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The Sound Machine Archive Presents
2003 Drum Corps International
Show Reviews
As posted to R.A.M.D. and submitted to Sound Machine

Page Three of Reviews

Listed are the dates and the show site, the reviews will be filled in, if and when they are available or submitted.  The following reviews are solely the opinion of the reviewers.  If you disagree with any comments, feel free to email the author, all reviews are signed with an email address.  If you want to add your review to this page, send any reviews, comments or questions to:
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Wednesday July 2

Woodburn, OR (DCI Pacific)

I know that some of you are eager to hear about shows out here on the west coast, so here goes.

After Teri (my fiance) got home from work we picked up her parents and drove to the show. Arrived around 6:30pm and could see that the stadium was already packed. Luckily we found a parking spot behind my old roommate from BD, who happened to follow us to the show after he found us on I-5 south. General admission - sold out. All was left was standing room only (along the track) and a few reserved. Ok fine, $60 paid. Luckily, it was worth it.

Our seats were 5th row up on the right hand 30 facing the field. I was against the metal barrier of the stadium. Same cheesy announcer as many years prior and this year he not only flubbed some words straight from the program, but his mic went out countless times. Oy.

So after the national anthem sung by some guy, the announcer made everyone recite the pledge of allegiance, same as last year. I guess that's fine. It didn't bug me so much this year as it did last year, when it felt like a big 'well the cadets are doing it, we should too' type deal.

Weather - clear skies, light breeze, stands were packed full of people of all ages including many senior citizens who have supported this show for years. Let's go!

(Note - Please don't trash me for what I say in this review, I just call it like I see it)

7:15-ish, Oregon Crusaders take the field.
The corps is a bit larger than last year, but facing the same problems as before. Horn book is too difficult for the drill demand, which they pull off nicely I should say. Drumline was energetic. Hope to see this corps grow in the manner that Mandarins and Cascades have done recently. Pros: Drumline, Drill, Pit. Cons: Small guard, hornline's music too difficult, out of tune, overblowing, not pleasing to the ears.

Next up, BD 'B'
Obviously a bigger corps than Div III OC, but facing similar problems. Hornline is not as strong as I've seen in the past from BDB, and is undersized. Drumline outshines everyone here. Enjoyed the familiar tunes of Metheny. Don't remember much about the drill, luckily I can see them again tonight in Vancouver up high. New corps unis are clean looking but not 'strong'. Guess that's all I can say about them, I'm not a Cesario uni fan. BDB kids that read or post on the forum, keep up the good work, proud of you! Pros: Drumline, Pit. Cons: Visual impact, hornline not equal strenght to the drumline.

Next up, SCV Cadets
Wow. These guys may not win the Div II title in August (are they going to Orlando?) but they carry that aura of being bad ass. A bigger corps than BDB, they still have balance problems between horns and drums. I noticed that both DM's conduct and march euph/bari. As long as the DM doesn't have a different uniform top I guess I'm cool with that. I've seen bands that do that and the DM sticks out like a sore thumb with a totally different uni. Enjoyed hearing music of 70's Vanguard, but wished the trumpets could hit the high notes. Pros: Very strong drumline, EXCELLENT PIT, visual technique. Cons: hornline still not able to keep up musically.

30 minute intermission. I guess it's ok, time to stretch and allow for the sun to go down.

Troopers up next.
Announcer talks about how he's been begging for this corps to come to the PacNW for ages. Said that the last time they were here was 1974? Year I was born. Wow.
I've never been a huge fan of the Troopers, mainly due to the music genre they're stuck in. But tonight I enjoyed it - maybe I just wanted music I could recognize, or a hornline that sounded in tune. They have some nice visual moments, usage of much of the field, a decent hornline and drumline balance. Looks like new unis too? Not sure, they look different to me but it's been years since I've seen them perform. Pros: Hornline finally up to par with drumline, good visual performance to fit the music. Cons: Drum major doesn't have a big sword and needs to beef up so he looks like he can kick someone's butt.

Up next, Seattle Cascades.
Holy ####! Ok, I thought these guys were great last year, I think they will improve on their 12th place status if they keep this up. Love the unis, as usual. Drumline seems to be as talented as last year but more experienced. Hornline smokes. Mellophones - dare I say it - are better than BD's mellos and have a ton of notes. Couldn't hear the baritones like last year but could have been because of my seating location. LOVED the music, especially the fact that they played El Salon Mexico which is something I played in Marauders 93 (also by Carolina Crown that year too, I think?). Guard had better unis than last year's hot pink and black. Only drawback I could see was lack of visual impact during drum solo - hope that changes. Pros: Smoking hornline (mellos rule), uses the whole field for drill, drumline not bad either. Excellent pit. Cons: Fix drill difficulty during drum solo.

Finally BD was up.
First thing - guard outfits much better than 02, which I disliked very much. Show starts off with snare soloist, then a couple duets, and finally the line gets together with the tenors and bass drums. Hornline has backs to the audience for quite a long time, maybe too long. But when they finally turn they let loose. Soloists are smokin, love the ballad piece from Scouts 95, drum rack used nicely, though all you can really hear are the cymbals. One of the four tenor drummers took a bad spill (ala, Magic tenor guy 2002) and almost took out the rest of his line. Luckily he didn't and wasn't seriously hurt. Nice harmon mute on the trumpet soloist. Teri enjoyed the West Side Story bits inserted into the last half of the show. Guard chant / full corps chant - ok, I didn't enjoy SCV's "New Era" (what are they saying???), Cavs "1,2,3,4" I liked (because they yelled it and it fit the drill and tempo), BD's chant - hope they lose it. I was in the 5th row and can't understand what they're saying, I know it's scat singing. Just doesn't do anything for me. People in the upper decks of Orlando won't hear it at all unless they yell it. This show also features the return of trumpet peddal notes, drumline going around the drum rack, and my favorite moment of the night: a nice feature with the hornline and space chords that resolves into a nice contra/bari chord. Do they have what it takes to win the title? Maybe. I wouldn't drop them any lower than 3rd though. PROS: Great hornline, as usual. Drumline seems to be improved but not sure if they can clean it up to challenge for the drum trophy. CONS: the long chanting, lack of visual impact (hopefully tonight will be different from up above), guard does too much dance and not enough equipment work, 2nd half of show feels very choppy with the chanting and bits and pieces of WSS.

Full corps retreat led on by Oregon Crusaders drumline. Placements shown from above, although the announcer first announced the Troopers at a 52.00 Thought it was too low. He later said it was a typo! Thought Seattle was scored a bit low as well, would have placed them around 73-74. Spread between BDB and SCV Cadets was too small.

BD arc'd up for some nice F-tuning blowing my face off, and the show. I have to say that I enjoyed the music much more in the arc than I did when it was on the field. Maybe it's because we sat closer to the 50 for the encore, maybe the kids just play louder, don't know for sure. Their main trumpet soloist is THE MAN. Nice job.

Stopped to look at the souvies real quick and left the show fairly easily, traffic wasn't a problem at all. Looking forward to tonight's show in Vancouver from the high seats.

Side note - met Karl Rinder (Cav 85 mello) and Tracy Freeman (Cav 76,77,79,80 guard). Both nice guys. Learned that Karl was going to DCM next weekend and that Tracy had a daughter in the BDB colorguard. Had an old guy in the stands (at least 60 years of age) see my jacket and yell out "Park Ridge Cavaliers!", then showed me his "Kingsmen" jacket. Later he asked when I marched, I told him, and he talked about how his corps and mine were big competitors in 1971 when they won the title. Wrong year buddy (it was 1972), but that's ok. I got the feeling that he thought maybe I was around back then. Do I look THAT OLD??? Sheesh.

Vancouver review up tomorrow. Hope you enjoyed the recap.

Evan FMM
1990-93 Marauders / 1994-95 Cavaliers Soprano

First a little small talk...
Drove up to the show with my son (3), daughter (5 1/2 ) and wife. No dog this time. Great weather and had a little picnic on the grass at the show site. Sat next to some age outs from BD who marched during my era and had kids the same age as mine. Knew some of the same people... that was nice.

Moving on. The show started pretty much on time with the standard National Anthem and what seems to be the mandatory mass reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance. For those of you who do not know about Woodburn Oregon, it holds the honor of being the smallest community in the country to host a DCI show. Very late 70’s early 80’s in show feel with bleachers brought and placed on the track in front of the stands and they even allowed seating in the backfield bleachers.

Oregon Crusaders 52.55 - Much improved over last year. I watched them perform block and boy did they look tired. They got on the field and looked like a different bunch. I think the show was put together well although the pit and battery did over power a bit. Drill was a little muddled but I was only 30’ up (top row). If they improve this much from year to year good things will happen.

Blue Devils B 68.65 - Great drum line and nice guard uniforms. The colors complemented each other very well. First Circle is always a little tough because of exposed parts and possible phasing problems but they did well. The hornbook seemed to be scored higher than SCVC and OC. As I said before the drum line was intense and did a good job.

Santa Clara Vanguard Cadets 69.80 - Boy, these kids just look like little mini-me’s of their older brother. They had a great presence on the field with fairly open drill. Seemed a little easier to follow than BDB as far as drill and flow. Not sure how the guard is scoring against BDB but work seemed more muted and not as featured. I really enjoyed the show AND the performers. Everything from warm-up to retreat was just like their big brother. Nice job.

Troopers 62.00 - New unis, horns and drums? It looks as Premier has outfitted the entire line. Looks great. Nice opening move with the battery mimicking a locomotive starting up resolving into a full corps follow-the-leader snake move. Not sure if these were new G’s but they were loud. I was particularly impressed with the Mello line that seemed very well balanced and did some very good work. They did not have that nasal sound that mellos can have. I think it was due to the new horns that had more of a hybrid mello/flugel look. Similar to the Alto’s BD used in the 80’s. Great keyboard work and effects in the show. Guard seemed to have a little difficulty with equipment work while moving but plowed through it like, yes, Troopers M&M was off and forms weren’t clicking but it looks so close that it should be there soon. It was sure nice to have the Troopers out for the show. I got my mandatory souvie t.

Cascades 71.40 - Show has potential. I mean that in a nice way. The first 2/3 of the show is nice but needs something to put it over the top. I think the last 1/3 (El Salon) works well and it got me smiling like last year. It seems that mellos are now the work horses of most corps as this group had some very nice work. Horn line was loud and fairly well balanced. I haven’t decided if I like the guard outfits. I can’t speak or speculate on Top 12 but if compared to last year, sure, with some work.

Blue Devils 82.25 - Well well...... The horn line is the bread and butter this year. Guard and percussion were outstanding but the horns stole the show. But I’m getting a head of myself. The design of the show seemed disjointed to me. Each thing unto its own was great but together it didn’t quite fit. Nice treatments of the various "cool" pieces but some of the things seemed added not integrated into the show. Kind of like picking up a needle on a record and playing bits and pieces. Not sure how much more can be done with the show design. With that said, the kids sold the heck out of it and were amazing. The horn line is so well balanced it reminded me of 2002 Cavies on steroids. They laid it down. The intonation and balance was excellent. Only a few phasing and stylistic conflicts but that’s only because everything else was so well executed. Drill was nice and guard did well but didn’t seem to stand out like last years. Drum line has some really nice moments with some pseudo-improv work trade off between the snares. Not sure how to the take the spin off of the Scouts 95 piece Concierto de Aranjuez The drill move with the run through was the same also…… Bottom line is they play the who-ha out of this show and their marching was very clean for early July. They can take it all if they don’t pull an 82’ Phantom and peak early.

Other observations -
Bright teal seems to be a popular color this year as quite a few guards were working with the color. I kept thinking that Pacific Crest was walking onto the field.

I noticed quite a lot of stop and blow for 4 to 6 count moves in shows. Not much moving and blowing. This wasn’t quite park and blow but close to it. Devils did a little but also had nice moving drill while raising the roof.

Old school retreat was nice although Cascades didn't play off. BD did a stand still that was worth the price of the ticket. The stadium seating is completly covered and is only about 30 feet high. The pit pulled up to the the very front of the bleachers with the contras behind. The horn arc butted up against the side of the bleachers so you can imagine that coupled with a breeze blowing into the stands that the sound was immense. I was smiling for the rest of the night.

Looks to be a banner year for Drum Corps!

