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The Sound Machine Archive Presents
2004 Drum Corps International
Show Reviews
As posted to R.A.M.D. and submitted to Sound Machine

Page One 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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Saturday June 26

Seattle, WA (DCI Pacific)


I have to say that I got pretty choked up when I arrived at the stadium and saw Santa Clara's buses. I just miss marching so much that I thought I was going to start sobbing, but I pulled it together. I must also say that most of you know I am a huge Santa Clara fan. However, I feel I was able judge the shows in a fair, levelheaded, and unbiased way. You can read into it as you like, but I think my assessments are accurate.

For the first time, at a show, I sat next to newbie's - Mr. And Mrs. Army I'll call them. They said they were fans of marching bands and wanted to check the show out. It was a lot of fun to explain the activity to them. Lastly, everyone had the execution problems you'd expect for this time of year, at their respective levels, so I'm going to keep those comments to a minimum.



At only four months old, his may be the newest corps in the activity. I counted 40 hours and they had a good-sized drum line and pit, but no color guard. Hopefully they will put a guard in place in future years and start competing. Their entry on to the field wasn't uniform. They short of walked on, in a blob, and not in step. Of course, this may not be a big deal, but I always like the uniform march on. They have only been together for 120 days, so these things will likely fall into place as the organization grows.

The ballad, John Rutter's "Magnificent" was beautiful and the horn line generated a good amount of volume. They were warming up when I arrived and sounded really nice. Of course they had a lot of problems visually, which affected their playing, but again - they are 120 days old. They did a variation on a Cavies drill move in the closer, which was pretty cool. 120 days old and already they are taking from the best. Good for them. All in all the show was very enjoyable and I think this group has a promising future.

OREGON CRUSADERS (Division III, 1st place, 61.05.
Division III certainly isn't what it was when I was in the Jr. Scouts. I was really impressed by this show. Their drill was pretty demanding for a Division III corps and because of that the execution was rough throughout the whole performance (it's June remember). Brass wise, they produced a lot of volume for 36 horns, which was really nice. I really enjoyed their ballad and they played the piece very well. The guard was also effective, although the rifle line had quite a few drops. However, the guard was well integrated into the show and I give the all female guard props for using rifles. The flag work was nice and very effective. I thoroughly enjoyed this show and it will be interesting to see how they fair off against other corps in their division. They may place pretty well come Worlds, if they are going.

SEATTLE CASCADES (Division I, 4th place, 64.75)
I have to say I was kind of surprised that they lost to the Mandarins by such a large margin. It's possible I thought this just based on size, as they greatly outnumbered the Mandarins. On the starting line, a part of the guard was holding what looked like two poles or two rifles; however, they didn't do anything with them when the show started. The rest of the guard was on flags or sabers in the opener. The sabre work was really nice and they handled it well. Later in the show the rifle line was very effective - cool work, well designed. I thought the guard had a great impact in this show. There was a flag solo and the guy dropped the ending toss - disappointing. On a side note, there was only one guy in the guard. The rest were women.

The drill and music were demanding throughout, and the performance suffered because of it. They had lots of brass issues tonight, including miss attacks and releases. The horn line moves pretty fast during some of the demanding parts, so once they clean their horn scores should improve. Seattle has a very mature and complex show with a ton of room for growth. I am not sure if they will make finals or not, but it's possible they may not make semifinals. I do think they will pass the Mandarins and never look back, if they clean.

MANDARINS (Division I, 3rd place, 66.60)
The opening form was very cool. The horns were in a block on the back right side of the field with the guard forming an L around two sides of the block. There was a lone guardsmen standing mid field yielding two swords. As the drums began to play the horns and guard were practically sprinting to the center of the field while the lone guardsmen did some cool martial arts/sword type work. During the sprint, I saw a guard member go down, but she recovered quickly. The initial horn impact was loud and nice as they pushed to a wedge front field. Following the initial impact the horns stood front and center, in a wedge, and hummed for a good 30 seconds, at least. If it was amped, I didn't notice, but I still did not like it. As the horns started playing and the drill started moving, half the guard was carrying red banners. I found this to be ineffective and they did it for a long period, or so it seemed. The rest of the guard is on sabers and doing very nice work and they nailed their last toss. Guard is now all on red flags, very nice. Horns are cooking... some ensemble problems. Beautiful guard solo begins the ballad. Guard is on double flags - purple and silver - very effective and very nice. The ballad was gorgeous and ended on a lush loud note. Bravo! We now have a solo guardsmen center field again, doing martial arts, as we head into the drum solo. Guard is now using two rifles each - VERY COOL. They are very effective in tossing and spinning two rifles in different patterns. This was one of the guard highlights of the night... the crowd just ate it up.

More humming starts the closer, but it is over quickly. I counted about 40 horns, and boy are they good for such a small number. There is a wonderful section with insane runs, during which they are stationary. All in all, the crowd ate up this show. It was very cool and very enjoyable. I absolutely loved this show. It was very entertaining, but from a demand standpoint it just doesn't measure up to what Seattle is doing, nor does it have as much potential for growth, so I'm not sure if they are going to be able to maintain their lead over Seattle for much longer.

BLUE DEVILS (Division I, 2nd place, 79.80)
Musically, this show was wickedly cool. The brass line of course is just wonderful and the music book is so interesting, powerful, and quintessential Blue Devils. However, the brass seemed to get weaker as the show progressed, but I'm sure that won't be an issue for much longer. I would venture to say this could possibly be one of my favorite shows, musically; the Devils have put out in a while. It was a lot of fun, and the ending was very cool musically. I keep saying musically, because I feel the visual product that BD put out this year is going to be a huge liability for them, come finals or sooner. In terms of total package, this edition of the Blue Devils simply falls short. All things equal, which they rarely ever are, I don't see how this show could possibly beat Santa Clara come finals. In terms of overall package, this product does not hold a candle to SCV's package. I don't think the issue is demand. Yes, Santa Clara moves more than BD, not by much, but BD marches at a fast pace quite a lot. So, on an individual basis, I don't think the demand is anything less than SCV. It is also demanding in the sense of exposure, which ties into the design problems. Almost every single set is either block formations or shallow arcs. Therefore, not only is the design not effective, but all the crooked lines (it's June) stick out. Frankly, the drill got boring quickly, because it did not tie into the music much and it was block after block after block, then shallow arch after shallow arch after shallow arch, then follow the leader and more follow the leader. There were two really cool drill moves, but that was it. The visual package is simply not effective. The visual shortcomings extend to the guard also. At this stage, they were the best guard out there from a technical standpoint, but they didn't really impact the show. The female guard members are wearing some type of apron, which just doesn't look good. The equipment work was by far the best of the night, but the guard was not as well integrated into the show as SCV's guard was. Not even close. I just didn't feel BD's guard was an equal part of the show.

The ending was super cool. I just loved it... awesome for a soft ending. However, the horn line forms a blob in the end zone and everyone's just kind of relaxing and hanging out. There's no uniformity, which I didn't care for.

In conclusion, unless the Devils make drastic changes to their visual design, I simply do not see how they could possibly win. We all know that BD is extremely successful when it comes to execution, so I am sure this show will be squeaky clean come August, but if SCV is as clean, I don't think BD will be a threat to them. Then you throw Cadets and Cavies into the mix, and it is the Blue Devils who may find themselves sitting in 4th place come finals. As was the consensous of those sitting around me, this show simply does not hold up to anything BD has done is years.

SANTA CLARA VANGUARD (Division I, 1st place, 80.15)
We all know that the hype surrounding Santa Clara during the preseason was astronomical. I seemed to be the only one that didn't buy into the hype. Well, tonight Santa Clara proved that it isn't really hype, it's reality. This is the show from Santa Clara that I have been waiting years for (at least since 1999). It has everything a championship show has - it is the total package. This show is passionate, beautiful, graceful, powerful, and just plain stunning. This is as complete as a complete package gets. The guard was rough in spots, not as tight as BD's, and didn't have all their work in (seemed to be missing a minute or so in the closer). But, mark my words, if this guard is anything like last years, they will be in contention for best guard come finals. Despite the fact that they weren't as clean as BD, they were much more effective. The guard is so well integrated into the show, it takes your breath away, especially in the ballad. They are a key ingredient to the overall package, where as BD's guard seemed to be only an accessory. They are telling a story, and it is done so well.

