August 3, 2020
As I sit here along the Mill Brook, I am thinking about where I would be in my drum corps tour this year if it had not been for the dreaded Covid-19 that spoiled that parade. I would be in Allentown. Oh, how I miss the annual mecca of sound and sight at J. Birney Crum Stadium. It was the year 2012 that I reacquainted myself with drum corps by way of a YouTube exploration and found my way to Allentown. I had been thinking about the early 1970’s when my brother and I marched in small upstate New York corps and we attended as fans the top shows in Rochester. My brother was a soprano horn player and I was a snare drummer. He was clearly more talented and enthusiastic about the top corps. Unfortunately, Danny left us too soon in a motorcycle accident and I went to college and left drum corps behind. Curious about the current status of drum corps one winter day I decided to YouTube – drum and bugle corps – and up popped Blue Devils’ Space Chords. I was hooked like a large-mouth bass on a hula popper.
That year I discovered DCI, bought tickets to an early show in Fort Edward, New York, the closest to Vermont, where once again after a long 40-year hiatus, I witnessed the intensity and power of the sound and was completely dazzled by the movements. Being solo, the ticket seller got me a great seat at the fifty-yard line as high as the old stadium ascended, the epicenter of the intense stimulation. I found it odd that one corps – The Cadets was playing a Christmas theme in the summer, but it was really good. Following that night, I bought tickets to two nights competition in Allentown to be held later that season. I had been going back there ever since until this summer. I know that I am not alone in this loss in 2020 and remain hopeful for the future for DCI to come back strong in 2021.
The years of 2012 thru 2016 were solo tours with no special connection with any specific corps and I had not yet started this blog. In addition to my auto trips to Boston, Allentown, and other shows in PA, OH and the championships in Indianapolis, I have flown to attend shows in Detroit, Minneapolis, Atlanta and Winston-Salem. While on tour in 2016, I brought my bicycle and had many fine rides before each show on some really awesome bike paths across the mid-Atlantic states (a future blog retrospective). I activated my blog in 2017 and I Ran Away with the Drum Corps, touring 23 days with the Boston Crusaders. In 2018 I returned to the stadium with my perspective From the 50 yard line. Last season, I experienced that DCI = Love and Family as a key element in this very special cultural endeavor. These series of blog entries while on the road for the past three years were repurposed in Drum Corps World on-line magazine over the ten months of the off-season.
Alas, summer of 2020 with nowhere to go for drum corps, I decided to build on the an outcome of my tour last August. Perhaps you read about my discovery of the North Country National Scenic Trail (NCNST) while on tour traveling between Allentown PA and Akron, OH. I was back into running everyday and serendipitously came upon a trailhead in the Allegheny National Park where I met a local trail steward of the nation’s longest National Scenic Trail that extends through 8 northern border states from ND to VT. Wow!!
When I returned to VT after my drum corps tour, I researched the trail and decided to traverse the length of the proposed Vermont route that connects to the Appalachian Trail in Central Vermont that was recently added by congressional act. Thus, began my current odyssey and fascination with touring and writing about my NCNST adventures. The North Country Trail is a connected system of preexisting trails and new trail sections that extend through several communities in these 8 states: ND, MN, WI, MI, OH, PA, NY and VT. So, their slogan: “Your Adventure Starts Nearby” is very apt as the trail connects hundreds of communities with their surrounding natural and wild areas and culturally significant points. This summer, I am reacquainting myself with my native State of New York by visiting sections of the NCNST. So far I have met some awesome folks with the Adirondack Club (ADK), who are stewards of the trail through much of New York State. Of course I can’t help but share these stories by keeping you posted along the Mill Brook.
As much fun as I am having this summer with this new adventure, I cannot help but think about the future of drum corps in a post Covid-19 world. I really want to be back in Section R center, just above the row of judges in J. Birney Crum Stadium in Allentown again in 2021. I checked my auto tour route and the map of the NCNST and charted nineteen times that I crossed the trail last summer, so I know that my future drum corps tours will include healthy doses of the North Country National Scenic Trail. If you live in anyone of the 8 northern border states, start your adventure on the NCNST.