line. It is such a treat to see them all in late-season form.
Earlier today, Garry, Donny and I went to visit the housing site of the Boston Crusaders. There I was able to connect with Jack, who let me know that everyone appreciated the donation of the Cabot Seriously Sharp singles. Thanks to my friends at Cabot Creamery in Waitsfield, Vermont, I was able to procure a fine donation for the corps’ snack the night of their home show in Lawrence on August first. I love that the cows that dot the fields of our beautiful Mad River Valley in Vermont are a small source of nourishment for the mighty corps of Giants, or is that giant slayers. It was great to check in with some of my favorite drum corps caretakers and instructors again. The show, Goliath had become a crowd favorite. What an entertaining show, Goliath, and the kids are loving it! Tonight they are on last at Allentown. Now it is time to walk along Cedar Creek Park to become immersed in the spirit of drum and bugle corps, watching and listening to the dozens of entourages disembark and prepare for a night of entertainment in the Birney.
August 5, 2019
Today is the last day of the regular season of DCI. I am sitting at a picnic table at Beaver Meadows Pond in the Allegheny National Forest in western PA. Yesterday, I arrived here after that necessary push west in the Volvo from Allentown. Route 80 on a Sunday was not bad, but I am glad to be away from the concrete tangle and sitting in this idyllic setting surrounded only by what mother nature provides. When I arrived yesterday, I enjoyed a nice 3-mile loop run around the pond on a rather primitive trail. This morning, I am drinking in the delicious air of this mature summer day, catching up on my writing. There is no indication that it is a Monday. The seclusion of the forest was a welcome location for the casa de Volvo stay-over and this picnic table is the ultimate outdoor workstation. Unfortunately, there is no internet connection here so I will search out a laundry mat in town and get this material posted soon. Meanwhile let me catch you up in situ.
Scores are not everything, although in drum corps, it is hard to ignore the importance of ranking and aspirations on the minds of those connected with the activity. Fan favorites are clearly evident from the 50. I have had the pleasure of being in the best seats in the house on all of the shows that I have attended. Though I do not profess to know much about scoring or anything else, I do know what I like and I am able to judge the response of those around me. It is when the final scores do not necessarily match up with the crowd favorite that it can be difficult. It is also difficult if you are caught up in one or more corps for whatever reason, you get tainted in your own subjective slant. Forgive me for treading on this area but I wish to imply that it does not matter so much. Each and every kid out there has worked hard to be his or her best all summer long and every one of them is a winner. Allentown day two was equally awesome from start to finish. Every corps that evening put on a winning performance.