Bill Callender

Monday June 30

New London, CT (DCI Atlantic)

A very good turnout at this show, and this is the first time the Surfers put a show on. The only negative thing about the show was the large telephone pole on the fifty yard line, and the field was a mess... holes were everywhere. A contra form Crossmen, and three players from Boston fell during the show. I wish there was a way to have the field inspected so the performers dont get hurt. What a different a day makes, for the corps at the Beverly show the day before, everyone at tonights show was better. Patriots were improved ,drumline played much better tonight. Carolina Crown looks great in the new uniforms and the guard uniforms were the best of the night, as well as the flags in the opener. The drumline is excellent and the pit was one of the best of the night. How Glassmen were ahead by that much I'll never know, Glassmen were good, but the show is boring. Boston was much better tonight, strong sopranos(trumpets) and the drumline is coming along. Crossmen were a bit better tonight, the drumline and pit are really playing well. I cant Blue Coats won this show, they were good, the opener is nice but then the rest of the show just tails off... it's a nice show, but thats it... nice. Blues snare line was very good, but I dont see them ahead of Crossmen or Boston for long.Charlie Poole was judging field drums, and when Boston was on he was hit in the head with a bass drum... then I heard it was a rifle. He ended up falling to the ground and the rescue took him away... but I think he's going to be fine, he was holding a ice bag on his head. When you think about marching a tough show... think of guys like Charlie Poole and the rest of the judges that run around all night long, that has to be tougher than marching a show. Imagine running around at quater finals or a show that has ten corps?


Sunday June 29

Pleasant Hill, CA (DCI Pacific)

Great show in Concord tonight. Great to see Phantom Regiment out West!

Quick thoughts on each corps:

Sorry -- I unfortunately missed both Senior corps performances (first b/c I arrived late, second b/c I met up with an old friend), although I was told they were both very entertaining!

I assume this corps is connected to the old Valley Fever of the early 1980s? This was a nice show. As with most of the Div 2/3 corps, I thought the drumline was their strength.

I really enjoyed this show. Just need some more brass players on the field to deliver a fuller sound. Nice percussion work. Guard was excellent -- stongest of the Div 2/3 group.

SCV Cadets
Nice visual corps. I have to say, the music wasn't all that memorable or accessible to me. The props used by the guard looked like the Enron logo!! bad karma! Drumline was outstanding!

Still look the same! Very nostalgic! Drum major thought he was pretty cool in his getup and sidearm. I thought all sections gave a great effort, but unfortunately all struggled. Nice lower brass though!

Pacific Crest
Nice full brass sound. Strong percussion. Drill is interesting, but needs lots of cleaning. The silver cube things -- pretty cool, but when the brass line lets loose near the end, the guard has those darned cubes stacked in front of the brass! Doesn't work! Stack em in the back or something! Nice work, and nice to see a strong Southern California corps.

Whoa!!! Best I've ever seen this group. My first standing ovation of the night. Outstanding music book. Great show concept. Loved the drum feature. Guard was very strong. This corps just needs about 15-20 more quality brass, and they would be around 10th place at finals!!! Great, great job!

They sound like a finalist corps. Nice brass sound -- good balance. The show didn't do too much for me, but at least they sounded good doing it!

I gotta say, this show was a disappointment. Opening sequence doesn't work at all -- yet. I couldn't discern any tempo between the two sides of the field. I'm not a design expert, but those guard uniforms look really bad. Looks like they are from a different corps! Just really, really bad. Brass and guard were good, but not up to their traditional standards. Percussion though was outstanding. I really like this line. Show concept: You know, I've read a lot of these reviews over the past few years. I've constantly read that SCV and others perform accessible exciting music with amazing drill, and that BD only marches in blocks and plays boring music. Without going into past seasons, I'll just say that for this season, that line of reasoning is hogwash! I found SCV's music incredibly abstract and choppy, and frankly, until the drumline started grooving half way through the show, BORING!!! I also saw quite a few .. gasp .. BLOCKS in the drill. I thought only BD did those! Don't get me wrong though -- SCV's drill design was the most innovative on the field tonight. Unofrtunately, they can't march it that well yet. SCV, and that Caveliers music book that won last year are just not that interesting to me. (IMHO) Nice technical stuff, but where's the musical impact??!?! Festive Overture from the 1980s! Russian Christmas Music! SCV will probably nab 4th or 5th place because they'll clean up their very interesting, but very sloppy drill. great percussion. Brass holds their own.

Phantom Regiment
Great to see this corps out West! Very nice show -- I loved the music selections. The guard was very strong. LOW BRASS sounded great! Visual book is very nice ... also seems simple compared to BD and especially SCV. I actually think that SCV has a chance to catch them for 4th place by Finals (even after the lukewarm review). Great brass. Great music. Nice percussion. Great guard. They do a fair amount very, very well. I think they may peak early though.

This corps really kicks ass this year. Wayne Downey has done it again with this brass line, and the music. Brass is more top heavy that PR, but damn can these guys play. The quality of their sound is so damn pure! The opening snare solo stuff was really cool. Loved how the brass started playing backfield, and wound up for the big BAM! after about a minute. Reminded me of how BD used to open up in the 80s. Guard -- this group is freaking amazing!! They are very well integrated into the show -- those darned rifle tosses (SNAP!) are part of the percussion book! They really blew me away! I'm not that knowledgable on guard, but I have to say, they really make this show something special. The vocal "cha cha" stuff is pretty cool. My only complaint about BD -- why is it that every year, they always seem to be searching for how to close the last two minutes of their show?! I know they change things up a lot -- but it just seems to me that the staff writes a kick ass show every year, but they can never figure out how to REALLY end the damn thing. Overall -- it was obvious from the start that BD is a clear step above PR and SCV. They don't have a weakness. The drill, while not appearing as complex and creative as SCV, is still very, very good. And BD marches the hell out of it. I think a winning program needs to strike that balance between complex, innovative movement and crisp, flat-out execution. SCV has tons of the former, but weak on the latter. I think BD strikes a very effective balance. Also, BD knows how to stage different elements (brass sections, percussion, guard section) to absoluate perfection. Lots of fast crisp movement, as well as flowing slow stuff. I don't know what the Cavies look like, but I think this show (and talent) -- moreso than any since 1997 -- has what it takes to win this year.

Thanks to all of the corps for the great Sunday night! I don't always make the Concord show, but of recent year (1998, 1999, 2001, 2003), I think BD looks the strongest this season. Very impressive. I enjoyed Phantom more than I did the Cadets of BC two years ago when they were out. Great corps! To close, while the visual side of things with drum corps is truly amazing these days, I really miss the old programs of the 80s. The music was just more interesting, although the visuals were boring compared to now.

Thanks to all performers for a great Sunday evening!


Random notes from Hayward/Concord

1. RENEGADES (Hayward). PRO: First judged appearance of 2003 Renegades. 200 light years ahead of last year, except no Evil in-your-face ending yet. Crowd loves bullet-time in the Matrix. Dufus show announcers from previous years who made fun of drum corps at every opportunity replaced with famous hype announcer guy from DCI Finals . very cool. CON: Opening night jitters led to horrible Renegade drum show. Ensemble melt-down in Niner Two.

2. PACIFIC CREST: PRO: Full corps, performing at a very, very high level of execution. Some cool visual ideas, including metallic silver boxes all over the field. CON: Drum breaks often had nothing to do with the music, just Chops 101. Absence of any melody makes for a boring show (sorry, but it does).

3. TROOPERS: PRO: Uniforms look great. Drum line and horn line are solid for early season. Drill demand is there. CON: Guard adds almost no color to the show. I would like to hear more of Trooper's identity in the music, which can easily be done without dusting off charts from 1969.

4. BLUE DEVILS: PRO: Drum book is very unique for Blue Devils, and absolute nirvana for snare drummer fighter pilots . and bass drummers who mostly happen to be brothers. Horns and guard are great, as always. Drill complements music perfectly . Jay Murphy for President. CON: Show is cool, but lacks emotion. What is it trying to say? I dunno. Split one handed rolls and other effects in drum book are genius, but will be very difficult to get consistently 100% clean (similar to trying to clean the SCV helicopter effect in 1991). Pit is OK.

5. PHANTOM REGIMENT. PRO: Show is genius. Uniforms are genius. Drum line is incredible. Possibly the most lush, beautiful and well-blended horn sound I've ever heard from a drum corps. Was that a drum corps or the New York Philharmonic? CON: Phantom Regiment is from Illinois, so they don't come to California every summer. The GAP is now selling old wacky tan uniforms in discount bin (good).

6. SANTA CLARA VANGUARD: PRO: My favorite SCV opener in years, and has a cool melodic hook that sticks in your head for weeks (Ed Teleky was singing it all weekend). Drill and music demand in the first minute is unbelievable, and I have no idea how they got it as clean as it is. Pit and percussion battery sounds are amazing, amazing, amazing. CON: Opening set of show (corps split in opposite end zones) looks cool, but makes the show take a really long time to develop. Drill is difficult, but unremarkable. I'm still not sold on the mostly green uniforms.

7. RENEGADES (Concord). PRO: Best ensemble music and visual show in Renegade history, including DCA 2002. dog interrupted drum line field warm-up = drum line has a great show and jumps approximately 5 points in drum score from the horrible show the night before in Hayward. CON: Pets can't drive, and if they could, they shouldn't come to Concord . it's too hot for dogs.

8. RIVER CITY REGIMENT: PRO: The show is very cool, and the corps definitely took one HUGE step up the ladder in terms of quality from last year. CON: More color guard and pit needed.

Lee Rudnicki

Beverly, MA (DCI Atlantic)

It was a perfect night for Drum Corps in Beverly, Mass. Temps where in the mid 70's with a bit of a breeze. Finally, after a difficult two weeks the Boston Crusaders made a successful debut. Here are some of my thoughts.

Div II

1 rst Place, 67.2 East Coast Jazz
ECJ must have been pleased to beat the much larger Patriots after getting beaten by them the previous night. It has been great watching this corps grow the last 3 years. Members are obviously more mature and their performance of Gershwin Music showed much confidence. The closer of "Lord, I'm on my Way' from Porgy and Bess was especially sweet. ECJ has a much bigger guard this year, however they are struggling a bit with some rifle and sabre work. Show seemed pretty complete. Look for EC to move up in Div II rankings this year.

2nd place, Patriots, 67.05
Patriots are fielding a large corps of over 90 this season. Guard is huge. Musical program was not listed but sound like typical Patriots esoteric music. Good strong hornline but lots of marching dirt.

Div I

first Place, Cavaliers 81.45
The crowd gasped when Cavaliers were announced in first place. I cannot understand why. Musically Cadets are more accessible but Cavies have a much more sophisticated show. 'Spin Cycle' forms a triptych of shows from the last three years that contain some of the most daring and difficult music and visuals ever put on the field. The Cavies also do not take them selves too seriously and the light hearted coupling section of the guard with the battery and brass was a lot of fun. Sure the guard uniforms are ugly but the work is so great who cares? Hornline has a blended, uniform sound that is amazing for June. Battery was a bit more low key than usual but highly effective. One major complaint: the show has no ending! For the second time in 3 nights the audience had to be cued in by the Drum Major that the show was over? Hopefully re-writes are coming. Can Cavies go undefeated again in 2003? It seems unlikely now that BD is back to it's typical early season form. Will this show contend for the title? Defiantly!

2nd Place Cadets 79.75
I really want to like this show more than I do but it really does not have an original bone in it's body. I know it is supposed to be all about entertainment but why was I more entertained by Cavies? Corps is strong all around. Is it me or do all their percussion breaks for the last 3 years sound alike? The warm up of 'My Favorite things" is fun but confused the announcer hilariously. 'Malaguena' is a bit tired. Cadets do make it their own and the park and blow part was fun but lacking in visual exposure and interest. Guards Latin dancing was quite good. Arrangement of 'Rocky Point" is really punched up the the Z pull is really appreciated but they are going to be battling with Phantom and SCV for the 3rd to 5th positions in Orlando. Bring back the envelope pushing Cadets!

3rd Place, Crossmen 74.45
I am always a bit leery when you see a corps score go up 4 points in two nights. In the Crossmens case it was more than deserved. When I saw them Fri in NJ I was impressed by the sweet, innovative 'Over the Rainbow' opener and that was about it. Today I really got into the second tune 'St James'' it has a great melody that really sticks with you. Execution all around was much better "Blue Rondos' meter was dumbed down a bit but is still a pleasure. Guard was excellent. The park and blow segment of 'Count Bubba' really got the crowd on their feet. This was the crowds favorite show.

4th place, Glassmen 73.1
From all I have heard I was ready to dislike this show. I actually enjoyed their show. However this show does not have the design quality or execution that one expects from the Glassmen 2 weeks into the season. Hornline is loud. Percussion was unusually sloppy. They have begun adding effects to attach the music to the theme and it does help but I cannot fight the feeling that they could be fighting for a top 12 spot come August.

