August 3, 2023 – Lawrence, Massachusetts.
Yay, I’m in the Boston area for a live DCI show tonight! Yesterday, I detailed the Silver Bullet, my aging Volvo XC70, and loaded it up for my two-week tour auto tour of Drum Corps International (DCI) competitions. First is the Boston Area Show in Lawrence, Massachusetts. The Boston Crusader will host a smallish show with only three other world-class corps, the Mandarins, Phantom Regiment, and Bluecoats, performing tonight. However, this will be a big night for BAC; a head-to-head match-up between last year’s co-silver medalist, the Bluecoats, could be determinative.
Leaving my slice of paradise along the Mill Brook in Vermont’s Mad River Valley on such a perfect summer day was not easy. Sitting in my fold-up chair with my feet in the brook, sipping a cold Heady Topper, was compelling compared to the miles of multi-lane mania ahead. But, the excitement about the miles of travel, fun with friends, and fantastic entertainment ahead got me out of the driveway. I chose the two-lane road of Route 100 to start my journey, but soon up over the Braintree/Northfield Range, I was on the concrete rat race Eisenhower 89. I took a leisurely pace, obeying the speed limit, allowing for a stress-free cruise as humanity whizzed to my left. I know this approach will change as I get along on my tour, and soon, I will be in the aggressive lane, clipping along at breakneck speed. How many more summers will I be able to do this DCI auto tour lark? This is my twelfth year since rediscovering the activity and the seventh since I Ran Away with the Drum Corps in 2017, the start of this blog.
I could not be happier with the performance of the Silver Bullet. This car has a storied past. You may recall that my 2008 Volvo broke down outside Pittsburgh while on tour in 2018. With the luck of the Irish, I was six minutes from Bobby Rahal Volvo in Wexford, so I nursed the car there at 1:00 am and slept in the lot. The next day, the team worked magic to get me to Akron with a suitable replacement, a certified pre-owned silver beauty. The dream continued until a fateful day on the way to the show in the Boston area early last summer when the engine began to complain roughly. The diagnosis was that the engine needed replacement, and due to Volvo’s integrity, they installed it under my extended warranty. In addition, the dealer provided me with a free brand-new Volvo for a loaner that I took on tour last year while they gave the bullet a new life. So, I was very happy to be in the good old boy as we both cruised at a grandfatherly pace here on the first leg of the journey. Indy or Bust!
2:00 pm – Veterans Memorial Stadium
When I arrived at Lawrence High School this morning, I dropped off some Cabot Seriously Sharp Cheddar to provision the corps. This allowed me to say hi to Rob, a volunteer I met during spring training. He is on a volunteer vacation with his wife and daughter from the Netherlands. The chance to work morning, noon, and night alongside others to feed and care for the other volunteers, staff, and one hundred and sixty-five kids with a very high-calorie demand is too good to pass up. I accomplished my mission to provide the corps with real cheese (not orange), so I made the rounds to say hello to some BAC staff. This is our first reunion since my Colorado adventure a month ago. Dr. Tucker was busy caring for the members, taping ankles, and dispensing vitamin I. The health and wellness of the members are paramount responsibilities of the caring adults who spend their summers on the road with them.
Now, it’s early afternoon, and I am in the park in front of the Veteran’s Memorial Stadium, distracted from writing by fellow drum corps enthusiasts sitting with me under the shade of a mature oak tree. Earlier, the drum line battery was in their section blocks, and then an ensemble warm-up and rehearsal of a showpiece with changes. Colin McNutt is fashioning a world-class percussion ensemble. Scores have been climbing yearly since 2017’s Wicked Games show when the new BAC drumline woke up DCI. Next, the brass arrived under partly cloudy skies, each section spread out across the park and went through the usual warm-up regimen. An airy breeze provides a comfortable temperature for the East Coast Showcase this mid-summer day.
After tonight’s show, I will head out toward Allentown for the first of two nights in the Birney Crum stadium. It is time to meet up with a good friend for dinner before the show. I will keep you posted from the road tomorrow.