I had heard (or assumed) that SCV's drill this year was not going to be as demanding as in previous years. I was wrong. This drill reminds me a lot of the drills they have had since 2000. It is very fast, flowing, and has lots of impact points. They even marched double time at the start of their ballad, which was beautiful. They did a move very similar to the collapsing Y from 1999 twice. I did not care for the duplication in the closer, although it was going the other direction, so it looked a bit different. Still, I don't care for repeated moves because the impact is diminished the second time around. While I think the drill is as hard as previous years, I think the musical book isn't, and that is the big difference. Musically, their show was not any less demanding than BD's, but it still wasn't as insane as the past four years. The horn line is playing extremely well and I would not be surprised if they took high brass tonight. The music is just stunning, from the first note to the last, and the crowd was in heaven.

I was so happy when the scores were announced, because although I do think these two are very close, Santa Clara deserved the win. It was nice to see the judges give it to them. Will they win? I don't know. Could they win? Definitely. This show is nothing short of magnificent... and I think it will be the fan favorite of the year.


I've always liked this show because it's represented a good cross section of drum corps at each level of experience, and this '04 installment [three NW corps and three CA corps] was no exception.

--Contest PROS: slick, very nice, full-color programs... free!

--Contest CONS: why, why, why was it held at Seahawk Stadium? Was this locale supposed to impress someone? First time since this NW show started in '87 or '88 that we had to pay for parking [$8 a car/van] unlike even Husky Stadium the last four years, which charged nothing for parking. Overall higher admission prices too.

--The stadium was right next to the train station: blaAAAAAaaahh... aaAAAAAaaaaa every so often, effectively drowning out the corps. I was not impressed with this locale.

--*Amplified Pit Equipment*: very, Very, VERY anti-climactic. If any of the corps used them [I think BD did] I really and truly couldn't tell the difference between those who did and those who didn't. What highly touted, but decidedly NON-effective hype. Feh.

--And finally: only six corps... but a *20 minute break* after the first two!?? Huh???

[grumble, grumble... clears throat... proceeds with relevant stuff]

In reverse order of placement [I don't have the scores]...

-Spokane Thunder: what a pleasant [actually, an astonishing] surprise for a corps only *four months* old! They did and had EVERYTHING right: the music, the uniform, the poise, the control, the eye-opening number of people on the field... everything, in fact, I'd have expected from a corps with three or four seasons under their belt. Spokane has historically always been something of a 'feeder' area primarily for other NW and CA corps, though in the 1970s the-up- and-coming "Percussionaut Patriots" [originally a drumline, to which a guard & hornline were eventually added] as well as the short-lived "Renaissance" both called Spokane home. The corps-style HS marching bands have always carried this legacy through the football season, too. So the area was very ripe for a corps again. Only after they finished their show did I realize they didn't have a guard: I was THAT taken with how well the brass & drums performed. If ST doesn't get the 'second year blues', and continues in the same vein as this first year, they'll be a force to be reckoned with. How good, too, to see a third corps in the NW now.

-Oregon Crusaders: steadily improving, steadily growing, steadily more confident, steadily more control. My only real concern [and here I'll add Spokane Thunder, too] was their music selections: no idea what any of it was. I don't go to corps shows expecting to [stereotypically] 'whistle the music leaving the show', but I don't want to have to 'intellectualize' it either. I appreciate the efforts put into their repertoires, but, but, but....

-Seattle Cascades: saw their show twice this evening... on the field and the post-show standstill. Execution was the primary hold-back to an otherwise ambitiously designed show. But the season is young, so clean-up/tweaking will tell the final [and, we hope, 'Finals'] tale in a few weeks.

-Mandarins: ALWAYS a creative, tight show from Sacramento, but this years "Samurai" presentation was First Order Magnitude Kick Ass! The taiko drum section [used several times throughout the show] has a thundering, commanding presence; very, very neat. Mandarins unquestionably had one of, if not the highest, audience-appreciated show tonight. A tough act to follow by any corps. Do NOT miss them at DCI! PS: also [other than Garfield, very briefly at the end of their '77 show] the first corps I've ever heard sing. Hmmmm....

-Blue Devils: "The Summer Train Blues Mix"... sharp, saucy, spicy, laid-back and oh-so cooooool. Listen for 'Summertime'. The ending is bizarrely funny: wonder what changes, if any, it'll go through by Denver?

-Vanguard: "The Music of Scheherezade". Yikes! I was utterly dumbfounded to hear completely recognizable, completely familiar, completely audience-followable music start to finish. A drum corps show the *audience* could relate to and follow... in the 21st century... and by a perennial drum corps champion! Who'd a thunk it???

Truly, my faith in contemporary drum corps changed tonight upon, several times, hearing music on the field I could follow the form of without having to ask "What was that?" or, worse, not reacting to at all.




Louisville, KY (DCI Central)

Beautiful night for drum corps and a great stadium for viewing the corps. As this was my first viewing of any of the corps, my comments will be genereal and made with the understanding that this is a June show and with that, there was a lot of dirt musically and visually. On the whole I thought the shows were lacking something at this point and I think that the shows really need a lot of work. But it is still June!

Marion Glory Cadets: Stuck in traffic so I missed them. (Parking at Louisville is made difficult because of poor traffic patterns around the stadium, if you ever go, plan ahead and leave early!)

Kiwanis Kavaliers: Watched them from the tunnel. Some pretty interesting arrangements of WSS. All and all a pretty decent show, just loaded with visual dirt that needs a lot of attention. They had a nice bari/melo duet during the ballad and the same bari player had a nice solo during America. Well done and the music was pretty refreshing.

Southwind: Concensus around me was that the new uniforms looked good. The guard costumes are not good (but then again, it seemed that everyone was trying to outdo each other in the ugly guard costumes). The show was pretty well designed. I think the hornline was a little rough sounding, but the material is there for them to have a really nice program. The crowd seemed to really enjoy them (it was Kentucky afterall). The drill was a little more interesting than the recent past in my opinion and the guard actually added something to the show. It's June and it was dirty, but I think this show is an improvement for SOuthwind.

Capital Regiment: The opening guard unis are awful. That green is just way too hard on the eyes, and really, do they really need that much crushed velvet? The opener was very solid musically and very well done. Unfortunately, the closer really didn't seem to have any connection to the rest of the sow. I just didn't understand how they got to the park and bark ending with a heavy jazz sound from something that was not the least bit jazzy. The show also just about fell apart musically before the first park and bark in the closer. Pretty rough. But I thought the drill showed promise as did the majority of the show. It just seemed to lack a complete focus.

Magis of Orlando: Possibly the roughest performance by any of the corps. Musically, the same themes seemed to be repreated throughout the show, but the music really did nothing for me and the crowd really didn't seem to enthused either. But the music was pretty solid sounding on the whole. The guard were a mess! The design of their show focuses entirely too much on character to the detriment of actual technique and work. Speaking of work, they seemed to have the most missing work of any of the guards on the night. Even thought they were significantly dirtier than CR, I think that the CR show as a whole is just a little more sophisticated and is likely to stay ahead of Magic. THis was not simply a matter of Magic being dirty.

Spirit of J.S.U.: I didn't really get the theme of their program, not really conveyed. The music was very technical and requires a spot clean performance to really sound good. They were close last night, but not quite. I really liked the Sanoran Desert Holiday segment (although the awful guard uniforms were a little difficult to watch with the flags they chose). But the closer, once again, seemed to make no sense. The combination of On THe Town and Chicago along with a bunch of dissonant hits just fell flat last night. They marched pretty well though and while I would be surprised to see this show make FInals, it will get better and will contend. ON a side note, SPirit had the BEST discount souvenirs. Well organized table with assistance. And $5 long sleeve ts!

Crossmen: Unis looked good. And I liked the guard outfits. The music was a little rough, especially "both sides now". But the material is there and when they can finally lock in the groove on Puma, it will be a great show. The Jubal Step segment with the mutes was clever and well done. Of course there was some visual dirt, perhaps the most of those in this scoring group. I think they have the most upside and they could very easily top those in front of them by year's end (save Cadets and Cavaliers). Placement was accurate.

