August 11, 2021
From Akron to Zoar to Xenia Ohio; that was my planned travel route from eastern to western Ohio in the pursuit of great DCI music-in-motion for my wanting eyes and ears, and in pursuit of the North Country Trail for my legs and heart. Both are good for my soul. I have been so lucky with weather and other factors of my tour. Rain has not interfered with any of my outdoor shows or activities. The thunderstorms were timed just right. Siri has been very good to me this season. I’m not sure what I would do without her to guide me along my wandering way. She does have a tendency to put me where the most trucks are, so sometimes we have an argument until she recalibrates my way. However, she has saved my bacon more than once. Thank you, Siri.
I am sitting in a public park in with no one around. A great place to social distance and catch up with you on my travels and last night’s show at the Elks Stadium in Centerville, Ohio. It was perfect for drum corps. I purchased a ticket on-line just hours before and found a lone seat up high and in the middle of the stands. I was once again perched at the 45 amid the adoring drum corps fans, my peeps. Jenifer to my left was there with six other family members. In front of me was Sharon, the matriarch of the family and a founding member of the group that brought drum corps to town back in the mid-1980’s. I was privileged the become part of the family for the night. To my right was a handsome young man with his father. He started air-playing some of the snare parts, so I struck up a conversation with him. At 14, his plan is to join a winter drum line. I guessed that he was at least 16 based-upon his maturity and height, and his comprehension of the programs and the activity. We agreed that all of the drum lines were on fire last night. It was great to catch an acknowledgement with a wink and nod together as the kids on the field nailed their parts. He is focused and determined and has learned the rudiments. I hope to see him in his favorite DCI corps soon. I looked over at dad and nodded a proud acknowledgement for both of them. Behind every great kid are great parents.
The evenings line up included six corps again with no intermission. Cincinnati Tradition started us off with a colorful and musical presentation. The orange red and black contrasted will with the green field and the darkening blue sky. I continue to enjoy the musical arrangement and visual presentation of Music City. The determinedly-confident salute from the Spirit of Atlanta drum major foretold what was to come from the rest of the corps as they set the scene for what it is like with a complete horn line and ensemble. All heck broke out in the stands with the last three corps. The Cadets really nailed their show and the people in the stands let them know it. What and impact the energy and spirit that their drum major has on both the corps on the field, and the people in the stands. Next, Calvin took the driver’s seat and hit the gas pedal, leading the Boston Crusaders as they Zoomed across the field. This high energy show is complimented by an enlarged color guard. I believe if I am not mistaken that this show has the most rifle and sabre tosses in the history of DCI. I need to know that number. Though it was not flawless, BAC’s guard most certainly is the best and has the least drops per toss for sure. It was not time for me to witness another fine corps for the first time this year – The Cavaliers. The two pervious corps were hard acts to follow but the Cavies stepped up to the plate and dished it out. This was another great example of the intro-retrospective as they were in their traditional black and green complete with the Aussie hat and plumage, and they performed some classics with the 21st Century mashing and arranging. The boys really put on a show and they stayed to regale us with an extended encore performance. I have enjoyed the encores this year as each corps has had a chance to stand still and play their corps favorites that identifies and enhances their brand and esprit de corps.
My theme this year is continuing to be love and family. How blessed am I to have had the opportunity to be at five outstanding outdoor shows and met such a great group of folks that exemplify that. Music teacher, parents, aspiring kids, and matriarchs of the activity all have connected the DCI dots for me on my quest. Music is enduring, unifying, and inspiring. It takes all of us to be sure that no kid goes without the chance to experience music, dance and other performing and visual arts. There should be no barriers. Thank you, DCI family for doing your part. As fans we need to be sure that our community and schools are providing these important opportunities. If you have an old horn laying around not being used – donate it.
The road trip to arrive in Centerville just in time for the show was interesting and included a route less traveled. I chose Zoar, 25 minutes south of Akron, as a location to scout out the North Country Trail. It is the location in eastern Ohio of the junction of the NCT and the Buckeye Trail where the two co-joins for hundreds of miles before the NCT breaks north toward Michigan on its way to North Dakota through Wisconsin and Minnesota. The thunderstorms passed through earlier and I decided to walk a loop of the village and trails instead of riding my bike. In Ohio, much of the NCT/Buckeye Trail is on a former railroad or canal, perfect for cruising on the most efficient human-powered devise invented for traveling, so far – the bicycle. I would try and get in a ride in later this afternoon on the western leg of my journey. My walk was well-chosen as the NCT follows Main Street through Zoar. This is a walk back in time in a uniquely historic and well-preserved community. It is a living museum of early-American communal life of a German immigrant community who did not believe in war. I was able to walk to the Old County Road 82 Bridge that crosses the Tuscawaras River and the old Ohio and Erie Canal. The towpath is now a multi-use trail. I walked for about 30 minutes one way and returned to the old bridge and back to the village by way of the Zoar Wetlands Trail. The mosquitos were prevalent in swarms due to the amount of recent rain and the prime habitat along the canal and wetlands. The rumbling but distant thunder added to a moody reflection of the recent days including thoughts of the kids in the band, meeting old friends, and making new ones, hiking with Denali, the roads traveled, the music, the trails. Mostly how lucky I am, and what a privilege it is to be free to lark about.
Upon leaving Zoar on Siri’s directions, I quickly decided to avoid the interstates as much as possible. Much to her consternation, Siri finally relented with my choice for Route 36 West, leaving the rat race behind and cruising along the idyllic countryside of Central Ohio, for a while. However, it was not long before Siri directed me back onto the interstate system to take me around, thru, over, and under Columbus, finally spitting me out onto I71 South toward Cincinnati. Hold your lane, dude! Once again, the human pilot intervened and I took us all on a straight-line course zig-zagging across the flat, corn and soybean square-mile country roads to Xenia. Famished and thirsty, I called on Siri to direct me to a brew pub nearby. Bingo – The Devil Wind Brewery was right on the trail of my destination. Thank you, Siri. As one thing led to another, I decided to leave the bike in the car and return to Xenia on another day for that ride and headed to Centerville. I had no idea where I was going to stay last night. My itinerary was to camp out again, perhaps roll out the air mattress in the car. Lo and behold, I found a nice, secluded spot nearby the stadium where I stealthily slumbered following some great drum corps. Now it is time for that bike ride as today there is no show. I will keep you posted on the pedal later.