5th place, Boston, 72.5
After all the recent drama and gossip it was great to see Boston debut well. This was an intense but sloppy performance which can be expected given the circumstances. The show is a sequel to Boston's fan favorite show from '2000' titled 'Red'. Overall it is a well designed, intense, loud show with lots of familiar music and drill moves. I really need to see this show again to fully take it all in. New guard uniforms of red pants and light red shirt is very elegant but the guards equipment work although complete is pretty messy. Large silks in the opener and ballad are beautiful. Brass is also having some noticeable problems and there were several noticeable tears in second piece. Brass scores were alarming low and bring to mind the problematic 2001 show which they never could execute well enough. Exposure level both musically and visually are higher than 2002. Percussion was a definite strong point as BAC outscored Glassmen and Crossmen. Watch for the percussion break featuring a huge snare line of about 14 (?). I thought the closer that blended Malaguena and Spanish fantasy was a lot of fun complete with their very own park and blow finale. Ballad is pretty but has no where the emotion of 'Conte Patriro' from 2000. BAC has it's work cut out for them if they have a chance to keep their top 5 status from 2002 but do not rule them out yet. They have a tricky way of peaking at just the right time.

Mark Montgomery

Just got back driving up to Maine from Mass. - left before the scores to beat traffic and I knew they'd be up by the time I got here anyway - cold pizza and a colder beer - sat middle height, around the 25, didn't take notes, so here goes...

1 The Cavaliers 81.45
Incredible performance - very witty show, there's a section with them seated in a block with one, then another, then small groups standing to announce a musical idea with a guard member standing next to them - as the ideas develop the battery floats through - audience was laughing along - you don't hear that much these days. Horn sound was lovely - balanced, clear, in tune - but struck me as restrained, like there was more there but if they gave it, it would impair the emotional flow of the show - very odd. Percussion was stupendous, of course. I like the guard uniform - it works - I know I was kidding earlier about them having the "total package", but a) someone seems to have discovered dance belts and b) they move so well and the equipment work is so involved you don't notice "anything" - and it's a really good guard - holy Jesus, is it a good guard. The visual of the whole ensemble was dense but clear. Musically I have to say I'm very impressed with their performance but feel that the music is like stage lights - it colors the stage and sets a mood, but what counts is the words and actions of the actors - and the actors aren't really saying anything - there isn't a lot of musical content - melody, structured harmony - to interest me - there's a lot of musical EFFECT but not a lot of CONTENT - I'm a composer and that's how I experience it - someone else may experience it differently. I guess mostly I'm more impressed with HOW they perform than WHAT they perform - as if the "what" exists to present the "how" alone. But no illusions - that is a hell of a drum corps and a hell of a show - they should be proud.

2 The Cadets 79.75
This was a surprising disappointment - on all three of their numbers I felt they were playing "versions" of the music rather than the music itself - personally I thought the marching warm up of "My Favorite Things" was the same arrogant mistake they made at Finals last year, when the fire trucks went off at GH's phone call - the end of the show wasn't really the end of the show, like they stole time from the next group - basically unfair - shows are like sonnets, you have to follow the rules which are very strict and if you don't, it's not a sonnet - but inside those strict rules you are free to say whatever you want - it didn't seem to hang up Shakespeare - but I digress.... The horns were making surprising errors in the most exposed places - to my ear it just wasn't a good performance - musically they were around half a point behind Cavies - but it's kind of pointless to cavil at horn errors this early in the season - for all I know they might be playing revisions they got yesterday afternoon. You can tell that there was a completely different concept of sound between the two hornlines - the sounds and voicings were radically different - like Boston and Crossmen, CBC was playing songs that went together, rather than having a thread tie all of them together like Cavies and Glassmen. I'm not a percussionist - they wound up .3 behind Cavies (15.6 to 15.9) - their drums struck me as relating to the overall music rather like blueberries in a muffin - you tended to be aware of them at certain points, but they otherwise dissappeared. They won guard - the kids were in bright red unitard jumpers - equipment work was clean, but I was more aware of them performing as seperate from the corps proper, as opposed to Cavies, who struck me as being more integrated. Personally, it also didn't strike me as the kind of show that could win Nationals - at least as it exists now - we all know they are past masters of summer rewrites.

3 Crossmen 74.45
This was fun - their book was very clear in intent, and all the parts of the corps worked to support it - and you could tell the kids were into it and having a good time. And since you had a Boston crowd, it didn't hurt that they parked and renovated the stadium by moving the bleachers back a few feet. Their drill has one really fun moment when the horn line heads to the upstage right corner, like they were taking off to leave the field (which some folks around me thought there were doing) then return by rotating squads to blow the crowd away - really fun - much larger moves and longer phrases than either CBC or Cavies.

4 Glassmen 73.10
Their approach is different than last year - I always thought that they never fully finished a phrase, that the sentences in their show were understated, rather like someone who looks down at the end of a sentence - trying to make you focus on the words rather than the voice that delivers them. This year, they really push to reach the crowd - I can't say how effective their "Air, Earth, Fire, Water" is - I need to see it again - not a bad thing. One really effective moment is at the start of the "Fire" segment - the drums snap off large (4 - 6 foot) slapsticks - it sounds just like firecrackers - at first they're not in rythm, then they are, then the guard takes them over and they become part of the equipment work - very cool.

5 Boston Crusaders 72.70
This placement really didn't surprise me - one of their support people told me they still had a couple of kids out with the viral infection - but in front of a home town crowd the corps felt they had to perform. This show starts by recapping the end of the 2000 "Red" show - right down to the final formation, music and posture. It struck me as sort of a cliched' Spanish show - there was a band piece called "Just Another Spanish Opener" and that ran through my head - they were under the Glassmen by a tenth in GE Music, ahead of Crossmen by a tenth - so perhaps that is my bias. I have a sense of "been there, done that" with their show, especially the first third. Little whisps of themes from past years are worked into the music and it's fun to hear them - and yes, the "Conquest" hits are there too. The guard has some definite moments, and dances quite well - the percussion is ballsy (is that a word?) and clean, to my poor ear. BAC (taking the virus into account, of course) has a show that emotionally is very accessable - but in terms of difficulty and performance is very much in the middle of the pack - I'm very curious to see how they do in the next week or so - I could very well be very wrong.

ALL TOLD, A GOOD SHOW - Cavies are the corps to beat (BD is going to have to walk on water to win, but if any corps can, it's them - but I'm biased) - CBC doesn't have the total design package - not that you have to have a totally unified show like Cavies, it's just that Cavies have a ravingly good show. It doesn't surprise me that BAC, XMen and GMen (sounds like a comic book convention) are bunched within .7 of each other - they all have good components - one of them is going to have to totally hang 'em on the chopping block to pull ahead and right now, on one viewing, I don't know who that will be.

It ain't gonna be dull in Orlando - there's gonna be blood on the sand before this season is done, and, as a lot of people sitting around me said, "it's worth the 25 dollars".

regards - Jim Alberty

My brief review of the Bevery, MA show. Sorry, I should bring something to write on next time. I can't remember a lot of what I wanted to write.

So... same annoying announcer as in years past. He needs to calm down, take the microphone out of his mouth and stop that whole "YOU, may take the field" thing. The whole crowd comments on how annoying it is. People were incredibly rude tonight. There was more walking around and talking during the performances than I have ever seen at a show before. People need to sit down before the show starts and then leave when they are supposed to.

5th place: Boston Crusaders- 72.7

Not bad for their first show of the year. I bet this will end up being one of the best shows of the summer. Unfortunately the slow start and major illness problem showed tonight. The show starts with the ending (last minute or so) of their 2000 show drill and all and goes into some really cool latin/Spanish stuff. Malaguena is great. It seemed like they had about 15 snares at one point. The whole show is VERY entertaining and very dirty. It is good to be dirty though. If they were scoring a 72.7 and were clean, I would be worried. I am sure in two or three weeks, they will deffinately be top 5 again. The show has major potential. This will definitely be one of the crowd favorites this year. I must say that I thought they should have been above the Glassmen tonight. They had a much more entertaining and difficult show. They seemed to have much more difficult drill and both the horns and percussion seemed pretty tight for this time of year. I am sure they will move up several places as they have for the last few years. They worked in some cool stuff from the 2000 show. There are little hints of "Time to Say Goodbye" in the pit and some other neat things. No singing this year so that should make some people happy.

4th place: Glassmen- 73.1

This was a more entertaining show than Glassmen has done in the last few years. They seemed pretty tight. I thought they should have maybe been below Boston however. They were much cleaner than Boston but I don't see them getting a whole lot better.

3rd place: Crossmen- 74.45

They definitely beat the Crusaders and Glassmen tonight. They had an entertaining show and were much cleaner than either of the previous two corps. However, I do believe that within two weeks, Boston will be ahead of them easily. They should think about keeping the guard equipment out of the battery. They wrap these red pieces of fabric around the visibly annoyed snare players. Then when its time to play again, the guard is slow to pull them off and the snares a visibly annoyed.

2nd place: Cadets- 79.75

This was my favorite show of the night although Cavaliers definitely deserved to win. My only problem with the Cadets show is the beginning. You can't really tell when the show starts. How do the judges? They march during the warmup and some guy conducts the corps in the backfield. The DM then conducts with the guy and the guy leaves as the show continues on. The announcer had no idea what was going on and ended up talking while they were playing. They need to fix this as it starts the show with an uneasy feeling. Malaguena was great. I like Boston's arrangement better but Cadets definitely threw it down.

1st place: Cavaliers- 81.45

They deserved to win. They were the cleanest and had the most difficult show. I don't particularly care for the music but the drill is awesome as always. There are some interesting moments. (ie. When the horns play there little quick solos with the guard-This made for a nice effect) The guard uniforms are pretty bad but not as bad as I thought they would be. I think the guys need a little more "support."

It will be interesting to see how things turn out. I think the Crusaders have a show that could put them in the top 4 or 5 if they are able to clean it enough. I predict Cavaliers will probably stay ahead of Cadets. I do not see Crossmen or Glassmen moving ahead of any other corps in the near future. Cadets will be in the top 3 and have a very entertaining show.


Saturday June 28

Hayward, CA (DCI Pacific)

What a night! This was by far the best drum corps show I've seen in person outside of DCI Finals. EIGHT Division I corps competing at Cal State University Hayward, sitting atop a big hill in the east bay with a phenomenal view. The day started off a little warm but was simply perfect by the time the sun went down.

The announcer, I noted with great delight, was the immortal Brandt Crocker! Outstanding hearing his voice again.

Review in order of performance (mostly), with general commentary at the end...


59 brass, 27 percussion, 33 guard, 4 color guard, 2 drum majors = 125 total
This group is much bigger than the last time I saw them. More people = more volume, surely not to the disappointment of those looking forward to the loudest show on Earth. The bigger, louder drumline (7s/4q/5b/3c/8p) did a good job holding their own against the sonic thunder that is the Evil Brassline. Cool moment in show: several horns on the front sideline holding up MEGAPHONES to their bells! As if they needed more volume! It produced a really neat sound, though. The corps had several nice soloists, but a bit of a problem with their ensemble sounds (particularly blending) and had some very choppy attacks. But the Renegades are just fun. The drum major got a lot of catcalls (since she's wearing a skintight latex number a la "Trinity" from "The Matrix).

DIVISION III - Exhibition:

29 brass, 19 percussion (4s/3q/4b/8p), 17 guard, 1 drum major = 66 Total
There's really not much to review here. If you haven't seen this group of kids (some as young as 5-6 years old) you're missing out. The brass was mostly trumpets, and it still seemed like the instruments were bigger than some of the performers. I must give a ton of credit to the Blue Devils family and the staff of this corps for creating a show that is enjoyable and not written beyond the abilities of the very green performers.


30 brass, 24 percussion (4s/2q/5b/3c/10p), 14 guard, 2 drum majors = 70 Total
I was amazed that this is a first year corp. They're certainly going after it right off the bat! The program is very ambitious, both musically and visually, and written at a similar level to other top lower division corps. They did a pretty good job visually, but had a few musical issues (brass had balancing problems, the battery was very dirty). Still, quite a debut for a first year corps! I wouldn't be surprised to see them competing in the D2/3 Finals in a few years. But I hope they get new uniforms, first (their uniforms -- red, pink, and grey -- are not pretty).

24 brass, 26 percussion (6s/3q/5b/3c/9p), 20 guard, 2 drum majors = 72 Total
The Blue Devils' minor league system seems to be a little thin in the brass area, but the percussion in guard are just fine. This group had a strong battery and quality guard, but the brass was a little underpowered and definitely the weakest link.

38 brass, 30 percussion (8s/5q/5b/2c/10p), 21 guard, 1 drum major = 90 Total
Much like the lower Blue Devils' corps, Vanguard's feeder group is powered by very strong guard and percussion sections. Holy moly! The drum line is Division I sized and would be towards the top of the field at Division II Finals. I also noted this group as having a very strong visual book for a Division II corps.