Bluecoats: Nice new unis. Guard outfits were not good, but their work was pretty good, a nice improvement. Great brass sound tonight and the drumline was solid. This show just didn't do anything for me. The technical aspects of the show are in place, but the show itself just isn't as inspired as the recent past. Some great moments, but just not going to challenge anyone in the Top 5 or 6.

Carolina Crown: Fantastic total package again this year. Unfortunately, their use of amps was very distracting. This show absolutely does not need the vocals! Just play the song and let the music and guard convey what you want to convey. I was completely open-minded going into this show, but after seeing and hearing it, I say get rid of the vocals. As for the Beat poetry, it just sounded corny. The guard vocals (unamped) were clearly audible, so why some, but not others? The amps just get in the way of what is an otherwise fantastic show. I actually had CC ahead of BAC, Mad and Coats. It was one of the highlights of the night. It's really going to be something by the time Denver rolls around.

Madison: Well, the visual package is very nicely composed and the guard are performing much better than I've seen in years. They were actually surprisingly clean for JUne. One problem witht the opener is that they tend to do a quick drill move while not playing and run to a form and then hit with big volume. They do move and play in Mallaga, but not throughout. The show seemed to lose steam in the middle, but Mallaga finally brought some energy into the otherwise dead stadium. Really connected well with the crowd. They will stay in the mix for 6th all season.

Boston Crusaders: Well, as soon as the energy was created, BAC sucked it right out of the stadium. They barely garnered a polite applause, despite the fact that they play extremely well, march extremely well and the guard performed extremely well. And the reason why? The most insipid voice over I've ever heard in my life. At some points, members of the crowd around me were actually laughing at the text. To make matters worse, they voice over occurs while the corps is playing, you had to struggle to actually hear the corps at some points. I was floored by their aggressive use of the vocals. It really just seemed like a cheap trick by the designers: essentially it's like they are telling us what everything means while they are doing it, a running commentary. I think that the programming is solid enough to convey what they are trying to do without the suprisingly funny script. I had a hard time with them and for anyone who has issues with amps, Boston and CC will be VERY difficult for you to watch.

Cavaliers: There was no way they were going to beat the Cadets last night. Put an ending on the field already!!!! I know that they want to save some room for growth later in the season, but those of us who spent good money to see the 2004 Cavaliers deserved to see the 2004 Cavaliers, not 3/4 of the 2004 Cavaliers. I would have been ok with the "OK, we're stopping now" ending if they could of at least given us a company front "For Your Eyes Only" how hard could it have been to do something rather than the sawying triangles? It's almost JULY come on. THe brass had some cool moments, but should not really challenge the Cadets. THe same for guard and percussion. However, I do think that Cavies have the edge in GE and shoudl be able to catch the Cadets again if and when they add an ending. Ultimatley, the Cadets will likely finish ahead of the Cavies.

Cadets: Great Brass! Great Drums! and Pretty Good Guard! And yet, right now, there is just no GE. That will come by August, but for now, I just didn't feel it. The majorette was definitely interesting (I guess they are living with the past by offering us an updated version of the classic majorette). It just didn't make any sense to me. I would have prefered some classic big unison guard work there instead. Oh well, it was at this show last year when I complained that I didn't like the Cadets show last year, only to shange my mind at FInals where I had them in 2nd. SO I am not making any real final decisions about the Cadets or any of the corps.

June always make you appreciate August all the more! Good luck to all.

Tony L.

Malden, MA (DCI Atlantic II/III)

OK - My majority shareholder (and primary photographer) and I celebrated our one year anniversary by attending the East Coast Jazz Music in Motion show at the little stop on the Orange Line, Malden Field. I've not had pictures done this way before but they are at - hope you can get to them.

It was a very interesting night, both on and off the field - the crowd was very, very large - I was informed by the ticket lady that the stands were packed - and they looked it - more so than two years ago when BAC did an exhibition at the show - thoughts on this later.

7th Regiment - New London, CN - 11 CG/8 brass/3P/3SD/4BD/2QD
A very auspicious beginning for this new group from New London - they'd missed the preview in Ludlow some weeks back and we were glad to finally see them. Their music was primarily classical, the Chopin Emin. Prelude, parts of Beethoven's 9th and 5th Symphonies - it seemed rather a bit above the horn line, who generally played with a ragged sound - the horn-to-drum balance pretty much made that inevitable - they are not going to balance that drum section easily. However they had two contras who were solidly there twice during the show - very impressive and appreciated by the crowd, who were solidly behind the corps. The drum program seems much better prepared than the horns - the most dramatic musical moments came from them - color guard was somewhere between. Visually they utilized the 30x30 space very well - all told I thought they were quite good for their first time out.

Spirit of Newark - 20 horns -5SD/5BD/!QD/4P - 9 CG
Cadets of NYC should have been next - they were victims of traffic snarls caused by a wreck on the pike - they arrived later and went on in exhibition. The time was filled up by chatting with members of the Light Brigade who had just gotten in from a local parade - mostly chatting about someone named Vinnie (I think...?) who couldn't play that afternoon due to leaving his teeth at home - a lot of corps seemed to be having logistical problems (but Vinnie's seemed unique to Senior corps - oh well...).

Newark was also a victim of traffic problems - apparently their unis were held up on the Jersey turnpike by a 6-car blaze - the kids went on in jeans, sneaks, t-shirts and very attractive baseball caps. The guard moved well, umbrellas being a big hit because of the thundershowers earlier in the day. The show, called "Urban Sounds" had very tasty writing, and seemed to flow well - this corps has a very nice energy when it hits big impacts. Again, the drum section seemed more prepared than the horns - but they did take one really big risk with a ride cymbal part that had the battery kneeling on the sideline - it could have come off better.

Citations - 10 horns - 3BD/1SD/1QD/7 pit(!?!) - 8CG
Citations is on the way to solidly selling a show based on the Disney "Millenium" score made famous by Bergen County back in 2000 - their look is very professional and they were the first corps whose DM fired the crowd up on the salute. They had a lot of partisans in the crowd - and won more as their very confident mellophones played in the opener - the entire corps had great control of 5/4 time, very solid - the solo horn to solo snare drummer on stage left was very effective, nice emotion, as was the horn trio down front. The backbeat boogie hand clap section took a while to get into the crowd (this is New England, after all) and it didn't carry through - you felt a little self-concious when the corps went back to playing. The whole show had a rather abrupt standstill ending - I suspect it's not complete yet. The Guard had a wonderful energy, flow and technique - very expressive for such a small number.

Targets - 6 CG - 11 horns - 5 pit/2DS/4BD/2QD
Music from "Alladdin" - I thought this show was very well performed and thought out - perhaps a little dated in its source material but very well done. This is a hornline not afraid to play loud and fill the horns - at times, whether due to staging or playing the low voices dissappear leading to curious variations in sound, but when they hit, they are very present, indeed. Everyone contributes in this hornline - the drums are solid and very visual - the flags have solid technique, both in marching and equipment work. The show just kind of ends - I suspect it's not finished as well - hopefully it will be ready by their home show next week - (shame on someone for not telling the announcer to mention it - the big shows in Beverly and Lynn got mentions as did the one in Everett - I spent a fruitless night last year trying to find the Target's show - it's at 7pm at Springfield Central HS - so there).

Cadets of NYC - 9 CG - 20 horns - 6SD/5BD/3QD/7 pit
Had they not gone on in (judged?) exhibition I think this would have been the Div.III winners - this corps has come a long way since I first saw them 4-5 years ago - their percussion program, in particular, has really arrived. They look sharp coming onto the field - very well thought out. I didn't recognize the music - the opener seems a little beyond the horns, they had a very raw sound - the second number featured a strikingly talented young man on solo flag - I wish he was better staged. This group had the best blend with the Orange line of the night - a very strong, clear D chord came wafting out of the sound of a train leaving the station on the tracks behind the field - excellent. The low brass sound seemed much stronger than the upper - not a bad thing at all - the guard had great accent work inside the horn block during the third number. Their real strength is their percussion section - their sound is very clear, if a little mono-dynamic (this in the first show of the season, of course) - I suspect this corps will do very well in Denver and I hope they can make it. The most polished group in Div. III.

