Going with the Flo for DCI

Mill Brook

July 27, 2023 Along the Mill Brook

Here, I sit on my deck along the Mill Brook. It is the middle of the DCI season, and I am left with only my computer to enjoy the shows before hitting the road for my auto tour. We received another saturating rain today. It cleared around 4:20 pm, so I headed out for my daily hike. This hike would be to the mid-station of Sugarbush Mount Ellen, my home mountain that towers over us at 4,083 feet. Ok, not quite as high as the Rockies, but we still have a lot of fun on the correct scale, i.e., doable for a late afternoon hike. I observed several upper mountain washouts from our consistent and almost daily rain storms. It is like a crap shoot for which valley will get hit the hardest next. So far, Mill Brook and its receiver, the Mad River, have been behaving and have only utilized the low-lying flood planes to relieve the deluge. Though my home and brookside deck are situated well above the brook, a rill runs down from above into the creek alongside the deck. This is the watercourse that I worry about, and clay slopes above the ravine that it descends through. The massive hemlock trees that hang precipitously above the ravine fall into it as the clay oozes out from their routes with heavy rains, undermining them. My concern is a landslide that will dam up the rill and set up a catastrophic situation. Let’s not dwell on that, but there is drum corps to write about.

The Mad River

While waiting for my August tour, my DCI streaming adventures have been more like ‘dreaming‘ adventures. Do you know how hard it is to watch the Blue Devils at 1:00 am here in the east? Seriously? If a focus group is being set up to advise on the best way to watch and hear Drum Corps other than flying, taking trains, or driving at breakneck speed across the landscape for several hours in my Volvo, count me in! 

Here are my criteria for the DCI streaming content service:

  • A multi-cam production that catches all the highlights and wow moments, balancing close-ups with overviews of drill patterns, essential depictions of the theme. The corps can provide a book with timelines and moments to catch. This may be daunting for sure, but it is worth the effort to improve.
  • Improved audio pick-up to balance the front ensemble sound with the field sound. 
  • The ability to stream the show during the 24 hours following the live performance.
  • Archives of the performances without gaps in the sound. It amazes me that the original writers, performers, and copyright owners are not more cooperative with such a great youth music education endeavor. 
  • No commercials before streaming content. I’ll pay a fee for the service without commercials between each clip or performance.

On the bright side, Flo radio is a nice bonus.

No rain, no rainbow.

July 30, 2023 – Mad River Valley, Vermont

Rain continues to charge our streams and saturate our soils while I endure my long absence from live DCI performances. Our neighbors in Montpelier are continuing their long, hard recovery from a devastating flood earlier this month. I have gotten in my daily hikes between the waves of showers and enjoyed evenings in front of my Mac and Bose system. These are the days that matter to gain the vertical. As I take to the road for DCI over the next two weeks, I will not have the same steep terrain to keep up with the forces of aging and beer. I am blessed with great options in the Mad River Valley, including my hill climb series of gravel road walks. In my town, most roads have the word Hill in the name, often named after the original hillside farmer at the top of the hill who laboriously moved all the stone to build fences. Views of the surrounding mountains compliment the journey as my lungs suck in the fresh, often odiferous air as the cows graze along the fence line. Three ski areas provide many mountain trails to ascend to the ridge of the Green Mountains. One of my favorites is the Troll Road up to Castlerock at Sugarbush. There are many inner sanctum variables at Mad River Glen, with frequent waterfalls in the headwaters of Mill Brook. We are so lucky!

Montpelier, VT Capitol Theatre sign: WE WILL BE BACK AFTER A SHORT INTERMISSION.

Kudos to Flo for the excellent coverage of the Southeast Championship. You have eased my critical stance with the excellent audio and visual production. I managed to maintain great focus and alertness throughout the later part of the show. It was helpful that it was in the east and did not go past my bedtime, and I took a nap earlier in the day. The multi-cam crew caught many important highlights, clearly taking my advice. However, I did not wait up for the scores, and this morning, I am trying not to be concerned with them. I will wait to see for myself in the coming days, beginning Thursday in Lawrence, MA, at the Boston Crusaders’ home show. This will be a head-to-head match with Carolina Crown. Scores only matter if you want to win. To me, these corps are all winners. Competition is a driver, however. I lamented to a friend that something so subjective, such as creative musical and visual performances, should come down to winning and losing. He replied, “Competition creates a vacuum-like effect, a sucking motion that draws everyone forward.” That is merit enough to keep pushing. But to what end? Captain Ahab was obsessed with winning the prize of the white whale that drove him and his crew across the globe because he was driven by revenge. It drove him to his perilous death. The DCI motivation is quite different. The toil and travel of the long journey through cornfields, desserts, forests, plains, and parking lots, these members strive because they are doing it together, 165 as one. They will keep pushing each other, striving together in the hot sun until the journey’s end. 

For now, I am here sitting along the Mill Brook. Only three more days and I will be shippin’ up to Boston to start my August DCI tour. My voyage is also an obsessive search of a prize. In the words of Captain Ahab, “All my means are sane, my motive and my object mad.”

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