56 brass, 32 percussion (8s/5q/5b/5c/9p), 28 guard, 2 drum majors = 118 Total
All the complaints I've heard over the years about the Glassmen immediately sprung to mind while watching this show. The Estancia opener is slow to develop and lacking in Musical G.E.; by the time the corps heats up I'm sure many in the audience were thinking "get on with it!" The musical book is all over the place, seemingly with no rhyme or reason, from Ginastera's "Estancia" to a big, jazzy number ("Allegria"?). The brass and visual books are strongly written, and the brass is sound. The corps produced a big and solid brass sound, and the percussion was good enough sounding to me. The visual execution has some problems: lots of phasing issues and a very dirty and imprecise overall visual ensemble (missed lines, spots, etc.). The guard had a lot of nice moments, and is one of the corps' biggest strengths. If the opener gets some rewrites and they do a ton and a half of cleaning they can start thinking about maybe getting a Saturday night performance. But, as it sits right now, this show doesn't have much of a shot at making Finals. Strong points: Visual concept, Guard, Brass. Weak points: Visual Ensemble, Musical Effect.

47 brass, 28 percussion (8s/4q/5b/11p), 20 guard, 2 drum majors = 97 Total
The Troops' show starts out very strong, with some terrific visual execution and a big brass hit that belies their size. Throughout the show the Visual design is very nice, and I would like to see this show later in the year (ie, cleaner). The brass was solid from start to finish, but the percussion wasn't. A very inconsistant drum book, the Troopers battery was either thundering out a million and a half notes a minute or not playing at all. It seemed like there was no in-between. The guard was flat out TERRIBLE, sorry. This was especially obvious coming after the strong Pacific Crest guard unit. Strong points: Visual, Brass. Weak points: Percussion, Guard.

40 brass, 24 percussion (6s/3q/5b/10p), 25 guard, 2 drum majors = 91 Total
Wow, wow, WOW! This was the first show of the night to pull me out of my seat. All the books, visual and musical, are incredibly challenging. The brass book is insane: I've heard Top 6 caliber corps play less challenging stuff. The guard is phenomenal (I had the Mandarins' guard 3rd, after BD and PR, and ahead of SCV). Most of the show was terrifically clean, especially visually. The closer, "Bacchanale," had a bit of musical dirt in it. Okay, a fair amount. The 40 brass put out a great sound, but (and here is the Mandarins' biggest stumbling block) they are only 40 brass. Every corps after them simply swamped them in terms of sound. If this group had 30-40 more kids, they would be in the Top 12. GUARANTEED. The Mandarins' main hope is to clean the bejesus out of this show and hope that their clean execution and effect can get them into Finals (after all, that's what BAC did in 1999). This is easily the best Mandarins group ever, and at the rate they're climbing through the ranks Sacramento might have a DCI Finalist once again within the next few years. They should be considered a definite Finalist contender this year, though, and I expect they will surprise a corps or two and finish in the Top 15. This show got the first standing ovation of the night. Strong points: Visual, Effect, Guard, Brass execution, Percussion. Weak points: Size (Volume).

61 brass, 27 percussion (7s/3q/5b/12p), 35 guard, 2 drum majors = 125 Total
The Cascades come out with a very strong first musical hit, and indeed, music is the strength of this show. Honestly, I didn't think they were nearly as good as the Mandarins visually. The Cascades drill is much easier. The curse of the Glassmen strikes again: this show simply didn't grab me at all, at any point. The execution was terrific, but I have to wonder if this show has enough oomph to push into the Top 12 again. My best guess: no, it doesn't, and the Cascades' season will end on Friday night in Orlando. Strong points: Brass, Percussion. Weak points: Visual difficulty, Effect.

58 brass, 30 percussion (8s/5q/5b/12p), 25 guard, 2 drum majors = 115 Total
This show really disappointed me. I don't think it's nearly as good as the 2002 show. It's already very clean, and I don't think this show has a whole lot of room to grow: the ceiling is very low. This corps also gets the "park 'n' blow" award for the evening: they were either moving around at 90 MPH or not moving at all, and there was a lot of posing, crouching, kneeling, sitting, lying down and playing. The music had some nice moments, but was, in the end, completely forgettable and didn't stick in my head (the dreaded "Glassmen's Disease" strikes again). The brass has a very nice sound and is quite clean already, but the total package is quite lacking. I can easily see this show getting passed up by other corps, and would be very surprised if it made Finals as it's written right now. Expect a late season fade from BK unless some changes are made. Strong points: Brass. Weak points: Visual difficulty, Effect.

68 brass, 29 percussion (9s/5q/5b/10p), 36 guard, 2 drum majors = 135 Total
Whoa. Best Phantom since 1996, easily (yeah, '96, not '97). Best Phantom GUARD since the early 90s, easily. This show absolutely FLOORED me. The brass and guard were both Top 3 quality, and this show had more Musical GE than all the previous shows combined. I don't think the Visual book is a weak point either. Unless I missed a memo, Visuals are not all about SPEED (Cascades and Blue Knights, please take note). Phantom had one of the nicest Visual shows of the night, a very EFFECTIVE visual show that goes terrifically with the music. The uniforms (corps and guard) are oh-so-nice. Phantom was also the ONLY corps the entire night that still SOUNDED together when the corps was physically spread out across the field. Top 4? This show could easily be Top 3, and I would like to declare them a dark horse for the DCI Title in August. I consider the 3.75 point gap between Phantom and the Devils to be ultimate proof that judges prefe style over substance. Easily the best musical book of the night, the crowd response was enormous. Strong points: Brass, Guard, Musical Effect, Visual Effect.

63 brass, 27 percussion (9s/4q/5b/9p), 40 guard, 2 drum majors = 132 Total
Another year, another Top 3 show for BD. The "Blue" Machine has easily been the most consistant corps of the last 10 years, and this show is more of the same. But... this show seemed old, even with the first viewing: musically, it's all stuff we've seen before. The Blue Devils have a little show off section (both individual and ensemble) much like the Cadets in 2000; the strains of "West Side Story" are interspersed throughout the closer; and the cymbal rack is brought back in the exact same way. Speaking of the closer, the brass got REALLY winded the last 15-30 seconds of the show and lost a TON of power. The guard is doing more equipment work and less dancing... but still plenty (too much, IMO) of dancing. A side note: the Blue Devils guard had more drops than Phantom's guard did, and Phantom's entire guard was on equipment for virtually the whole show. Musically, I didn't like the choppy arranging. Wayne Downey may be a genius, but it seems like it's been 15 years since I've heard the Devils play something longer than a 16-bar phrase. I listened to the 1991, 1992, and 1993 Devils on my way to work today, and they sound completely different than the Devils of today. But, few corps are even capable of executing at the Blue Devils level, so there's no reason to expect them to fade out of the Top 3 any time soon. Strong points: Brass, Percussion, Guard, Visual Ensemble, Musical Ensemble, Effect.

60 brass, 31 percussion (8s/4q/5b/5c/9p), 39 guard, 2 drum majors = 132 Total
Oh boy. This is one of those shows that could finish 4th or it could finish 8th. I just don't what's going to happen. There's a lot of great ideas here, but the execution is severely lacking (way behing BD and PR at this point in the season) and the show has some concept problems. The opener takes far too long to develop: the answering calls from one side of the field to the other was done by Phantom, too, and much better. It was Vanguard's color guard, not the Blue Devils', that was guilty of too much dancing and not enough equipment work. I noticed a dozen or so girls in the second movement just marching around, no equipment or routine, so I can only assume the guard routine is incomplete(?). There was a stretch of 4+ minutes in the show where I didn't see a single flags, only weapons or flailing limbs. When the guard did have weapons, they were dropping them left and right. I noticed about four drops COMBINED in Phantom's and the Blue Devils' shows; SCV surpassed that in about a minute. Visually the show is very dirty. That said, it's not a BAD show, it just has some very glaring flaws right now. But to be honest, I don't think this show is capable of either Phantom or the Devils. The third movement (Anima Mundi) is loads of fun, but the second movement (One Man Show) is simply awful. Quite possibly my least favorite show section of the entire night, I didn't like the music, the design, or the execution. By August it might be fine, but as of right now this show is lagging behind the upper echelon. Badly. Strong points: Percussion, Brass, Visual Effect. Weak points: Guard, Visual execution, Musical ensemble.

General Commentary
-- Did I miss the memo that said "all Visual programs must be flying around the field at all times?" Speed was OVERdone, in my opinion. Phantom's visual book had it's fast moments, but it was a breath of fresh air: it was well designed and MADE SENSE, it wasn't just a bunch of running from 30 to 30.
-- Seemed like there was a lot of rehashing going on: Pacific Crest utilizes these metal cube-frames, kinda reminded me of the Cavaliers' "planet" in 1995; Pacific Crest and Mandarins both were doing old Phantom numbers; Blue Devils tossing in a bit of West Side Story, and doing a show-off section like the Cadets.
-- When Phantom's score was announced ahead of SCV, a group of die-hard SCV fans and/or alums (a very SMALL group, like 10-20) booed loudly. Classless. I don't think there was a person in that stadium (including the majority of the Vanguard supporters) that honestly believed SCV's show was better than Phantom's on Saturday night. It's just not clean enough yet.
-- Vanguard's show got off to a bit of a rough start, too: one of the horn players collided with the percussion judge.

JUDGES SAID (Actual Scores):
81.85 Blue Devils
78.10 Phantom Regiment
77.00 Santa Clara Vanguard
72.95 Blue Knights
70.50 Seattle Cascades
69.35 Mandarins
67.00 Pacific Crest
59.30 Troopers

PHANTOM SAID (My scoring):
81.00 Blue Devils
80.00 Phantom Regiment
77.50 Santa Clara Vanguard
70.50 Seattle Cascades (nailed it!)
70.00 Blue Knights
69.50 Mandarins
65.50 Pacific Crest
60.50 Troopers

Phantom Phan's Captions:
Musical Effect - Phantom Regiment
Visual Effect - Blue Devils
TOTAL EFFECT - Phantom Regiment
Visual Performance - Blue Devils
Visual Ensemble - Blue Devils
Color Guard - Phantom Regiment
TOTAL VISUAL - Blue Devils
High Brass - Phantom Regiment
High Percussion - Blue Devils
Musical Ensemble - Phantom Regiment
TOTAL MUSIC - Phantom Regiment

Phantom Phan

After missing last year's show I was determined not to miss this one. Especially since Phantom Regiment would be there. Last night was a great evening of drum corps. Almost everything was perfect - from the weather to the performances. I will explain the "almost everything" shortly.

**Disclaimer/flame retardant/whatever you want to call it -- The views expressed here are strictly mine, sometimes very blunt (I call it as I see it), and involve what I am calling "soapbox moments". Persons with weak constitutions or who cannot tolerate any form of criticism or "negative" commentary should stop reading now (I'll wait).

After picking up the tickets from will call we cruised souvenir alley. Best find: PR bobblehead that's sitting on my computer desk and soon will have his uniform tunic painted white. Best tour shirt of the night: SCV (fun! ...and the woman who sold it to me was the designer!)

Hayward State has a campus set into a hillside with its stadium overlooking the view (of the San Francisco Bay). It's a nice venue except for the hard seats (expected) and poorly maintained field. There were patches of grass missing and a weird checkerboard pattern burned into it. My friend and I were 11 rows up and on the 45-yard line. Not bad. We had a lot of room around us until after intermission. SOAPBOX MOMENT - (hereafter indicated by "**") - Why do people pay for a show and then only come for half (or, in this case less than half) of it? In my book that is a waste of money, impolite to the performers and those of us they interrupted with their arrival. Yes, there are exceptions (work until "x" time) but at least 30 people filled in my immediate vicinity after intermission.

It was nice to have Brandt Crocker announcing (The "Voice of DCI"). He's great. We usually get some radio "personality" who doesn't know a drum from a window seat and reads from the program. The show moved at a nice pace and was pretty much on track with the times posted in the program throughout.

On with the show --

RENEGADES -- I was really looking forward to these guys and was somewhat disappointed. The music was good and loud with lots of sop screamers and good playing throughout but the visual aspect was a mess. Guard was out of sync and the drill was very dirty. Once cleaned this show will be very exciting.

FEVER - This young group (only around since December of 2002) has a great sound and a lot of talent. They are playing a difficult horn book of Holsinger music. They reminded me of Pacific Crest in their first year. Hopefully they do as well.

BLUE DEVIL "C" - I still think it's cruel to stick a horn into a six-year-old's hands and then watch him/her wander aimlessly around a football field. It is a nice training program, though. BD starts 'em young.

** Speaking of young, why do people insist on bringing small (younger than 8) children to these shows? A couple behind us had two girls (about 3 and 5 years old) with them. The older one talked without stopping ("why is he alone" "why is he drum major" why did they turn around" "why is there a fire truck here") and the younger one could not stay in her seat to save her life. In fact she kept sliding down the bleacher rows and using us a "stopping cushion", kicking one of us each time. After about 10 times, my friend, who was taking photos (I'll post a link after they are edited) turned around a shouted "Will you please stop kicking me!?" She didn't bother us after that. One word parents - "baby-sitter"; if you can't get one, don't go. Maybe the organizers should offer "child free zones. **

BLUE DEVIL "B" - They have some nice moments but nothing stood out. I thought that Fever had beaten them. It seemed like the music was above their skill level.