Jersey Surf 12 pit/6sd/5bd/3QD - 20 CG
"Shuffle up and deal" - like watching the warm-up act for "Celebrity Poker Showdown" on Bravo - you could see a real jump in intensity with the Div.II corps. Resplendant in electric blue jackets, yellow pants and shirts only a mother could love, Surf brought Vegas to Beantown. They won high collar points. A lot of the folks sitting with me were commenting on the recognizability of the music - the opening hit of "Shangri La" was wonderfully reminiscent of Midwestern corps of the 70's - or the New York Sunrisers - maybe that worked to their disadvantadge with the judges - hard to say - I enjoyed the show. This thought was confirmed by "This is just the Start of Something Big" - when was the last time you heard the music of Steve Allen on a drum corps field? - too long? - not long enough? - pleading the Fifth? The most curious part of this show came next - a large yellow and red curtain was held from 30 to 30 - we're talking a freakin' BIG curtain - which was then withdrawn to show....the horn line, playing the "Also sprach Zarathustra" fanfare from 2001 - this puzzled a lot of folks in the crowd - I suspect an incomplete show here... ....but God alone knows what Bob Jacobs and his rat pack have to go in here - this might be the big Seigfried and Roy moment of the show - if Liberace shows up, I'm heading for the popcorn stand....

This show had very high crowd appeal and was very well prepared - the horn sound is rather bracky at times but always strong - the drums had the kind of writing and technique that will stand very well in Denver - the drill seemed vey tight, mostly 30x30 - this corps likes to park and bark, and it gets to the crowd. Kudos to the guard, who were well-prepared and really ultra-attractive in their red sequined dresses that were particularly moving during "Jailhouse Rock" Surf's drum major wins the award for high zoot suit and best imitation of the Chairman of the Board - and we're not talking Dean Acheson here, folks....

Spartans - 40 horns - 18 CG - 8 pit/7SD/3QD/5BD/4Cym
Nashua's own officially designated youth sports activity group (grrr...) took the field with a production of Key Poulan's "Medusa" - a dark symphonic wind piece custom-made for their trademark dark horn sound and serious show design. One is immediately struck by the visual design - very sophisticated and dense, with great field coverage and effortless, smooth transitions. They got the first and largest response from the house for a drill move, a rotating box early in the show, beautifully co-ordinated with the flow of the music - definitley the strongest visual program of the night. Their guard was elegant and very well rehearsed - they win the award for best use of snakes as guard equipment - if the ASPCA doesn't catch on, they're golden (even if the reptiles are rubber...must have made for some interesting rehearsal moments...) The thinking behind the emotional line of this show is evident in the middle production where every note and move leads to a dramatic rilfe toss on the 50 yeard line - it's partly the toss but it's mostly how you get there and this show does a great job of making the journey interesting and worthwhile.

NOTE TO PARENTS IN THE CROWD - if you bring a child, you are responsible - it's not a like a dog park where you let them off the leash and then chat with friends - the last third of Spartan's show was spoilt for us in the center stands by kids running wild under the stands.

This show is a definite contender for the Div. II title.

East Coast Jazz - 20 CG - 11 pit - 7SD/4BD/3QD/ - 36 horns
Did I mention that Chick Corea marched in corps in Boston? One of his corpsmates was sitting in the next row over - so how appropriate that ECJ is throwing down with an all-Chick show. A lot of comparisons can be superficially drawn with the legendary Blue Devil show of 1994 - I think they're superficial, at best. The experience of the corps is evident in the first statement - foot control backfield in slow tempo leading to a turnaround and hit - very forceful and solid. This is the most in-your-face emotional show I've seen ECJ do in a while - most of them have been more technical jazz - this is hot, risky rhythmic Spanish jazz. Armando's rhumba (CC's real name) is a case in point - the rythms are subtle but the volume's intense - they're surprisingly close at this stage of the game - the heeavy syncopation makes it seem faster than it is. Their drum break in Spanish Fantasy was the first to really energize the crowd - the judges had them down from Spartans by less than half a point - Surf was even closer. My Spanish Heart has great potential - the sabre work (in particular a series of layered tosses) is nicely co-ordinated - the drum set in the pit is a welcome color change from the battery.... ...and of course, what would be an ECJ show without a spectacular soprano solo? They're got several and the crowd loved it.

They are taking some risks - the reprise of Spanish Fantasy that closes the show was incredibly exposed and nearly fell apart. Nonethleless, the concluding horn block and guard wedge is nothing short of spectacular - Ed Devlin has really caught the music on the field.

FINAL THOUGHTS - the thing that stayed with me most was the ticket lady's statement that the house was packed - it was - I don't know what they did, but Fred Ford's folks got bums on seats and the interest was there - I know having the top 3 Div. II corps on the East Coast helped, but all of the Div.III corps were presentable and entertaining, with one new corps making its debut. Maybe things are hanging in the balance and it's up to the corps of this size to get folks in the door so everyone can benefit.

Thanks - it was a great show - hope we can make it next year....

regards - Jim Alberty

Lewisburg, PA (DCA)

After last year's attempt at a show marred by violent weather, finally, DCA competition returned to Christy Mathewson Stadium on the campus of Bucknell University on June 26th. Lewisburg, or Bucknell as the show was called, ran from 1949 until the late 80's, and was always a well attended event. After an absence of 16+ years, the same held true, and the crowd was not disappointed with the results.

This year, the weather held out, and it was a truly beautiful night for a show. The show started off with the combined Lewisburg H.S. and Mifflinburg H.S. bands. The first selection, "America the Beautiful", led by Mifflinburg Band Director Matt Wagner. This writer has to admit being biased, as Mr. Wagner was a teacher of mine in High School, and he hasn't lost his touch. The combined band then played the Star Spangled Banner, followed by an Armed forces medley, in which veterans of each branch were invited to stand as their hymn played. Minus a small glitch by the announcer, who confused the Marines and the Coast Guard, the arrangement came across really strong and was well received by the crowd.

Up next was Mighty St. Joes Alumni, numbering by my count 47 brass, 20 percussion, and 14 color guard. Powering off the line to American Salute, the corps did an old time entry from the 40 or so yard line. A surprise was the more modern drill St. Joes used here, with a lot of follow the leader curvilinear forms, but the membership handled it pretty well, and it didn't affect the music. The corps then set up in a concert formation for "Legend of the One Eyed Sailor", with the percussion off to the side behind a long rack with mounted toms and cymbals. Here the brass, unencumbered by drill let loose, and showed the crowd they can play with the best of them. The percussion was then spotlighted, and it had something for everyone: drum-to-drum, back sticking, drum to tom and cymbal, and good rudimental drumming.

The corps then launched into their signature songs, starting with "Big Spender" featuring a strong contra line, then the corps hit the crowd right in the face with 'Bully", which featured a unique split snare roll during the bull call. As the corps then began to troop the stands and one thought they were done, the actually surrounded the Drum majors podium and let legend Kenny "Ace" Peterson start off an excellent arrangement of "Georgia", which clearly was the corps' favorite song to play. For 74 years old, Kenny Peterson is still among the best soprano players in the game today. Overall, a very strong showing from St. Joes Alumni.

Up first in competition, all the way from North Carolina came Carolina Gold, debuting their 2004 show "Hanging With Dave", the music of the Dave Matthews band. The corps started off with unison 16th note rhythms working their way into "Warehouse". The opening statement worked its way to a company front, and was strongly presented by the corps. From there, performance issues plagued the corps off and on, but it is early in the season. Featured nicely was the saber line, and also a very aggressive battery percussion section. The brass seemed tired, as the corps did a parade today, and the balance issues may have affected their score. The ballad of "Dreaming Tree" began with the pit playing a nice melodic groove if you can call it that, with battery members jumping in to help and add to the "drum set" feel. The new black and gray uniforms, with a gold panel played well against the guard's purple/lavender silks, which had green dots. The work was not done, but what was presented showed signs of things to come, and worked well at the impact.

"Kit Kat Jam" began with a strong percussion feature, and had some excellent rifle work. Clearly, at this stage of the season, the percussion is their strength. "Drive By Blues was not done visually, with the drill ending right as the percussion feature began. While moving, the tenors seemed to be a musical and visual focal point, and when cleaned up could be a show stealer. Ending in 3rd place with a 65.175, the corps is off to a good start, but clearly has some work to do. When finished, this show could be one of many fighting for a finals spot in Open Class.

