July 5, 2022
Caffeine, cruise control, and rock n’ roll. That was the motto that I employed with my down-and-back trip to Lynn, MA, just outside the city of Boston for the Bean Pot Invitational, DCI show last Sunday. The Silver Bullet (my Volvo wagon) is getting a little tired at 100 thousand miles and she is running a little rough but I nursed her home. She is going in for a tune up before I hit the road later this month for my planned three thousand mile DCI tour. We met in 2018 in Wexford, PA while on tour. My other Volvo wagon decided have a transmission issue while heading from Pittsburgh to Akron at 1:00am. Providence brought us together at Bobby Rahal Volvo, just 6 minutes away from where I stopped. I nursed the old boy into their lot and slept in it for the last time. With amazing team work the next morning, this dealership assessed the problem and worked with me to purchase the Silver Bullet after determining the demise of the Grey Ghost. I explained my need to continue my tour and the purpose of supporting music education. Given my circumstances, they had me over a barrel, but treated me with great respect and worked with my on a good deal. My new certified pre-owned Volvo, $35,000. Getting to Akron on time for the Bluecoats home show, priceless. I completed my tour with safety, comfort, and confidence. This year, I have decided to drive to North Carolina instead of flying, extending my auto tour by a full week before arriving in Indy. Wish me luck.
Manning Field in Lynn is well-known for its drum and bugle corps history. The Boston Crusaders (BAC) are the perennial surviving corps from the greater Boston area and have a long legacy of performing top quality drum corps in the stadium. The area rivals back in the day have long since fallen by the wayside. That is not to say that their spirit is gone. It was alive and well in the stands and volunteers that organized this show – The Cardinal Drum Corps Alumni, and Northstar Drum and Bugle Corps. What a privilege to be in the upper section center with the old guard and the newbies who all enjoyed a great show. This is my third visit to Manning Field, formerly Manning Bowl, where I always enjoy the fish fry and parking lot merriment before the show.
This show, I would not be cruising the lot where all the corps are parked until after the show. Instead, I shared a cold beverage with folks from the car next to mine in the VIP lot and made more good friends with Jane and Gerry. They drove down from Casco, ME to watch their niece. It was their first show and she prepped them for the experience. The instantaneous connection was magic. “Hi, I’m Kevin. Would you like a cold beer?” It was 93 degrees in the mid-afternoon sun, but the Volvo hatch provided some welcome shade as I shared drum corps stories and we solved the world’s problems over a Focal Banger from Vermont’s Alchemist Brewery. Life is good!
Once again, I ran into many drum corps buddies that I have made over the years who support BAC. This family is extensive as the corps is one of the oldest at 82 years. This corps has ranked in the top 5 twice in DCI standings, their highest placement. Tonight, BAC was on its way to fulfilling its new motto: Becoming a Champion. They earned the top score for the evening of 74.750 out of a possible 100, ranking second overall in the standings just behind the Blue Devils who are touring out west. These two corps will come together for the first time in Broken Arrow, Texas later this month. The power of the BAC bass and percussion was evident from the first salvos. This is by far their best horn line assembled by the venerable, champion-seeking corps in 82 years. The percussion ensemble and battery were equal to the task of mastering their highly complex and demanding book with power and precision unequaled by any previous ensembles. With gigantic conical props for climbing and spinning, the world champion color guard dazzled us all with outrageous tosses and drills. They were all clearly on fire, inspired by the spirit of Manning Bowl, as they portrayed the passion and poignancy of their version of Milton’s Paradise Lost. The soft ending left me wanting more.
I truly enjoyed the first half of the show with two local open class corps: Spartans, Nashua, NH, and 7th Regiment, New London, CT. Opening with an exhibition performance – The Muchachos, Manchester, NH. Following intermission, the sun had set, the lights came on, and the Jersey Surf took the field with their colorful props and uniforms and performed a very fun show – Meet Me in Atlantic City. The color guard really stands out in contrast to the marching musicians for a nice visual effect. Stage left provided various horn ensembles a colorful backdrop to entertain us with their jazzy melodies. Interestingly, the best performance of open class by the Spartans, outscored JS by 1.5 points. Following next was The Cadets with their program Rear View Mirror, with a fifties motif and musical selections of Americana from past decades. Even older at 88, this corps is a 10-time world champion. I was very happy to see Ron Lambert at the helm of this austere, beloved corps in 2021 with the comeback of DCI, and the new organization to continue the long-lasting legacy of The Cadets. Ron was very gracious to me in 2017 as I volunteered for 23 days, while he led the Boston Crusaders to their top finish of 5th place with his quiet, yet inspiring leadership. The Cadets would score in second place this evening behind BAC, the same as the evening before in Quincy, MA.
Following the show and the retreat of the last BAC corps members from the field, I headed to the lot to hopefully see more friends before heading home to Vermont for the long month of July. BAC members were loading the props into the rental box truck, and instruments into their new equipment trailer. I had a chance to say hello to and congratulate Al, the head of transportation. He was inducted into the BAC hall of fame at the Backyard Bash, BAC reunion on Friday. This corps will travel tens of thousands of miles over the next six weeks over open highways and along busy urban streets to over 50 stadiums and campuses. I will meet up with them again on July 31 at NightBEAT, Winston-Salem, NC. This is where some of the finest corps come together in a great outdoor venue for some late-season spectacular competition. I will also meet up with some new-found friends from California with Pacific Crest. It will be interesting to see how their show has evolved since seeing them in the Rose Bowl last month. I may hook my wagon on their caravan through to Indy to help as needed. Until then, it’s time to enjoy some summertime merriment along the Mill Brook with frequent clicks on YouTube for some pirate DCI content. Thank you, rouge posters.