SCV CADETS - Big corps. Nice sound. Complex show. If they go to Orlando, they could make DIV I semis again. Aside from a strange petroglyph-like guard prop the show is well conceived and well performed.

PACIFIC CREST -- Watch out Orlando! These guys are strong. Great sound. Fun use of chrome cubes that catch the light and shimmer when spun. Hard drill and music. I loved this show.

** I know the reviews are getting shorter but I am in a rush to get this posted. **

TROOPERS -- Always great to see these guys. They have the best souvie truck, don't they? My friend thought it was fun. They are small for DIV I but have a full sound, difficult drill and some good music. I hope they place better this year.

MANDARINS -- They get our vote for the best uniforms. All of the music is great except for the closer (Samson and Delilah). It doesn't fit in. They would be better off changing it to the finale of the "Polovtsian Dances". Are they competing in DVI I in Orlando? As always, a very elegant guard with difficult equipment work. A great show.

Intermission brought a trip to the food stalls (Garlic pepper steak burger). My friend stayed up top to eat and was back in the seats (which had filled with latecomers) for...

SEATTLE CASCADES - Great sound, great show, and great performers. These guys will stay in the top 12. There aren't enough good things to say about them. It's nice to see Washington state back and strongly represented.

BLUE KNIGHTS - Visually it is well done but the Cascades could pass these guys if they don't add some excitement to this show. The music is, well, boring. Horrible guard uniforms! I felt bad for them.

PHANTOM REGIMENT - I LOVE THESE GUYS!!!!!! Great show that could win it all this year. Back in the white uniforms that look great on the field. The first show of the night that had me thinking, "it's over already?" Beautiful sound. Hard drill with many "jaw-drop moments". Thanks for coming to California, PR!

BLUE DEVILS - Very clean and exciting but easier than PR and SCV but unless the difficulty is increased in this show they will be passed up as PR and SCV clean their shows. LOUD! COOL! I kept thinking that the guard unis made the females look about 13 or 14 years old. Good use of the entire field but the corps does not open itself up to exposed groups like PR.

SCV - A very eclectic show. Moreso than past years. The music is hard to grasp onto and fascinating at the same time. Very dirty and very difficult. If they do clean it, it could be one of the most incredible things seen in recent years. I don't know if I like it or not.

I did not stay for scores (they were on the Internet when I got home). I did stop at the Troopers souvie booth and buy a shirt. Love them Troopers. It's fun to hear from the out-of-state corps personnel. This time it was, "love the weather". A good end to the evening.


Allentown, PA (DCI Atlantic)

The place...newly redone J Birney Crum Stadium, Allentown PA. it just felt so good walking thru the gates. hell, Wieseman got on his hands and knees and kissed the concrete. field looks great, track doesnt make the corps seem further away.

(quick funny story...Friday night, Mikey calls me from Meadowlands to hear Bluecoats....i'm at a minor league basebal game( i missed the grand slam for this) and as i am listening to the corps, the mom for Bluecoats Dm walks up to we both listened. funny how stuff like that works.oh and Ian, call your mom)

i realize it was a small show, but organizers, please two things. corps souvie aeras along the walkway between the decks is not good. use the hill behind the scoreboard. also, 6 we really need an intermission? i dont think so. granted, it gave me a chance for a funnel cake run, but i didnt need that either :)

familiar faces...YEA and Blasts Chris Rutt first face i saw ( dude i owe you), some Shore alum in the park, and a ton of people in the stadium, including Geoffrey( i do hope we were spied on). George, you never suck. :)

vantage point: 40 yard line, top row of the lower deck. new seats not as wide as the old ones...fat asses dont fit well.

The corps:

Jersey Surf: this show is very very fun, and creatively designed. "Summer at the Jersey Shore", complete w/the latest in Surf colored Shore wear. kicking off w/a huge park and bark of "School's Out for the summer", we also heard On the Waterfront mixed in w/Wipeout(nice pit feature) fact at one point the corps is playing waterfront and the pit is jamming Wipeout. other summer tunes heard were Hawaii 5-0, Surfer Girl, and one more that escapes me.

The corps had a great sound at the beginning of the show....then they moved and that sound left. the visual package needs a lot of attention......especially in the area where those two snares wiped out. feet were everywhere....i know, i know it's June. it still needs a lot of work. usual strong Surf drumline, who played some cool licks, and let bass 1 jam for wipeout too. hornline right now, when standing still is the Parking Lot Cadets champions of the world. Now, they need to do that on the move.

all in all, if surf cleans up, D2 will have a player from the Joisey Shore.

The big boys.

Carolina Crown. I enjoy the new unis, and the plume being off center didnt bother me as much as i thought. However, at times when there is no form clarity in the show, it makes them look like one white blob. The show...i highly enjoyed Crown and thought they should have beaten Glassmen. The brass opening statement was the sound Crown should have had 3 years ago. deep, dark, and in your face, not the old Crown controlled boring. Guard unis look nice, and fit the show, and, look good on 95% of the bodies. usual strong Crown drumline, ad let me tell you...THAT PIT DOESNT NEED AMPED. The scoring for "Stained Glass" percussively was gorgeous, and all in all, if they clean the feet, they have a shot at top 12.

Glassmen. I wanted to like the show. it started off solidly, and the music actually had my attention at first. The drill, while not up to past levels, was eye catching. Then, as the show wore on, i realized that emotionally, i wasnt going anywhere, because the corps wasnt. Some very odd transitions musically, especially in the drum book, and the brass never goes above a light forte. guard did nothing to make me remember them, and in all, given the execution issues in all sections, i think Crown should have beaten them by more than they beat Crown.

(then again, i heard Cadets were 4th in drums, so i am even more lost on DCI judging than ever)

intermission. no one has any damn cool tshirts. god i cant wait for East when i see more corps.

Cavaliers. I was prepared not to like them just due to overhype...i didnt think they could live up to it. They do almost.

guard unis: horrid. what annoyed me most about them is this...they have some of the most gorgeous flags i have ever seen, and not a damn one of em goes w/that's one huge visual color clash, and it detracts from those when they do flag work. I agree w/Geoffrey, it does seem they are taking guard to a new plain, as in the beginning they do more running round doing that cheesy arm thing every indoor guard does, but they are very athletic. but god those unis are horrid.

Visually, no one's feet looks like them...they key to beating them is getting your feet that good, or outplaying them by a mile. very cool how they work the spin idea into everything. it's a very deep visual show, well thought out and well performed. greatest ever? no, as at times, it's like "how many visual gimmicks can we cram in 11 minutes". However it so so well performed, i thought they should have scored higher. not as many individual feet issues as i had read, but thats good thing.

musically: drums play nothing above a 16th roll or diddle pattern on the move. then, when they did stop and "throw down" a little, it was dirtier than sin. this is probably the only corps that plays better on the move. in fact, it sounded like sneakers in the dryer. pit was scored very well, but didnt carry up soundwise like past years. brass line plays nothing over an 8th note moving, and same as the drums...the standtill sections were dirty. They have a balanced sound, and the max out the low end, they need to max out the high end. to make their softs softer, i suggest letting the louds be louder. the sop screamer was cool, and the groove section, while reminiscent of past shows, needs more...attitude. it felt like lame white boy groove...kick it out. Ending is being redone soon, and i am glad, cause the ending left us all going "huh"

this show is more enjoyable than last years musically...but it could be so much more. i realize it;s june, but i really hope they let the corps loose like in 00 and 01, as opposed to reserved like last year.

Cadets. 2nd viewing, first time seeing the whole show done. Warmup is shorter than last time, and obviously Hoppy is going to have to que every announcer out there. Dm does salute now, which was cool. fanfare is also shorter, tho the tempo doesnt kick up like at gettysburg, which made it seem longer. drumline was missing 2 snares and a tenor, but this show i got to see the full bassline. holes or no, they wailed. 4th in drums? right, and my high school team will go undefeated til i die. visually a lot of individual feet errors, and the new guard unis look nice, but dont really do anything.

Malaguena...again, i liked it, and i am sick of this song. cowbell mounted to snare effect works and the halftime afro cuban groove saw cadets snares playing flam stuff i never dreamed possible. guard added a sash to be more Spanish themed and had some cool dance stuff. brass of course wailed(i'll tough this issue more) visually, a lot of standstill, and that may hurt them. plus, when they standstill, some people get into it, some people are robot like. staff, teach them to loosen up and get into may help you overcome the long downtimes visually.

Rocky Point. loved it. ending seems to need a little chopping, but the Zpull brought me to my feet. tempo not at finals level yet, and the feet have issues at the current tempo.hornline seemed to run out of gas, and my guess is because they let loose in Malaguena. hopefully its a stamina issue they can over come, unlike last year where after Boogie Woogie they had no gas for the finale.

putting your eggs into one basket musically is dangerous. it hurt the Cadets last year. staff, get the brass chops up for Rocky. the tune everyone wnats to hear you play most is the one you need to have your horses running full steam for.

Now this wont win. it's like 2001, stuff thrown together. Sure fans love the songs, but even w/my favorite things tying it together, it's missing that one unifying element. i dunno, maybe Hoppy really does need the amps( i could hear their pit fine too)

Crossmen. Opening of Somewhere Over The Rainbow is gorgeous. the guard staging and use of the colored fabric is well done. i liked the addition of the white dress on the solo dancer. as the groove picks up....the corps is not a 72. feet issues galore. individual music issues. drumline is either dead on clean or dead on dirty. Now that i have seen it finished, as opposed to gettysburg, it's like the staff took every cool Crossmen moment of the last 6 years and threw it into one show, minus Birdland (thank you). wait look...drum racks sitting way off to the side of the field. thats an eyesore. they draw your eyes to the end zones for 8 minutes when they just sit there.

drum solo drill move last year was cool. drum parts could be cool if clean. brassline seems solid, but they need to work ensemble between all sections, especially in Blue Rondo...ensemble issues galore.

Closer was cool, and oh look the drum racks. nice idea, moving them around while the snares wail away. note to drum staff...milk the build into the horn rentry made it anticlimatic by wailing so long you lose the effect. also dear god, please, clean that stuff up when you move.

i wanted to like them...but they leave me flat. way too many individual and ensemble issues, and, the show feels like one big rehash, right down to holding the last note forever like in 97.

I am hoping next week at hershey i see more that makes me go "i like"

scores...everyone where they should be except Crown. Crossmens score too high IMO.

got to meet Kat from DCp after the show...what a sweety, and having the time of her life in cadets.

we closed the a lot. still nice to be the last ones in the lot having a good time.

next review hershey.
Jeff Ream

Ah, J. Birney Crum Stadium. The place looks... the same as it did in '99, except the away stands are totally gone. Anyway before I get onto my review I'd like to convey my serious, yet normal disappointment in YEA. Somehow, they expected people to pay $25 per person to get inside the 30 yard lines and $50 to get in the "premium" seats inside the 40 yard lines. Seats in the upper section of the stadium were not even being sold. I payed for a cheap seat way down front, then moved in towards the 40 yard line in the 31st row. Thanks, YEA!

Onto the review...

Jersey Surf. "Down the Shore with Jersey Surf" is, if nothing else, entertaining. They played a medley of beach/surf songs... Beach Boys tunes, Hawaii Five-O, Wipeout, etc etc... Sloppy drill with bad transitions but horns werent bad. 2 snare players fell down over top of each other.

Carolina Crown. Wow. "Bell-isimo" really is a terrific show. Jason Buckingham really has made them sound great. Fountains of Rome Mvt. 2 was gorgeous. Not sure how the percussion did, ask Jeff Ream, I was sitting with him. They must've been decent, I was told they beat Cadets and Cavies at Meadowlands. Visually, overall I think the design is pretty good. As everyone seemed to have tonight, they had a transition problem or too. But some really effective things are going on. Unfortunately, execution has to be whats hurting them, forms are dirty at times. Uniforms look really nice. Cant help but think Star '93 when you see them, but they do make Crown look a lot more professional. Nice show, I like Crown this year! Wow!

Glassmen. "Elements" was executed pretty well, although the only element I really recognized was fire, and only because of the large pieces of red fabric the gaurd used. Nice visual package, Nice hornline. Standard Glassmen-style show that is pretty clean already. Nothing memorable, except when they played "October" by Eric Whitacre. Really nice sound during this section. Didnt like that one part though where there's not really anything going on... the horns are barely playing but they're scampering from one spot to the next. Maybe thats a re-write that they havent done yet. I dunno. Glassmen were clean, but I liked Crown's show and sound better.