All the way from Orlando FL came Heatwave. DM Vic Kulinski was quick to thank the crowd for having them back and to take credit for bringing the weather with them. This year's show takes place in Carnival in Rio, and while not done, shows a lot of early season promise. In their old uniforms, as the new ones have not arrived yet, the 23 brass, 15 percussion and 12 guard showed that this will be a fun show come Scranton. Starting with a mix of Brazilian tunes, including Brazil, Rio and Carnival, the corps produced a sound bigger than their size at the outset. Musically, the opener was strong, and with time the visual should catch up nicely. "The Girl From Ipanema" was a nice change of pace, featuring the sopranos early both musically and visually. Of musical note was the bass drums adding melodic and rhythmic support while the snares and tenors entered the pit to enhance the mood. The brass is covering a lot of field for it's size, and the guard helps out visually with aqua, blue, green and gold silks. While not present tonight, DM Vic Kulinski informed me that in time, we would actually see the "Girl" herself.

"Esta Noche featured the percussion. Especially the snares that moved up front to play on mounted toms. Some nice brass percussion trade offs, but the brass seemed to tire at the big re-entry. The song ends with the full corps charging the front sideline in a company front. Closing the show was Pais Tropical. The crowd began to clap along and get into the song. The guard work was not done, as at the big hit the guard stood in place, and did no work as the corps again charged forward in a block form to powerfully end the show. In speaking to Kulinski, I am told a lot more is to come to enhance the visual product...I won't give away any surprises, but I wouldn't be surprised come finals if a kitchen sink is in there. 4Th place, 62.388, and a strong showing for the long drive and a full day, which also included a parade.

As the huge backdrops started rolling in, the Lewisburg crowd was quick to notice that the Empire Statesmen were bringing a big show with them. Featuring 52 brass, 32 percussion, 32 guard and 2 DM, this year's show is "City of Angels", Statesmen Style. Starting with a slow feel, the corps faces backfield while dueling sopranos are staged up front, each soloist surrounded by guard members dancing. As the corps builds to hit the hit and the tempo picks up, one can feel the tension as the corps turns and hits you between the eyes before taking off into the 'Overture of City of Angels." The corps is clad in black and white tuxedos, and the guard is in gray and black, using white and gray flags. The visual represents the black and white era of movies and is well done. The backdrop to the lower right is an Indiana Jones type of character as this is the "adventure" song, and the Dm podium lets us know it's the action sequence. Featured is the percussion section whose features are both meaty and musical. Color guard integration is evident throughout the song, and the corps performs relatively well at the up-tempo for this early in the season. The Ballad of "every breath I Take" is the Romance section, and the backdrop in back features Casablanca. Here the guard adds color for the first time, with teal being the color used. The staging at the hit section is well done, and every voice is heard clearly. The corps has power, yet they can show it and not be overbearing. Strong solo baritone work in the beginning and Joey Pero, 70 pounds lighter is great at the end up the octave of course. The song also features a solo dancer, who, like many guard members came over from Patriots when they folded for the year.

"Murder Mystery" is set to the song "Funny" with the backdrop showing a face covered with red. This song has the potential to be the talked about moment of the show. With a slow mysterious build led by the pit, the brass comes in and builds to a swing section then into a full out in your face hit. This is followed by a percussion feature that is more musical than ramming in nature, and is done on the fly. The corps again lets loose building to a big stand still hit with even more movement afterwards. The guard here adds red to their uniforms to add to the mystery and uses some very high tosses for impact, as well as a male rifle catching both his female counterpoint and the rifle at the same time.

The "Big Hollywood Ending" is the music of "I'm Nothing Without You". It has no backdrop, at least as of now, and starts with a nice build to a swing feel hit. The drill is a series of big exposed rotating blocks and builds to a big standstill hit...then after Pero goes for the sky, the tempo kicks up a notch or 4, the visual is a lot of counter motion between percussion and brass, ending in a powering standstill hit, with the guard going Technicolor with several shades of neon colors in the silks. The crowd rose to it's feet in support of this strong performance, and it's clear Empire is in their best shape in many years. Speaking to Dm David Bruni and perc staffer Joey Gaudino at rehearsal, the staff knows the corps is strong, but admit they are far from done, and more is to come to enhance the storyline. A convincing 1st place, winning all captions, score of 76.263

Last in competition was the Reading Buccaneers. This corps also came to the plate fully loaded for their show featuring the music of Dimitri Shostakovich. Featuring 44 brass, 35 percussion and 28 guard, the corps powered off with a strong unison statement of "Festive Overture", showing their strong low brass. Also eye catching was the color guard equipment holders/props, which start up in the upper left hand corner and go diagonally across the field to the lower right corner. As the percussion enters, it's apparent the corps needs more upper brass yet to balance the sound, and some holes were evident. The corps moves well, especially the percussion who covered the most ground of any percussion section all night. Also visible was an active guard, here featuring rifles and sabers quite well. Finishing strong, the corps gave all sections a chance to shine in their opener. The ballad, "Novorossiysk Chimes", more commonly known as "Fire of Eternal Glory" started with the low brass with well-staged guard dance and adds voices to the hit, which the guard enhances with purple flags on a curved pole for a nice effect. Flowing from the hit, the song died out to a very expressive pit ending the song.

Shostakovich's 10th featured driving percussion at a fast tempo. The percussion section balances "meat" and "Musicality" well, and visually the guard uses the props/holders to form a file down the 50 for a toss evocative of the old "Rockford Files" that had the crowd oohing and ahhing. The 5th symphony begins backfield and the corps turns and hits the crowd hard. Some unique staging is seen here percussion to brass, which when clean, should help the corps tremendously upstairs as the listening positions the sections are placed in can be challenging to say the least. The percussion is again featured, with the crowd enjoying the stick toss visual by the snares. The guard here uses orange and gold to support the corps proper and adds to the feel of the moment leading to the hard charging fast paced ending. Do not let the score fool you. This corps is good, and with bodies added in and cleaning done, the Bucs are again a force to contend with come Labor Day.

A surprise exhibition was the Lehigh Valley knights, PA's Division 3 entry into the junior world. Performing their Show "Patterns of Knight", the corps had a surprise visual bonus behind them: fireworks. Apparently due to rain the night before, the town of Lewisburg moved their fireworks back a night, and they came during LVK's show, but were no distraction. Small in size, 17 brass, 19 percussion and 12 guard kept the audience fully entranced. New uniforms of a white tunic with black accents and a red triangle, the corps showed even at their size, they have power and finesse. The pit starts the show to Phillip Sparke's "Dance Movements". The field percussion joins in with some tasty playing, followed by the brass, who sound bigger than their size. The corps moved well here and covered a lot of field for their size. The guard, well staged in orange and black uniforms, made excellent use of neon green flags to highlight the visual.

The ballad, "Lento from Dance Movements" featured muted sopranos and strong pit playing, with battery members added in. The guard danced well here, especially during the mello solo and built to a nice hit which had the guard using a wood pole with purple flags. From here, the corps went into "Bacchanale" from Samson and Delilah. The percussion was featured nicely here, especially the basses who were accented by strong rifle work. The music aspect led to a strong finish, though at this time the corps is not done with the drill. The corps is clearly off to it's best start ever, and will contend when they hit Denver in August.

Last to perform were the Caballeros Alumni, from Hawthorne NJ. In the past, Bucknell was a Cabs crowd, and tonight was no different. From the Bull Call to announce the corps, through the corps entrance to their legendary street beat, until the last note, this was the crowd favorite. Coming off the (5) yard line to "Espana Cani", featuring the ever-popular Rumps, the corps had the crowd in their hands. Old style drill led the corps through the tune, ending in a company front on the sideline. The percussion then powered through their first feature, leading into the next selection from the 70's, "When Ted Meets Johnny" during which the corps worked their way into concert formation. From here, the corps launched into "Echano" an old Cabs classic. Featuring many fine soprano solos, one didn't realize that perennial soloist Frank Ponzo was not in attendance... the horn line is that stacked with talent.

A short percussion solo led into "Flamenco Cha Cha" which saw the corps work their way backfield, turning and building into a huge company front. Another percussion solo, featuring back sticking and drum-to-drum work of exceptional quality led to the Finale, known to any Cabs fan. When done, the crowd roared their appreciation. Clearly, even in alumni form, the Cabs still own Bucknell.

Many thanks to the show hosts and DCA VP Dan Rippon for their well run show and hospitality. Here is hoping this show is back in place firmly on the DCA schedule for many years to come.

