August 9, 2019
Well, yesterday was a whirlwind day of final travel leg to Indianapolis, restocking the cooler and checking into the hotel directly across from Lucas Oil Stadium the location three days of marching music’s major league world series. I decamped (such as it was sleeping in the car) from the Mounds State Park and streamed into the city on the concrete rivers with thousands of other metallic molecules, landing the Silver Bullet in its three day resting place, the parking lot. This is where I will tailgate and try to keep up with my writing for the next two days. In attendance for the Preliminary Finals on Thursday were corps from all over the country including some from across our borders. In drum corps, there are no walls except perhaps the props in some shows. This year is all about bridges. Music is a uniting force. Everywhere I turn while walking around the inside and outside of this massive 21st century stadium I see families, friends and fellow corps members all sharing the love of the activity in solidarity. Diversity is truly a strength, especially when it is portrayed on the field by today’s drum corps members where skin of all shades are revealed and they are all striving to achieve together.
I did not realize just how awesome it is to be so close to the marchers. Lucas Oil Stadium has a close set back to the playing field and being in row 13 within the 45’s is an awesome (truly awesome) place to experience the sound and emotion of the shows. In contrast to my seats in Akron where I was around row 60, there was nothing to miss about the intensity of every program on the field that day. The clean drills and tosses are just as dynamic and one is more intimately connected at this close range. Rifle and sabre tosses are electric flashes against the black sky created by the sound-absorbing curtain covering the entire opposite empty stadium seats. I waived to Steve, the publisher and other writers for Drum Corps World. What a privilege to be among them. There were tearful moments even early in the afternoon simply by being so privileged and humbled to be witness to it.
Earlier in the day, Sandy, and her friend Tammy and I went in search of Charles, my inspiratory friend from Carolina. Having found him ensconced in his comfortable RV, we completed or mission of pre-show merriment with hugs and toasts celebrating the life and spirit of drum corps at it’s final culmination for the summer. Sandy, the adopted sister of the Martin family is a retired DCI visual judge and a great drum corps companion to have. Thank you Sandy for all of those wonderful insights. The more drum corps evolves, I find the visual component to be more and more captivating. I sometimes find myself so focused on the color guard that I miss some of the amazing drill and speed of the performing horns and drums. There are times when there is a blend of guard and marcher, such as Phantom Regiment’s tricky, two-fisted trumpet and mellophone guard hand off. The guard members posing as horn players hand their horn to real horn player who alternates right and left hand licks on the respective horns while the posers (guard members in the marcher uniform) toss amazingly with rifles and sabres for as the show continues. One must pay attention or you will be tricked. Very clever. It is good to see them perform such a strong program, I Am Joan is holding up strong in the finals. As the evening progressed, each corps had a profound impact on those around me. To experience this much energy in one evening so close to the action requires fortitude and perhaps someone well-inured to the intensity. There are times that I find it has a hypnotic effect on me with some momentary nods and loss of focus. There are some shows that keep you riveted, never letting you go. For instance, the Boston Crusaders take you right to the edge with their late-season extended battle between David and Goliath, culminating in a gruesome display of victory by David. The crowd reaction around me made me feel like I was at the Flavian Amphitheatre rather than Lucas Oil Stadium.
I’m in downtown Indianapolis at the Brothers Bar and Grill enjoying a nice lunch and networking session of the DCI board consortium. This is the collective of drum corps enthusiasts and board members from the various corps who have been meeting formally and informally over the past few years. I am interloping, tagging along with a board member from the Boston Crusaders. I must say this corps is well represented by a variety of the board members that I have met also here. As one of the consortium members said, “This is where we leave the competition at the door with no discussion of numbers, scores or adjudication and we discuss the common problems and opportunities that we all share.” This is my kind of board. Tempting that it is for me, I will try not to entertain any thoughts about getting on a drum corps board. I have a history of getting too involved with my local community as it is, say nothing about traveling long distance to participate on some world-wide activity. I can say with confidence that the people in this room have the best interests of the kids and the activity as a whole in mind and it is in good hands if they continue to work together on those commonalities to make the activity better. “Be Better Here” is a brand statement of my wintertime employer, Sugarbush Ski Resort. We take that message internally as well as an external expression to our guest. This is a statement that I impose on all of us who participate in drum corps in whatever capacity. Let me know what you think. Meanwhile it is time for some more drum corps. I’ll keep you posted.