Going with the Flo for DCI

July 27, 2023 Along the Mill Brook

Here I sit on my deck along the Mill Brook. We received another saturating rain today. It cleared around 4:20, so I headed out for my daily hike. This one 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. So, too are our vulnerable slopes above my house. A rill runs down from above into the brook alongside the deck that looks directly down onto it from about 15 feet above. 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.

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? Seriously? Another hour sooner is not so easy for the rebroadcast for the several million of us on the east coast. If a focus group is being set up to advise on the best way to watch and hear drum corp 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 DCI streaming content service:

  1. Multi-cam producer that has researched the choreography and can direct cameras to the highlight moments. There’s nothing worse than watching a close-up of nothing while the cheers indicate a highlight missed or an overview drill pattern that is an essential depiction of the theme that is lost to the screen viewer. The corps can provide a book with timelines and moments to catch. This may be daunting for sure, but worth the effort to improve.
  2. Improved audio pick-up to balance the front ensemble sound with the field sound. I know this is even more complicated due to the enormous variance in the corps’ amplification systems, but the horns are often thin and lower in volume than the marimbas. Don’t get me wrong; I like marimbas.
  3. The ability to stream the show during the 24 hours following the live performance. Because I am a daytime recreational, I too often fall asleep before the end of the program and miss the top corps performance. I have some of my best moments watching pirated shows on YouTube during hours other than late evening.
  4. 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. What is the barrier, and who is responsible? DCI, FLO, the corps?
  5. No commercials. It irks me that I pay a fee for the service, then suffer through commercials between each clip or performance. Boo.

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

No rain, no rainbow. Daughter #3 hiking Mad River Glen with Dad.

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. 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. 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 farmer at the top of the hill. 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.

Kudos to Flo for the excellent coverage of the Southeast Championship. You have eased my critical stance with great audio and visual excellence production. I managed to maintain great focus and alertness throughout the later part of the show. 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, could come down to winning and losing. He replied, “Competition creates a vacuum-like effect that, sort of a sucking motion, 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.

Comments are closed.