Jeff Ream

Friday June 25

Kennesaw, GA (DCI Atlantic)

Well.. It rained.. It rained HARD and it was in fact indoors. I have been to many a drumcorps show and never have I been to one that actually got rained out. I didn't enjoy it as much as I would have if it had been outdoors, but it was good to hear some drumcorps after a long few months off from it. Here is what I thought.

Corpsvets - By far the loudest thing of the night. Hype stuff going on and very dirty, but to be expected. I was impressed as usual with their sop solos and overall crowd appeal. I was not that impressed with the fact that they acted as if they were playing outside and played as loud as humanly possible to the point where you couldn't hear anything other than what I lovinging call "pink noise". It was a good show though and my first indoor drumcorps experience was on.

Court of Honor - I would actually like to see this show outside. If they move and play as well as they stand and play then this is going to be a very good div III corps. They have a great sound and have an enjoyable book. I think the drumline parts were very tasty and I enjoyed it a lot.

Carolina Crown - Ok.. So I LOVED the beginning of the show. It was UNGODLY loud and really well played. The drumline was HOTTTT and cookin for sure. At this point I really thought this was going to be a top 8-9 corps until.... They start singing.. Ok.. So I knew amplification was in this year,but I didn't realize you could sing. This isn't UMASS or any other college marching band that I have heard singing.. This is drumcorps. You couldn't really tell what they were trying to do, but their staff really quickly starting looking around trying to get the vibe from the auidience. I hope one of them saw me puking.. I didn't like it and will not like it. I do like the closer though.

Magic - Wow.. how far could one corps actually go from being inactive for 2 years and now THIS... Amazing stuff guys. Great music and playing it very well. I can't really complain about this show. The battle is GREAT and the finale is really good too.

Spirit - Interesting... That is the main thing I can say. Cavies on a bad night is the way I described it to my wife when I got home (she didn't go due to rain). It is written by Saceado (sp?) and sounds like a cavies show from the past 3 years. Has the same basic feel to the show. It was played well and I did overall enjoy the show, but something about it just caught me off guard. I don't know what it was. I think it will be good in a few weeks.

Crossmen - Great music.. Great drumline ... Great everything. I loved it. But not as much as.

Boston - Ok.. This music was incredible.. However for some reason taking something "original" lately has actually become quite unoriginal.. I don't know why, but it just really seemed like I was watching BD and Cavies from last year, but without it being quite as good.. I LOVED the drumbook and I really LOVED the music.. I want and have tosee this outside. I think it has the potential to be top 5 material.

Excited about seeing a show outside in a couple of weeks!!

Michael Bell

Bloomington-Normal, IL (DCI Central)

I took my sister and a couple of friends (all of whom have never seen a drum corps before) to DCI Central in Bloomington last night. Everyone thorougly enjoyed themselves. Following is my review of the show, with some specific comments on each pit, as that is my area of expertise.

Pioneer (54.05, 8th): Business as usual from the Pioneer. Not terribly exciting, and a little hokey in places. There is potential here, and a lot of how this season goes will depend more on the instructional staff than on the members.

Pioneer Pit: We got to the show about an hour early, so we wandered around the lot for a while watching the first couple corps warm up. Pioneer's pit, during warmup, put their keyboards right up against the truck (facing the truck, effectively creating a big wall right in front of the ensemble). As a pit instructor, I can't think of a worse situation for a warmup. The instructor couldn't get out in front of the ensemble, and the players can't hear each other the way they need to. Further, what first attracted my attention was the scale excercises that were being played. They were nice excercises, but they were playing them WAY too fast. Half of the ensemble was breaking in the middle of the excercise. It's been beaten into my head by both percussion and piano teachers, that you NEVER play anything faster than you are capable of playing it. They should be playing these excercises at half that tempo, and working their way up through season. Slow practice makes for fast improvement; perhaps by Denver they would be able to play those tempos, and play them well. Performance-wise, the same issues shine through. Lots of ensemble issues in the pit, and technique problems caused by poor rehearsal strategy... that's all I have to say about that.

Southwind (57.0, 7th): WOW! This was the surprise of the evening. Southwind had a good night, I think, and I hope they're having a good year. They were pleasantly loud and clean, catching me off gaurd for that early in the program. Visually, there is work to be done, but if they can bring the visual program up to the level of the musical program, they will be a force to be reckonned with in August.

Southwind Pit: Again, very impressed. Not a lot of incredibly difficult stuff, but what they played, they played well. At one point, they play two players on each keyboard, playing little licks with one player playing the right hand and the other playing the left. I've seen this done on drums before, but never on keyboards, and it was cool. I question the mallet choice though. Most of the show was played with mallets that were too soft for my taste. I wonder if they spend most of their time practicing indoors, as the mallets they were using would give a nice, full sound indoors, but outside, they lose their clarity to the open space. I *think* they were playing with the Vic Firth marching keyboard mallets (could be wrong on that). If that's the case, I would suggest moving a lot of stuff from the gray ones to the black ones, and getting some more attack sound during the more articulate passages.

Kiwanis Kavaliers (52.3, 9th): This was a nice show, with some good moments. I have to echo the sentiments of most of the audience near me though: If your color gaurd is going to wear spaghetti straps in performance, they need to be rehearsing in tube tops. There were a lot of unsightly tan lines that got a surprising amount of commentary as they were coming on the field. There wasn't much memorable in this show. The percussion played on trash cans at the end of the show, and it was rather anticlimactic. With all that was going on, I expected to have a very loud sound from the trash cans... something like Blue Man Group and their paint drums. Maybe I'm spoiled, but I was dissappointed by that impact. Maybe backing it up with some tom work in the pit would do the trick.

Kiwi Pit: Not very memorable, to be honest. I didn't write anything in my notes about them. I do remember a slightly "larger" player who played mostly xylophone in the back row; he has some serious chops! They were utilized well, too. Good writing, at least for him. It would be nice to see the rest of the ensemble brought up to his level, and playing the kind of book he was playing.

Capital Regiment (63.8, 6th): This was a nice show. The hornline was loud, and did some nice stuff. The drum major podium was an item of concern though; I thought it was going to collapse! A very animated drum major combined with a rickety podium is a dangerous combination. I didn't care for their arrangement of the doxology, but that's just my taste. Overall, I think this corps performed well.

Capital Regiment Pit: In a word: dirty. It's early in the season, I understand, but there are fundamental concepts that the players should be able to apply in any situation that would help clean things up. There were just too many ensemble issues here. The players were enthusiastic, and obviously enjoyed what they were doing, and that was appreciated.

Colts (65.2, 5th): The colts have a very nice show this year, and I dare say are contenders for a finals spot this year, if they can get the percussion program worked out. The brass are fantastic: playing Copeland, they remind me of early 90's Cadets, which is a good sound to have. The visual program is still pretty dirty, but it's only June, and I know the Colts (I was in the Colts pit in 1998). They'll get that cleaned up. The gaurd contributed to the program nicely, especially during the ballet sequence. What a great idea from the gaurd staff: "Since we're playing a ballet, why not put a couple of ballet dancers on the field?" I loved it. My biggest concern with the Colts is the percussion. There were quite a few clarity issues, which I hope they'll get worked out by Denver. I have a personal interest in seeing this corps back in finals!

Colts Pit: First off, I like the look of they keyboards they're playing on. The wooden parts on the frames look nice. Playing wise, this pit was good individually, but there were a number of ensemble problems. Like the rest of the percussion section, if they can clean it up by August, they'll do great.

Madison Scouts (74.35, 3rd): YES! I've been waiting all night to get my face ripped off, and Madison delivered. The show is great, and has elements of classic Madison in it. They're playing Malaga: what more can you ask for? Screaming horn solos, the vintage rotating company front, etc.... And at the end, when they're all up front and playing as loud as they possibly can, they take it up a notch and play even louder, and then again, and again. I don't know how they do it! This was one show that I can't critique from a technical standpoint. I was just too excited. I couldn't stay seated, and couldn't contain my squeals of joy at being purely entertained. Madison knows how to work a crowd like no one else does.

Madison Pit: The best thing I can say about Madison's pit is that they are a great match for what's going on in the field. The writing is great, and is played well. Once again, I was just too excited to really take any technical notes. I can't imagine having to judge this drum corps. I'd be hard pressed to pay attention to the details, rather than just sit back and enjoy the show.