INTERMISSION. Yay, funnel cake and a drink for $5.00. Must not be a YEA! stand.

Cavaliers. "Spin Cycle" is really intriguing. As always, you see what you hear and you hear what you see. Great visual package, lots of visual "gimmicks" (maybe thats the wrong word...) but every single one of those visual gimmicks has a purpose. Jeff Ream pointed that out and I agree with him. Some corps inserted gimmicks in their show that didn't fit, or weren't portraying the music. Everything the Cavaliers do is portrayed to reflect the music. Very controlled horn sound, didnt really open up to the loud volumes I was hoping for, I'm sure they will once they are more confident with the show. Show isnt finished, ending was anti-climactic and I know thats not Cavies style... Some really memorable moments, when they are sitting down and the soloists (1 horn, 1 rifle) are doing that thing together... The spinning move in the beginning, etc.

Cadets. I'm sorry, but I really dont think "Our Favorite Things" can compete with the creativity that the Cavaliers have in their show. Not sure why the corps needs to do the on-field warm up while the announcer is asking if the corps is ready. What does this have to do with "Our Favorite Things?" Show is in 3 very distinct sections that are sort of forced into making up a show. To be honest I dont think they go together very well. Sort of like in 2001, I really really like each section of the show, but they dont go together. Not all that memorable.

Crossmen. "Colors" wasn't bad at all. Entertaining, horns sounded a little crass but its early. I question the hornline drill during the drum solo, but hey whatever works. Decent show, decent sound, not sure about percussion. Colorful flags were nice. I like the impact point where the guard pulls up the fabric like a rainbow behind the guard soloist. That was nice. All around an ok show, nothing blew me away, but it was nice.

Hope that helps for those of you who havent seen these corps yet. Responses are welcome...


Spinning Into The Future

(note that this is my first viewing of all the corps at this contest except Crossmen & Cadets - so my comments will be kept pretty brief and general - I'll do a more detailed review of the corps following later viewings)

The Venue:
Allentown J. Birney Crum Stadium (light's are brighter, turf in better shape but REALLY far away from the stands now with patches of grass and wide track around the field which has been pushed back far from the stands - not good, metal bleacher seats renumbered to cram more buts in the stands - upper deck not refurbished and closed for this event - if it is done by East I'll eat my hat). Crowd not that big - lots and lots of empty seats between the 40's.

The Host: In typical YEA! fashion - they are too busy creating magnificent human beings to print up stadium charts to assist the folks selling / purchasing tickets. Don't think I've ever been to a ticket window in my history of live event attendance when neither the purchaser nor the purchaser has a chart of where the seats are. Staff helpful - but first set sold me as "on the forty" where actually on the 24 - then I returned to swap them - given tickets "as high up as we've got on the forty" which were in the 6th row. When the show was about to start - there was a very large block of unsold tickets in rows 25-35 behind me - so up I moved. Arghh! (thanks staff for being so helpful - but the organization of the proceedings sucked) Also in typical YEA! fashion - no real performance of the National Anthem - just a recording. Argh! The announcer (very good btw) was given a script comprised mainly of references to YEA!'s mission and calls for supporting their efforts to "Make Music Matter" which was repeated probably 100 times during the drawn out three hours. "Making Music Matter" is something I deeply believe in - hearing it over and over for three hours made me want to puke.

The Corps:

Jersey Surf:
Large, energetic corps with oodles of potential this season and a good deal of work still to do. The drill does a good job of maximizing visual interest while keeping the demands appropriate for the memberships' time commitment and experience level. Crowd loved the fun repertoire. Corps started strong and sank - as the opening statement remained unmatched for the rest of the performance --- but I am positive the whole program will rock and be very slick come August. Drumline, guard and brassline all big and talented - you can just feel the potential -- should be Surfs best outing in it's history. Bravo!

Wow. What a wonderful statement the new unis make - the corps looks huge and ten feet tall in these striking cream unis with purple accents. Guard uniforms fit the overall them of the program very well - (Gold and Silver = Bells) but perhaps more thought should be put into fitting the unis to each member and each adapting them to each members' body type.

Wow - what a wonderful sound the percussion and brass of Crown are making --- and it's only June! This corps will be the best Crown outing in it's history. The drill does a great job of placing instruments appropriately on the field and creating a mood. Best moment in the program so far - the ballad - which really opened up the sound and expression of the brassline. Good shaping (dynamically) in this piece. Great job - expect Crown in finals this season == program will be in 90's come August.

New uniforms = too much black. But very slimming and professional look on the field. Corps' program very serious - with long, drawn out passages = difficult to maintain audience interest. Good points include great use of ethnic drums and accessory sounds to create interesting sounds. Good brass sound but lacked dynamic shaping and warmth at times, other times lack power. Guard has good potential this season. Expect Glassmen to solidly return to finals == program will be in 90's come August.

Spin Cycle dominated this night in terms of design, creativity, entertainment and performance level, and points... I have seen the future and it is spinning. Haven't seen BD or PR yet - but do not expect Cadets to top Cavaliers this season. Margin of victory too small, IMO. Weaknesses: field coverage weaker than recent seasons - with the corps drawn in pretty tight to create swirls and spinning drill movements in various places of the program; brass lacks power and warm sound - expect it to add in as season rolls along - talent obviously there. Strengths - design (all aspects), talent level, performance intensity, creativity. Guard uniforms fit the program great, not only in terms of color & design, but also in terms of functionality -- these guys need the pads - they roll throughout the program. The spinning movements in the entire corps left me dizzy. Following Cavaliers the next two corps felt like "blasts from the past" 8 & 12 years respectively.

Ok - what happened to the brain trust / creativity committee in Jersey? This is the third year in a row of amateur (at best) program design and IMO the kids in the corps are being let down. Obviously a hard working and talented membership. Issues: warmup is bizarre and confuses audience and feels out of place with the rest of the program. Opener flat, choppy and goes no where musically - just when you think it might - bam! time for another guard solo or drum break. Drill evolutions seem slow motion following Cavaliers. Feet are bad, individual visual tech bad. Drums have three (four?) holes - sound it. Guard unis are now a deep read - stand out against the corps proper like a green lizard stands out in a jungle. Guard is often bunched up in small ensembles and rarely makes a big general statement - and sad thing is they are VERY good and very talented. Malaguena - I am so sick of this song it isn't funny (and yea! next year WSS, also sick of). The number is abrupt (VERY) following the opener which is just as out of place following the intro. It is too long, too choppy, too much park and play and not loud enough. In other words, I didn't like the design aspects one bit. The kids were great. Closer - yikes - abrupt turn again. Too choppy, slow drill evolutions, poor instrument staging, too many drum breaks and why, why, why??? does Rocky Point have to feature every other tune in the program in it's MIDDLE - save the recap for the Z pull - which right now you can see coming five minute away. Uniforms - fix the jacket / cummerbund issue (it goes on the outside).

Very solid corps but very predictable and uncreative program. Really felt like I was watching Xmen back in early 90's - not a bad thing but just strange after Cavaliers 21st century performance. Drill is a bit of an improvement over last seasons'. Drum line quite good -- but the racks in the closer blocked (visually) the rest of the corps too much for too long. Guard good and silk work good (nice silks btw) but not very well staged. Brass best Crossmen line in years (ever?) but tires and gets pretty ragged as the program wears on. Solid finals corps - just new ideas at a premium in this production.

Closing - sorry my review was so negative - all the corps were very talented, big and well equipped (new unis, instruments, etc abound) but several programs let down in the design aspects.

In terms of "fun to watch"

1. Cavaliers
2. Crown
3. Surf
4. Xmen
5. Cadets
6. Glassmen

In terms of the "real" scores
Felt that Cavaliers were further head (not a higher scores, I guess others should have been pushed lower by their standard) than the official results indicated (more like 5/6 points). Crown deserved better / IMO. Recaps were strange.

-- I'll do a more detailed review of corps later in the season - hopefully I'll be more cheerful then

Thanks for reading,

ALLENTOWN, Pa. -- The Cavaliers flexed their muscles as a contender to defend their Drum Corps International championship as they best five Division I corps at YEA's "Music in Motion Lehigh Valley" at the beautifully renovated J. Birney Crum Stadium before a perfect weather night. A larger and fun-loving Jersey Surf opened the night as the only corps in Division II.

On the surface, it appeared as if the Cavies "Spin Cycle" program was in a league of its own visually as the corps posted 80.65, while The Cadets' "Our Favorite Things" presented the best musical package for their second-place score of 78.05. But upon reviewing the recaps, it was the 1.5-margin over the Cadets in music that propelled the winners, while they were just one-tenth better in the visual category. That must be encouraging news for the Cadets' visual staff, which probably feels like it has more growth room musically with its program of recognizable drum corps favorites.

The Cavaliers (2DM-64B-29P-36CG) incorporate a spinning visual package throughout their program -- right from the first move that starts with spinning in the middle of a linear form, and then progresses it outward throughout the corps. The corps eventually resolves in a full opening statement -- that is controlled, but not the loudest of the night. The guard uniforms of florescent green spandex biker outfits also try and sell the theme.

Like the last two Cavalier championship shows, this edition is a visual masterpiece -- possibly better than last year's, if that's possible -- which is put in motion by its original music. The key again, it appears, is that the visual program is the priority, followed by the musical impact. It's a formula that has worked the last two years -- remember that the 2000 co-champs didn't do original music -- so it makes sense for the staff to stay with something that works. That means that while the program generates the gasps and wild applause from the crowd, most of it is for the phenomenal package to the eyes, and not as much the ears. The music is perfectly played and controlled, but certainly isn't the engaging aspect of the show for the fans.

The battery (10S-5T-5B) particularly appears to be more of a background medium for much of the show -- except for a well done and rather long feature that resolves visually with a brass block, filled with the color guard like last years' show, only on the other side of the field. The percussion, which also has nine in the pit, has a book more reminiscent of last year's program, than the dominant presence it had in 2000. Still, it doesn't appear to be hurting unit's effort, as it's 15.60 was good enough for a resounding one-point victory over the surprising second-place Crossmen in the caption.

The Cadets' (2DM-66B-30P-34CG) music is as familiar as the Cavaliers' is unfamiliar -- possibly too familiar in their "Our Favorite Things" program of three unrelated drum corps favorites. The problem for the corps may be that two of the numbers were made famous by other championship drum corps -- "Fanfare and Allegro" by the Santa Clara Vanguard and "Malaguena," most notably by the Madison Scouts. While the Cadets are certainly adding their own touches to these favorites, they're going to be hard-pressed to capture the precision and impact -- particularly with B-flat horns -- of SCV's "Fanfare" -- or the energy or sheet power of the Scouts' "Malaguena." Only "Rocky Point Holiday" is a favorite the Cadets can call their own, but it doesn't seem to work as well as a closer as it did so well as the opener in 1983. It also appears as if most of the attention has been spent on the first two numbers thus far, since the show definitely loses some of its steam in the closer.

That said, the Cadets do capture the crowd because of the familiar music, which is framed from the controversial moving warm-up throughout the program by "Our Favorite Things." That song is played while the announcer introduces the corps, and gradually melds into the classic double-rank endzone entry off "Fanfare and Allegro." It seemed to make sense to this author, particularly since the Cadets aren't the first corps to attempt a thematic and moving warm-up, although others in the crowd seemed perplexed.

This program is cut from the same cloth as the 2001 "Juxtaperformance" show, only better packaged with an improved visual program and the "Our Favorite Things" reference throughout. The 2001 show seemed to lack cohesion, and this one clearly attempts to tie them all together. All units appear strong, although the brass will need more punch by season's end in the Florida heat to really make this show a contender. The percussion (9S -- with one hole tonight -- 5T-5B-11PP), was much more exposed than the Cavaliers, and seemed to have greater impact, yet was buried by the judges with a disappointing fourth-place finish (14.00). One thing that will seem different for the Cadets, is mounted cowbells on the snares to play "Malaguena."

One thing that may have hampered that unit is something that detracts from the corps' visual program -- the "revised" uniforms, which appear like a cheaper high school band version of the traditional Cadet look. Two of the white cross sashes in the battery came loose tonight during the performance -- one a snare drummer, and another in the toms -- and were dangling in front of them as they tried to play. The fit of the jackets is obviously different and not as flattering for the corps, with more of the jacket appearing to collect at the midsection and separate from the now more yellow than gold cummerbunds. From a distance, they still look like the Cadets, but they just don't seem to fit as well individually.

Otherwise, all units appear strong with this corps, and they could be a "darkhorse" by the time championships roll around.

This was apparently the Crossmen (2DM-62B-33P-36CG) home show, as they went on last. That didn't keep them from being one of the crowd favorites with their popular "Colors" program. This show is full of "in your face" drum corps tunes -- starting with the "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" opener, that resolves with the color guard hoisted the colors of the rainbow in front of the corps proper. It's obviously that color guard is designed to provide the actual "color" in this program, since the corps propers' grey, silver and black uniforms -- and guard's grey jumpsuits -- are really void of color. Even the drums of the battery (9S-4T-5B-5C-10PP) are black Yamaha's.

