May 20, 2022
After a long winter here in Vermont, everything is turning green in the Green Mountain State. The skis are put away and it’s time to plan for my 2022 drum corps tour. Until I rediscovered drum corps in 2012 while surfing YouTube one cold winter day, I always lamented the end of ski season. Now, I have something as exciting to do each summer equal to my enjoyment of my wintertime passion. I am a ski bum and a drum corps fanatic. How convenient that these activities are on opposite seasons. Anticipation for the beginning of each of the opposing seasons is rife with excitement. This upcoming season is no exception as the return of drum corps last year in 2021 after the hiatus of 2020 was a harbinger of exciting things to come with a return to a full season of shows. What a great line up!
Several milestone anniversaries are being celebrated in 2022. This is the 100-year anniversary of the drum corps activity. It is the 50th anniversary of Drum Corp International (DCI), the sanctioning organization for the junior drum corps for participants 21 years and under, known as marching music’s major league. It is also the 50th anniversary of the publication dedicated to the activity – Drum Corp World. Fifty years ago, I graduated from high school and marched with my bother in the Grey Ghosts, a small central New York State corps that mostly marched in the local fireman’s field day parades. Our competitions were standstills next to the beer tent. The corps with the most applause won. My brother was the talented one, mastering Flight of the Bumble Bee in his junior year, and he loved going to the shows in Rochester to see the top corps compete. I was not as talented on the snare but loved to go with him and watch those who were. Alas, bother Danny passed on, I went to college and left drum corps behind. Now in my 10th anniversary of rediscovery I look forward to another great year of touring as an ardent fan. Finally, 2022 marks the fifth anniversary of my blog and sharing my stories in Drum Corps World.
The tour that I have lined up is very exciting, including and trip to California. Two years ago, I had been formulating my plans for the 2020 season with a trip to California for the first time to see the western corps compete at the early season shows. To my great disappointment, the season canceled and my “go west old man” idea fell through. This year, I am making the trip to visit an old friend in San Diego who I have not seen in decades. In the mid-seventies, we drove across the country in a Volkswagen bug with two other friends who remained. I returned east after a year and have not been back since, so this will be a nostalgic return. I have purchased two tickets to the first show of the season not knowing yet whether my friend would have any interest. It is always interesting to introduce the activity to a newbie but uncertain about how they may respond. Another trepidation that I have is that during our first phone call in years, we discovered that we have diverged in our political persuasions. I am hopeful that the experience will be harmonious. Music unites.
I also purchased a ticket to the show at the Rose Bowl and a third show in San Bernardino, before flying back east from LAX. I seriously considered making this a hop and skip that will include a stopover in Detroit to catch the DCI Premier show. Alas, my budget will not allow, so I hope to catch it in the theatre. Once back east, I will head to the Boston area for two shows and a celebration with BAC. Following that is the long month of July (alas) and only Flo Marching and YouTube to scratch my drum corps itch. A full scratching will ensue at NightBEAT in Winston-Salem, July 31, one of the best drum corps shows of season where I will be back at the 50. I have been making an annual trip to North Caroline each summer now to bask in the glow and love of the south. Carolina is still on my mind from last season’s special one-time performance of the Carolina Crown.
August is my favorite month. I have been making an annual pilgrimage to Allentown since 2012, the year that I rediscovered drum corps, for two nights of awesome entertainment. There is something magical about the J. Birney Crum Stadium that brings out the best in the corps. To see over twenty ensembles, perform outdoors over a two-day period is the highlight of the year for me. Then on to my final outdoor show of the season in Akron. The home show of the Bluecoats is another top show as it brings together an amazing line up of corps at the very top of their end of season form. The Bluecoats always entrain with an extended encore performance that will rip your face off. Indianapolis is the ultimate destination of my tour and the confluence of the entire drum corps community. One can imagine what the area was like 10,000 years ago as Paleoindian tribes congregated along the riverbanks dancing and beating drums. Today’s tribes come in coach busses and tractor trailers. I will arrive in the Silver Bullet, my Volvo.
But before all of that, I will have the special privilege of joining the Boston Crusaders (BAC) at spring training at Vermont’s Castleton University this month. This is the closest that drum corps comes to my home. Before BAC embarks on their tour, they will host the community for a special showing on Spartan Field. In 2019, the stadium was full of unsuspecting Vermonters who stood and applauded for over two minutes following the impressive show – Goliath. It was during the 2017 visit to Castleton, upon hearing the presentation by Ron Lambert, then BAC assistant director, that inspired me to run away with the corps that year. I had decided to create this blog to chronicle my experience volunteering for 23 days. That year I met publisher Steve Vickers, Drum Corps World, in Indianapolis who asked me to share each entry as a series – I Ran Away With the Drum Corps – in the online magazine during off season months.
So, let the games and celebrations begin! I will be there to chronicle this exciting full return to competitive youth drum corps and keep you posted along the Mill Brook.