Bluecoats (74.25, 4th): What can I say? The Bluecoats are an excellent drum corps. The show was executed well, programmed nicely, and the gaurd is great. Unfortunately, the Bluecoats are just never able to excite me. The show is nice. I like the whole concept of "Mood Swings." The color gaurd was the high point of this drum corps for me. They have a large gaurd and they make good use of it.

Bluecoats Pit: It takes a lot of work to play jazz "comp" parts as an ensemble. This music is usually written so that a single piano and/or vibe player can improvise. It takes a talented arranger to turn this piano/vibe work into a good pit book, and the Bluecoats have done it. I have the same mallet choice issues here that I have with Southwind.

The Cadets (79.9, 2nd): I had my doubts about the Jethro Tull show, but now I will doubt no more. The Cadets played a great show, and the audience reflected it. My favorite part had to be the rock-out section of "Bouree." I wonder if Bach would have approved.... Cadets drumline is on fire, and are contenders for another drum trophy in Denver this year. Visually, the Cadets are doing very well. This show doesn't seem as demanding as some past shows, so it's surprising that it's as dirty as it is. As with the Colts... It's june, and we all know they'll get it worked out. In my gut, I don't feel that this show is the champion for the year, but I've been wrong before...

Cadets Pit: I can't talk about the Cadets pit without talking about amplification, I know. For the record, I am still unopinioned on the whole subject. I understand both sides, and while I tend to lean a certain direction, the compelling arguments in the other direction keep me pretty much in the middle of the road. The only fair thing I can do is consider it on a case-by-case basis. In this case, I don't think the amplification was necessary. It certainly didn't hurt anything, but I'm not convinced that it helped either. To go out and beat the keyboards to pieces is great... I love watching the Cadets pit play. I'm not sure that amplifying it really helped much. Technically, the Cadets' pit is great. Chops, chops, chops! I can't wait to see what this turns into by August.

Cavaliers (80.45, 1st): WOW! This was *THE* show of the night. I have to admit, I'm a little surprised by this program. It's got a sound to it that seems more characteristic of the Blue Devils, but the Cavaliers do it so well! I was dissappointed in the scoring, I thought the Cavaliers were a sold few points ahead of the Cadets. One of my favorite moments was when a line of high brass forms in the back half of side B, and as the line stands and plays, the two horn players on the far end drop out, and move along either side of the line, playing "spy vs. spy" as if their horns were guns, and then rejoining the line at the other end. It's these little touches that make this show work. There were a couple of ensemble music moments that were scary. There is one point where there brass drill has them in a very difficult listening position, with some tough side-to-side ensemble work. There were a few tense moments during that section, but they pulled it together and finished in style. The end of this show was actually a bit dissappointing. It wasn't as exciting as I expected. I wasn't sure that it was really over. I bet the ending gets rewritten before too long. Color Gaurd: Great performance, as always, and *MUCH* better uniforms than last year - very tasteful.

Cavaliers pit: The amplification played a more significant role in this case. There were some very sensitive and soft passages that the Cavaliers were able to play because of the amplification. Was it worth it? The jury is still out on that, but they certainly utilized it better than the Cadets. Technically, the pit was great. Lots of intricate 4-mallet work that show of the skills of the individual players. And of course, what pit review would be complete without a comment on that concert bass drum sound. There is some secret to the way the Cavaliers tune the concert bass drums that makes them just perfect!

This DCI Central show was done in conjuction with the BOA symposium taking place at ISU over the week. Before retreat, the kids who had attended the symposium in the marching band track came out, and performed about a minute and a half of the Cavaliers' opener with them. Mind you, this was not a standstill, but someone actually wrote drill for the high school kids that worked with the Cavaliers' drill. It was a nice touch, and a very classy thing for the Cavaliers to do.

Retreat was business as usual, and the Cavaliers played a very nice victory concert.

What a great show! I find myself looking at the schedule and trying to find another show that fits my schedule. With some luck, I'll get to one more show this year....

Jacob Thurman

Wichita Falls, TX (DCI Central)

Overall, a great night for drum corps. Cool temps and the rain held off, although it tried to rain during retreat. I bought a ticket at the door was able to get on the 48 yard line, row 30! As a music teacher, I'll try to give the ups and downs of each corps; not to criticize, but point out the areas they need to improve. First up, nachos (un-amped). That's right, even the nachos get a review and recap in this write up! I encourage everyone to review the nachos at shows. I'll do the same at Dallas and Denver.


The chips were fresh and had a good crunch with the right amount of salt. There was a divided compartment for the cheese that kept the chips from getting soggy. Cheese was good and thick and added to the GE score, however the overall size of the serving was a little small and hurt their score. The jalapenos could have been a little spicier but were good in numbers. Penalty points were assessed to me for not pacing myself and leaving leftover cheese!

GE (Size, staging, and overall enjoyment) - 31.8

Chips (Crunch, salt, and freshness) - 17.6

Cheese (Texture, thickness, and flavor) - 18.1

Jalapenos (Spice, crunch, and flavor) - 15.3

Total score - 82.8

(on to the corps)


Good sound from this corps. I was impressed by their drumline; lots of energy from them and the brass. Their biggest problem was feet. I never understood how someone can play in tempo but not be in step. They even had trouble entering and exiting the field in step. I hope they can fix this because they have a good show.

Memphis Sound

The drill is what stood out to me in this show. They have a fantastic program written for them. If they can learn to execute it a little better, they could do well. The brass needs to finish the phrases, and push to the last note. Soprano solo had some trouble on his high note, but played well with the rest of the brass.


Glad the see the gray pants again! Last year's Troopers were the best in a long time in my opinion and this year could be even better. It is the most difficult show I've ever seen the play. Have the Troopers ever played jazz? It's the first time I can remember them playing jazz rhythms, but it fits the show. Had some good brass moments and should be able to clean some hard licks. Had some holes, but I loved the flags with the Trooper's logo. Penalty points were assessed to the people behind me for talking during the show.

Blue Knights

(Please note: this is where I get biased, but I'll do my best to be fair!) Love the music and the new horns sound great! This is the best program since 2000. Opened with Trittico and included I Go On. I tried to keep my singing under an mf, but I loved hearing the corps song. Musically, they had some very good brass sounds and the drum solo kicked some serious booty. Visually, there was quite a bit of marching errors, but it's the kind that's easy to fix, such as one or two people out of a straight line. The program listed 10 people on staff I marched with in '99 who hopefully can help get them in front of the home crowd on Saturday night in Denver!


Medea opening was solid. They just need to take the energy they start with keep it going throughout the show. Their strength was in the marching. Ensemble and individual marching were both very good. As a trumpet player with a lot of experience on piccolo trumpet, I would say the soloist is using to much air and needs to try using faster air instead overpowering the smaller instrument with a lot of wind. Don't mean to be critical, just one player trying to help another.

BK and Gmen will be fun to watch all season. Without seeing the recaps, I thought BK took music and Gmen took visual. In the end, BK was up by .3, wow!


This corps is money! Strong performance all around. The show is loaded with GE and could make a run for top 3. Excellent drumline with tons of power. Very few errors in this show, I thought they would have broken 80. Unlike every other corps, they had no holes, which is to be expected with an upper echelon corps.

My take on the amps -

For the corps that used them I couldn't tell they were there, even when I was trying to listen for it. I don't think they're having the impact people expected or feared.


Started to rain but it held off. The announcer had a big oops. After recognizing but not announcing the scores for Americanos, Memphis Sound, and Troopers, the crowd was yelling, "SCORES!!!" He corrected his mistake, but what else can you expect from a clarinet player! During the encore, Phantom treated us to Elsa's Procession to the Cathedral. Overall a great night. Thanks and good luck to all the corps.


First of all let me say that this is my first time reviewing a show, but since I did not see one for this show I though "what the heck I'll give it a try". Plus, I have three years of marching experience so I feel somewhat qualified, if only a little.

Opening comments:
The stadium was a little thinly populated, however the announcer told us that we were competing against a concert and a festival on the same night. So in a smaller town like Wichita Falls, I thought it was a pretty good turn out, considering. The weather was threatening the whole time, but fortunately it never opened up on us, and in light of the recent rain-outs, I feel very lucky.