But the crowd loves the hummable melodies providing the jazz club colors. The brass cranks out some big sounds, and the monstrous battery supports well. There are a lot of "park and play" segments in this show, which is somewhat reminiscent to the old Spirit of Atlanta shows of the mid-1980s. The drum line has an extended solo in "Blue Ronda ala Turk," which some many corps have done before. While it is performed proficiently and is receiving credit from the judges and the crowd, it seems to lack some of the flavor of those classics before it. "Count Bubba" is a swinging, in your face mass, to the front sideline number designed to clearly entertain the crowd. It does just that, although it will be interesting to see the scoring potential of this show as the season progress. It does not appear to have the visual demand of last year's production, although does have a similar feel to the jazz clubs' show of two years ago -- and that one certainly did well at season's end. On this night, it was good enough for a solid third -- putting some distance between themselves and the Glassmen and Carolina Crown with a 72.35.

Sadly, it's true that the Glassmen (2DM-58B-30P-36CG) and their 2003 program, "The Elements: Air, Earth, Fire and Water," seem very much in the same mold as the last two. There's obviously some talent on the field, challenge to what they're being asked to do, solid execution of it, and even some nice moments. But overall, this program comes up flat in terms of impact and connection with the crowd. The Glassmen need to rely on their execution to score, because they probably won't be able to feed off the crowd support since the show, once again, borders on abstract. The execution -- particularly in the brass, and more obvious black pants and shoes vs. Carolina Crown's cream pants and white shoes -- was the difference between fourth and fifth tonight, with Glassmen taking it with a 69.8.

While Glassmen's brass appear much-improved from a year ago -- as evidenced by their surprising second-place finish tonight -- the percussion (8S -- with one hole tonight -- 5T-5B-11PP), minus Colin McNutt, are down -- finishing a pretty distant last among D-I corps (13.40). The "Fire" percussion feature has some nice ideas, but just isn't executed up to past Glassmen standards.

There are some new things -- like new corps uniforms. The Star Trek references that have previously been made are accurate, only Star Trek uniforms are more colorful. These are pretty much the same black-and-white (cream) look of the past, although the white portion now extends to the top half of the sleeve too. The Glassmen triangle is now purple against the black field on the uniform top -- pretty hard to see from a distance. The corps pretty much looks black-and-white. The guard provides the colors, although with purple over olive green body suits. The show -- while performed well -- is also void of color, at least right now.

Carolina Crown (1DM-59B-31P-32CG) obviously has the most dramatic uniform change of the season. While some might argue that title belongs to the Madison Scouts, the Scouts still have at least a similar look with white hats, green tops and white pants and shoes. Crown, on the other hand, went from purple jackets and black shakos, pants and shoes, to an all cream uniform with modest purple accents. They do look a lot like Star of Indiana from 1993, although with shakos that have the plume positioned on the performer's left side of the hat.

But Crown first cracked the top 12 with an all-white uniform, and the staff appears to be returning to its roots with "Bell-issimo" program. With 14 in the pit, in addition to a battery of 7S-5T-5B -- there are bells, bells and more bells, right from the opening notes. The whole idea works -- very well, with an expansive drills, that gets its first brass impact from a long company front reminsicent of the first impact in "Stormworks." The "Carol of the Bells" closer was one of the most memorable numbers of the night, and could be a drum corps classic come August.

The key to Crown's Top 12 return with be execution/performance. It's holding this program back right now, although it seems better designed than the G-men's. This corps has never been one of the best with the feet, and they're back to being more exposed with the cream pants and white shoes. Every error sticks out right now, but they'll only get better as the season wears on. One good support for the visual program is that the guard appears to be back after last year's disappointing season. It has interesting uniforms -- wearing something that looks like the metal version of their "Wood, Rubber, Metal" program from two years ago. They're highly metallic in appearance, with copper, gold and silver -- but that makes sense to fit the "bells" theme. The corps also needs to generate more impact from the brass, but that too should come with more confidence in the feet. As for now, fifth at 68.3

While Jersey Surf was competing in Division II, its size (2DM-46B-28P-24CG) made the corps look like it was Division I. Now its uniforms on the other hand -- white visors, white T-shirts with blue sleeves, blue-and-white shorts, and grey aqua shoes with white socks -- are a different story. Of course, the creative team is trying to sell the corps' "Down the Shore with the Jersey Surf" theme through the uniforms, which will certainly make the unit the most comfortable in Orlando. They also might be the only corps that can practice in their uniforms.

Just like last year, this show is designed to be fan friendly, and grabs its attention as they corps goes from sitting in its "classroom" rows to wandering to the front sideline and parking and blowing "School's Out for Summer." That number was played previously by another fan favorite -- the Velvet Knights -- and Surf seems like it's trying to take over that role. They'll probably have to fight Impulse for it in D-II prelims in Orlando. It should be fun to view this show by then, since this may have been the corps' first competition. The program seemed to end early -- after a fun rendition of "Wipeout on the Waterfront" -- with the guard work ending even before that. It's probably tougher for Surf to complete its program in June since it's only a weekend corps, although that doesn't seem to have stopped Pacific Crest. Still, a 57.25 was a good opening night score.

All and all, it was enjoyable first show of the drum corps season -- particularly returning to Allentown's Crum Stadium, which contains so many drum corps memories. Fans making it there for DCI Eastern Championships will find many improvements -- including metal bleachers in much of the lower middle section, a handicapped viewing area, and all-weather track, and a new artificial field surface. The only concern might still be the upper level of bleachers, which appear as splintered and rickety ever.

There were some disappointments on the night too. First and foremost was the pull-out by the Boston Crusaders for obvious health concerns. All in the activity hope the Crusaders are now returning to full strength and ready for their season opener today.

But with the show reduced from seven corps to six, fans might have appreciated a full retreat -- or at least a victory concert by the Cavaliers. Instead there was a drum major only retreat and announcement of scores before sending the fans home. More than one was heard to say that it was an anti-climatic ending to the evening -- particularly those people who spent $50 for the best seats. They may have enjoyed the time spent on a retreat, more than the 25-minute intermission after just three corps. They had nothing else to show for their money than great seats and a free lousy program on newsprint, which vendors were selling for $2 in the stadium. It hardly seemed like much of deal for the "Super Seats," which used to come with a program, preferred parking, and a picnic lunch for about $15 less. With YEA's stated "concern for the future of drum corps," it might want to turn that concern towards its fan base, which may think twice about paying inflated prices while getting less for its dollar -- particularly with such dramatic activities planned for the activity in the future. One would certainly hope that the increase in prices isn't paying for the purchase of high-tech ampflication equipment to be used next season.

Mike Ferlazzo

Went to the show in Allentown PA the other night and here is a review...... (Sorry for any typos) Weather: Pretty comfortable with little humidity. Approximately 77 degrees. National Anthem: Was a recording of the Cadets

Jersey Surf: The surf bring us great songs associated with the beach experience and do it quite well as a Div 2 corps. The hornline starts right on the front sideline behind the pit and play a really nice in your face opening. All parts of the corps (Horns,drums,pit,color guard) perform really well but right now there is a lot of front to back and side to side drum and horns phasing. They seem to march fairly well so I am sure they are going to spend a lot of time now on the phasing issues.

Summary:Very fun beach tunes arranged in a unique and enjoyable way. Looking forward to seeing them again at their home show in a couple of weeks.

Crown: I really like the direction this corps has taken this year with a very musical and accessable show. The pit is really good and one could watch them the entire show. They actually have 2 kedal drum players. The color guard did a very good job. Towards the end of the show the drumline and color guard do a great job during a drum feature.

Summary: Nice choice of music and probably a corps that will make the top 12.

Glassmen: After reading a few reviews of the Glassmen's show I think I was expecting more accessible musical choices. The hornline plays with a nice full sound but some of the arrangements are written in a way that where they can be playing 8 counts of a whole note they are only playing 4. They kind of tease the crowd (In a bad sort of way) with a big sound and backoff quickly. The marching was pretty Glassmen good as well as the drill design. The drumline was a bit sloppy for the Glassmen.

Summary: Some parts of their show grab you but just for a second. The kids are doing really well but again I feel that the arrangements have to be more cohesive. With all of the competition this season the Glassmen may drop a spot or 2 when it is all said and done in August.

Cavaliers: Drill wise and color guard wise this corps has a really nice amazing show. The show starts "Spinning" from the very first note. Musically I don't really like what they are trying to do. I think I have gradually become more detached each year (2000,2001,2002) from what they are playing. With the great warm sound that they have it would be a real treat to hear a lot more of it. The arrangements don't allow it. The corps seemed to perform a little flatter compared to the previous night's show at Giant Stadium The pit and drumline do a fine job when they are featured.

Summary: The ending is still not finished (I am sure they will add some tricks soon). I really give all the credit in the world to the kids in this corps. They are pulling off some amazing stuff. The show itself is just not my cup of tea.

Cadets: The hornline seemed to have a shakier night than the previous..... especially the trumpets in the opener. The drumline is really cooking and I feel they are the best line that I have seen. The color guard did a fine job and I find the music to be really enjoyable. A lot of people have said they dislike the music because they don't feel that it really defines a theme. Well..... corps have been playing theme shows for quite a while now and I find it quite refreshing to hear a few different styles of music in the same show. Plus, I feel they tie the music together well through the arrangements which make references (Especially the end) to each piece of music..... one at a time (Reprises).

Summary: From the couple of reviews I have wrote so far you probably pegged me as being a diehard Cadet fan. I don't consider myself a big Cadet fan but I DO consider myself a BIG drum corps fan. The Cadets musical choices and the arrangements of those choices since about 2000 have captured what I consider to be great drum corps moments. BIG sound... (Melody)..... cooking drumline.... fast marching (Where called for) and a guard that plays with the best of them.

Crossmen: It is so refreshing to hear an all-jazz show on the field and no one in the junior ranks does it better than the Crossmen. I really like Over the Rainbow to kick things off. I think this corps just has to do some big cleaning. Especially in the tricky tune they play titled "Blue Rondo". This show will sell itself once some more cleaning is done and I am REAALLY looking forward to it. I already love the show and it seems that every crowd that has heard rewards them with the best response of the night.

Summary: Love the arrangements, love the jazzy music..... love the Crossmen. (I have since 1987)


My wife, daughter, and I trucked up to A'town Saturday night after my daughter got off work at the pool where she is a lifeguard. As it's in our own development, two of the bodies she was guarding were mom and dad. Knowing the Mrs... I purchased $15 seats... $10 for my daughter. My wife attended her first drum corps show since around 1979 last summer, and decided to join my daughter and I again this year. We were situated around the 20+ yard-line, so balance issues aren't anything I can really discuss...on to the show... I took no notes or anything,and I was really just there to take it all in, so this is not a real critical analysis...just a general overview....

Surf..... as in last year's "Our Side of the Story"... they've come up with a winner, IMO. "School's Out" kicked off a REAL neat show, with the corps sitting in a 'classroom' on the field, their backs to the crowd. Individuals would turn around an play a little, like kids acting up in school. Eventually the entire corps made it to the sideline for the "School's Out" blast. A LOT of fun in that show. "Surfer Girl" and a host of summer beach tunes made the show a lot of fun to watch and hear. The guard has a long way to go in learning the show... my guess is, that being a South Jersey corps, and with TIA indoor champs so late in the year, well after WGI, a lot of members were not available to learn the show. As they progress, I'm sure, as happened last year, the show will be a REAL winner come August.

Crown...were one of my three fave in 2001, 2002 was far from that. This year's show is WELL back on track. Their opening bell statement is haunting and beautiful. The guard, who spent a lot of time in front of us, is magnificent. One word REALLY make a strog case for me... PIT. Their pit is once again a highlight of the show. Hopefully they'll add some more musical nuance to the show, and work on performance issues, and by August a trip to finals might just happen for them. With that show, I hope so.

Glassmen... as in 2001, a marvelous show. They too need some more dynamic shaping and a bit more emotion, but once they add that, and clean up the performance...they too will have a wonderful show. I loved the huge red slapsticks the snares used and passed off to the guard, who also did some work with them. Very ingenious.

Cadets... uniforms were fine by me. A lot of hubbub about nada, IMO. I sat in front of a Cadet alumnus from 83...he too had no problems with them. The opening moving warmup was handled well... not confusing to me or anyone around me. Malaguena had a marvelous opening minute or so... then it turned into the same tune I've heard 1,000 times...and would rather NOT hear again. Even my wife, who has been to lots of band shows to see first my son and now my daughter, said something like "Why are they playing THAT song?" Rocky Point is a great tune.... and a very nice arrangement. I think that wil work for them. Percussion are VERY good.... a few "oops" spots, but what a great book.

Cavies...... guard unis work just fine. Love the way they use the front lime and then the back forest green to add a variety of color to the show. The visual program is great, and as the crank up the musicality of the brass performance a bit, I'm not sure anyone will catch them. One thing I the opening minute or so, the guard leaps and body work has some individuals who have not yet rounded into shape. Some variety in heights and members landing sooner than the musical phrase called for. I'm sure they'll all be in tip-top shape in a month. One other thing...they seem to have two endings to the show. They seemed to wrap up the show... came to a nice logical end... and all of a sudden did another minute.

Crossmen... had some performance issues, esp in stylistic interpretaion of the jazz idiom, IMO. A well put together show... loved the way the brass ran to the corner and peeled back to the center of the field. I tought the long note at the end was a bit overdone.... not really in tune and IMO too much over the top. Guard does a very nice job, as they did last year. I like the colored stretchy material they used where they stood on the bottom and stretched it around. Very nice.

My viewing favorites:

Just someoff the cuff coments from memory.


Malden, MA (DCI Atlantic)

Music on Parade, MacDonald staduim, Malden MA.

I’ll post some pictures later in the day when I get back from the Beverly show. This is a venue with almost as much history for New England as the Manning Bowl in Lynn has for the national scene. It’s a typical high school stadium, about 22 rows high, a running track seperates the field from the stands - in addition, the Orange line “T” station runs above the backfield, so trains come rumbling merrily by every 8 minutes or so - 12 minutes after 9pm - the gate people told me they guestimated about 400 to 450 were in the stands - they seemed much fuller than last year and that was with Boston appearing in the show - this bodes well.

All opinions are mine and are probably wrong.

National Anthem - Just a quick note - it was played by a young man from MA who was in the cast of “Blast” and who will be a part of the new show when it opens - on trumpet - it started off “very nice” and then became “very hot” - so much so that people on the “T” platform across the street stopped and listened - this was a really, really good trumpet player. {*NOTE - Adam Rapa - see below and thanks - JAA}

Citations - Burlington, MA - 41.8 - 7th - 10H/6B/10P/5G
It really should be 9.5 in the Pit and 4.5 in the Guard as they had two of the smallest kids I’ve ever seen - ever - on the field - the little girl in the guard (whose birthday it was) didn’t do any work - she held a sabre half her height - but the little boy in the pit beat the living crap out of the bass drum - very cool. Their winter percussion program has obviously paid off - the pit is comparatively large for such a small corps - but very good. Their music was “Cenotaph” by Jack Stamp, music from “Indianna Jones and the Last Crusade (I think) - “Chorale and Shaker Dance” by John Zdechlik - mostly it seemed a direct transcription. Their drill was unfinished - “Chorale” was played at a standstill. They have new horn uniforms, black with white upper highlights. The hornline, though small, played with surprisingly good support - the show had few “big moments” but was full of small moments that caught the crowd’s support - coming as they did after the Patriots (this was apparently figured out long before the show) they still were well-received.

Targets - Springfield, MA - 44.45 - 6th - 14H/10B/7P/10G
Music from “the Wiz” - a lot of intonation problems in the horns - they worked way too hard - I think they were just overloaded between the horn book and the drill - it had a very “young” sound. Their drum line did well - a feature section with bass drums on racks on the side was particularly good - the pit didn’t project (why does no one ever talk about amping Div. II/III pits? - maybe because they don’t have money or votes? oh well...) - the timps need tuning. Their guard won “high pom poms” for the night - good moves.

Cadets of NYC - Da Bronx, NY - 53.5 - 5th - 24H?/11B?/7P/8G
This is the most sophisticated CNYC show I’ve ever seen them do - they always have a totally jamming drum section - the horn book is catching up but still rough - guard still has a way to go. “Cenotaph” and “New Era” by Jack Stamp, “Lento” by Phillip Sparks, “Platt Opus” by Rod Morgenstein - I don’t know what it means when music you might see played by Bergen County or SCV makes its way down to Div.II/III shows. Notably the horns had good contrast, nice small ensemble work - this was the first horn line that played its phrases through to the end, no tapering or tiring. The drums were tight as always - guard had good moves but the street clothes they were wearing got in the way of them - they should have some kind of color in their hands or a really bright uniform to bring them out, because they were actually showing a lot of potential.

Raiders - Lodi, NJ - 56.7 - 4th - 18H/13B/7P/6G
Music was “Carmina Burana” by Orff (are there any other “Carmina Buranas” out there?) - pretty much a transcription which means there are rythmic problems to be solved that are hard for symphony orchestras - Raiders have a lot of work ahead to get the rythm smooth and flowing. This was a hornline that was overbalanced by their pit - especially backfield - they were on first and had been running part of the show on the sideline - when they hit that part in the performance, they hit it really hard and drowned out the hornline, who was facing backfield. The guard was notable for lovely flags, ice-blue. The end of the closer was done from standstill, should be good when done - they did connect with the crowd.

East Coast Jazz - Malden, MA - 66.65 - 3rd - 27H/14B/8P/17G
The host corps, ECJ is playing all Gershwin music - the arrangements are nice but odd - certain sections of the “Concerto in F’ are played at radically different speeds - personally I think Gershwin meant for them to go at a certain tempo and it’s risky to change them unless they sound good - the show has long phrases between impacts and the impacts are not that dramatic - especially compared with Spartans. The drill could be stronger - not many visual impacts from the corps proper. But the guard was great, especially the weapon work - which has become something of an ECJ specialty of late. The drums were tight, and well written. The horns, usually an ECJ strength, were well-prepared but tired out by the end of the show - with increased endurance this should be a tasty show by August.

Patriots - Rochester, NY - 67.65 - 2nd - 36H/12B/6P/35G
You read that right - 35 in the guard, as big as most Div.I guards - they could create huge forms on the field when integrated with the horns - good equipment work. Their music selection weren’t listed in the program - their website is singularly unhelpful (IMHO - **sigh** - much like this review, I’m sure) - they did have the first really “mature” horn sound - a large, balanced instrumentation really helped. I didn’t recognize the music - emotionally it was hard to follow, but what they were doing was obviously well-co-ordinated. They were well-prepared, though I did get the impression that the very tail end of their drill was unfinished - they were the first group to deeply energize the crowd - the entire stands were involved.

Spartans - Nashua, NH - 69.95 - 1st - 35H/14B/8P/20G
Nashua very much has a total package - all sections pull their weight - the music, by Robert W. Smith - “The Divine Comedy” is unknown, but unlike the Patriots, this corps is very sure of what their emotional impact points are and the design leads up to them in very sure ways - the crowd was definitely following and under the show design’s control. And this was their first show of the season - very impressive. I can understand if DCI is pressuring them to turn Div. I - they are consistant, they have a great organization and are very secure in what and how they do things - and I hope they don’t because they - along with ECJ and Patriots - are models from what drum corps needs to become if it is really going to survive as an activity that average kids can hope to do. Their horns had a commanding sound - 7 contras helps - it’s almost a Phantom Regiment darkness, extremely effective low brass section - the show has many striking impact points and the horn section is strong enough to deliver them tastefully. The drums were strong, very supportive of the brass, very strong in their own right. The guard unis were great, caused a lot of comment - grey unitards with a maroon waist, silver sparkle highlights on the top - they read very well and were a compliment, rather than a contrast to the corps proper uni - in addition, their silks were lovely and well-concieved.

It was a great evening - the hamburgers were hot, the Diet Coke was ice-cold and everyone in the stands was there to see drum corps - except for a 40 minute intermission, I had a great time and met some cool, knowledgeable folks - thanks, ECJ.

regards - Jim Alberty

Buffalo, NY (DCA / DCI)

Just a few opinions of what I saw in Buffalo.

Empire Statesmen first to take the field. Not their best effort in quite a few years. After seeing them last year I thought they were on the right track upwards again. But this year its truly a choice of programming. 42nd street just doesn't have the effect the corps will need to stay in the top 3. After looking at the recap, they were 3rd in both brass and percussion. Not that the sections are bad, the horns and drums sounded well, but the guard is incredibly tacky in coloring and costuming. Overall the program is way to basic. I felt like I was watching the same thing over and over again, even the guard, incredibly repetitive in nature. Knowing this corps, they will pull it together, I have no doubts. I'm eager to see what they do with it.

Next were the Rochester Crusaders. A very different change for them. They were performing classical music kinda ALA Phantom Regiment. This corps has some elements much stronger than in years past. The drumline was playing incredibly well for this time of year. I wasn't surprised to see them over Empire. What will hold the Crusaders back is the drill writing and guard design. It leaves nothing memorable to the eye and the guard is simply not done well. I was surprised, the guard has a very different looks than the few years past. The staging of the corps at times is just to far back. I don't know if that's part of the concept, but the drill is in need of revamping if they want to play with the big boys this year. Good luck Crusaders make some changes and you may be top 6 bound.

Next came the Syracuse Brigadiers.

I heard lots of preseason rumbling that this corps was in trouble. Boy was that just rumors and lies! This corps is as strong if not stronger than they have been in the past. The weakest link to this corps in the battery. They are still very sloppy and dirty. The hornline amazed me with the talent and mature sound they produced. The guard was the best there tonight. Although incomplete at times they are spinning their butts off. The colors, uniforms, all done tastefully with their pop art theme. This corps is DCA and looks like they are going to get that 5th title in a row. Congrats Brigs on another amazing production.

Well, there it is. Just an old-time fan of DCA drum corps opinion.


Bridgeport, CT (DCA)

Bill Flaker is doing the article for Drum Corps World, and I was working myself , so I didn't get to watch corps as closely as I normally would.

In General: Corps as ill-prepared as I've seen for this show in many a year. Much blame can go to May-June weather, with rain every weekend in Northeast; ergo, very tough to work on drill.

Sky is, well, Sky. Konga warms up the crowd with snappy patter and smallish corps lays it all out there, as always. No closer yet; corps waves and leaves field. Nonetheless, give me Mr. Richardson + the old Gabby jackets and I'm happy. 59.9

Hurcs have a rollicking, full o'fun Vegas themed show. How you can do Saint Saens (Baccahnale) and Elvis (Heartbreak Hotel) in the same programseems a stretch, but corps pulled it off. Cool quotes of a slow, bluesy Stormy Waether, a nod to Mag 7 and plenty of room for GE, what with "stage" prop on right side of field. Holes still need to be filled, battery hugely depleted from last year. Sources told me that some drummers have been in corps only two weeks. Jamie Cutrone back on podium, a big plus, IMHO. SOMFers will be fun in Scranton, no doubt. 64.75

Bush, with NASA theme, has for me a truly unified show concept, infused with corps' usual sonorous brass quality, huge marching demand, this year via Myron Rosander. I need to see this drumline get buffed up. Gorgeous, drippingly smooth ballad from film Contact fit nicely. Nod to Perilous Skies makes for a nifty closer. Brass exposure on opening 16 bars or so absolutely incredible. IMHO, this is Mr. Naffier's best brass program yet for this corps. What's up Jim Dugan's sleeve? It's always interesting to find out. 66.7

Bucs bring pretzel logic to seaworthy theme. Avast me hearties--Reading walks the plank as well as anyone right now. No Debussy but nice turns of Drunken Sailor (did I hear Blow the Man Down in there?), and neo-classical aquatic fare. Brass amazingly sweet for first show. First in ensemble drums. Tied Cabs in overall GE. 70.438

Hawthorne--oh stop. I want to see this corps about 2,983 more times before the last notes die out in Scarnton. No, feets ain't up to snuff with brass and drums--who can claim this? Riveting, challenging, entertaining, gorgeous, mesmerizing stuff in all captions. Curtis Hawkins consistently excellent on thrilling sop cadenzas. Gary Gill's perc feature as good as any I have ever heard/seen, on any field, any frickin' circuit. Period. If you have ears (eyes optional), see this corps. This year. Do it. 71.275

Cabs' grads came out slammin', appealing to many old-time drum corps fans who always show up at Kennedy. Ponzo, Terreri in fine fettle. Chuck Bishop best alum dm in the biz. Combined corps on Flamenco Cha-cha an absolute gas.

My thanks to Mayor John M. Fabrizi for honoring Bridgeport PAL Cadets with a special dedication. Some 47 alums in da house. Stop by and visit corps at

Personal note to DCA, Barnum folks and city: Get together and iron out all problems with this show, the parade, everything. I might get on my soapbox and write an editorial for DCWorld on this, which will piss everyone off. Fine. This is too valuable a show (to all concerned) to let fall off the radar.

Please pick up Drum Corps World to read Bill Flaker's piece. Better yet, subscribe. The Net is nice, but the activity needs this printed Paper of Record.

Now, if somebody could just shut that announcer up.

Ace Holleran

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