This is the little corp that could. They have been around for a while, and though never big or very strong, they stick around. That being said, the show was somewhat of a mess. The percussion was the strongest section with more members than the horn line and guard combined. They carried the show. The brass had some immature sounds and rough ensemble tears. The music was pretty neat, but often times too dirty to tell. I will leave them alone now because I know how tough it can be in a Div. III corps.

Another strong step for this new corps. I was impressed with the size and maturity for such a young group having only been in the activity for two years. I have not seen any other Div II Corps this year, but I think they will compete well with the others. The uniforms are very stunning and well designed, however they do have the look of a Cesaro, but I do not know if they are for sure. Another Strong drum line. Some very interesting writing and good integration with the horn line. After the performance the crowd was noticeably more alert and excited. I really hope these guys continue in the right direction.

With a name like "The Troopers are coming" I was expecting something kind of corny and old school. I was surprised by the more modern show that they produced. This is by far the best I have seen from the Troopers in a while. They maintained their heritage with some patriotic music woven into the show very well. I really liked "Ghost rider in the Sky" at the end. They ended the show with an encore-like presentation of 'Taps'. Very effective. I liked this show.

Very exciting show. The music was very accessible and user friendly. The brass played with better quality than what I am used to from them, nice sounds and a balanced choir. A few individuals sticking out here and there and some rough articulations, but over all, better. I did not like the guard. The flags look like they were made in a kindergarten class and they were wearing white, possibly the worst color for a guard. The work was simple and uninspiring, but clean. Very strong drum line, they play a drum break in the show that is sure to raise you pulse and get you going. Overall, the best they have been in a while. I expect them to make finals again.

Music is not accessible and not user friendly. Some very interesting things in this show, especially if you enjoy high brow music. I loved the hits from 'Medea' thrown in here and there. The crowd did, however, have that feeling of sitting on there hands that we have come familiar with from the Glassmen. The horn line was also much improved. They are also making nice sounds and balancing well. Probably a few more individuals sticking out that BK, but just as good tone quality and articulations. The drum line was not as shown off as other corps, but the writing was tasty and understated. Over all a good show, but there is definitely that bore factor. I actually though they would beat BK, but it was close either way.

HOLY FREAKING' CRAP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! If you see on the news that Wichita Falls has been blown away, that is thanks to the Phantom Regiment. This is the loudest Bb horn line I have ever heard. This show has so many notes in it that I did not know what to do with myself. One lick after another poured off the field each one more impressive than the last. And all while sprinting across the field. I think an early favorite for high brass. The visual was kind of dirty with an occasional marcher looking out of place. But the forms were solid and the confidence was high. At one point at the end of the opener a Melo player took an extra half step to keep her balance, and just like a well trained member she did not move to reset her feet so as not to create any more movement. A very mature decision. The guard was more edgy than usual wearing tango dancer like costumes, but they are playing music based on the tango. I do think it fit the show, but a little unnecessary. The Regiment need to get down on their knees and thank the lord for giving them Paul Rennick. This drum line is smoking'. Lots of notes and plenty of exposure. One of the coolest parts of the show was when the entire pit played a castanet feature. Again, a tango thing. This show has the talent and design of a top tier corps and I expect they will do very well when matched up against everyone.

I hope you have enjoyed reading my first review, and thank you for taking some of your time to read it.

Steve Vaden

Thursday June 24

Charlotte, NC (DCI Atlantic)

Charlotte Review (sort of) - I say sort of because:

1) It was an exhibition
2) I was in the ticket booth most of the time

But I figure you guys out there would like to hear something about the show so here we go:

First, it should NOT have been a standstill. The rain was steady but very light. There was no lightning, and the field WAS tested and deemed safe by a corps member in the presence of all six corps directors and the chief judge. The vote by the corps directors was 5 to 1 in FAVOR of marching. Out of respect I will not reveal the one corps director who did not want to march, however I find it absolutely unreasonable that the opinion of ONE PERSON decided the entire event for six corps and nearly a thousand fans. That corps was also the ONLY corps to not be in full uniform (no jackets) for the standstill.

I do not fault the kids of that particular corps, they wanted to march, but this whole "safety" mantra is being way overused and abused by directors who simply don't want to march unless conditions are perfect.

Okay enough of that. Here's what I heard musically. I'm sorry I can only give general comments as I was working and listening at the same time.

Court of Honor - For a DIV 2/3 corps, not a bad sound. Obviously some cleaning is needed but they are putting some volume into parts of their show which sound decent.

Magic - They are playing better than I expected. Their Pirates show is lots of fun and it looks like there will be some nice visual moments to go with the music (their guard did perform). Horn line was decent if a bit raw.

Spirit - Horn line was solid but not spectacular, although it was slightly better than Magic. Spirit's strength this year is the percussion section. With some cleaning this could be a top 12 show assuming they march well.

Crossmen - Horn line has some ensemble problems and they don't play as loud as I'm used to hearing the Crossmen play (I'm told they're still filling some holes). However, the show is entertaining and their drum book is quite good, although not quite clean yet.

Boston - The best drum line of the night. Brass was very good technically but they don't quite have that ensemble sound all the time. The power chords are fantastic though and the show is entertaining. If they march really good, they should do well this year.

Crown - The best horn line of the night. They have the ensemble sound through their entire show and the tone is just glorious. The dynamic range of the group is very wide. The amped vocals from "Rent" sound really nice however I would like a little more diction during the beat poetry section as the clarity of the words gets lost in all the cool percussion stuff going on.

BOTTOM LINE - Had this been judged, Crown and Boston would had duked it out for the win. Crown had the better brass (Boston a close second) and Boston had the better drum line (Crown a close second). Who would have won would have depended on who marched better.

My guess it would have run like this:

1st - Crown or Boston (flip a coin)
3rd - Crossmen - no question
4th - Spirit - no question
5th - Magic - no question (but closer to Spirit than one might think)
6th - Court - no question

Hope this holds everyone over until we actually can get some real scores, (oh yes, and a new DCI inclimate weather policy).

Mekel Rogers

Wednesday June 23

Enid, OK (DCI Central)

First off let me start off saying the weather and stadium were excellent for performance. It was mild, clear, and hardly no wind. The stadium filled up fast and set the stage for a great night of corps performances. Me and my friend pulled in from Oklahoma City just in time for Phantom Regiment's Clinic, and let me say they have a solid work ethic and staff on hand.

AMERICANOS: Bless these kids heart for their performance, but the show was quite dirty. I know it will get better with time and it's early, but it was dirty. They had way more percussion than brass and guard. Speaking of guard, they marched 4, but it seemed like only 2 or 3 performing while the others sat out on the side line most of the show. I didn't understand that, but hopefully with time they will get put into the show.

MEMPHIS SOUND: They had a good sound and solid percussion. They also had a rather large guard in my opinion for a division 2 corps. The guard has been really working hard and it shows.

TROOPERS: This show is a definite improvement from past years, but not anything to write home about. My friend liked the middle part of the show when the corps and guard danced around. They have an upbeat, americano feeling show, but I guess that's every year.

COLTS: Great music, very enjoyable show, large guard and solid sound, but nothing stood out.

BLUE KNIGHTS: I wasn't really impressed with this show at all. Their show is titled " A Knight's Tale", but the guard was wearing these white suits with blue dots and blue bow tie looking things. I wasn't close enough to get a good look but it didn't seem to go with the theme. The music didn't do anything for me either and it didn't seem to have anything thing to do with the theme as well. Sounded like an excerpt of Tritico at the beginning of their show but unsure. We were confused about this show and it's meaning. The guard seemed pretty good other than a few drops here and there.

GLASSMEN: WOW! This is the first show they have done that kept my attention from the first note to the last. I loved the guard uniforms, but was confused with all the uniform changes. Guard seems to be better than years past and the corps is LOUD! I mean solid percussion, solid sound, great drill once it's clean and I know they can clean drill. I believe Glassmen may have a top 5 show on their hands. Great job Glassmen members and staff.

PHANTOM REGIMENT: Guard uniforms need to go. Seemed to wild for Phantom. I think they would have been better off with a more classical look. Their show is a big change from the normal Phantom show. They have great moments musically and visually, but Phantom needs to stay with the traditional classical music. They have killer runs and notes throughout this show and they are marching during each one and it's sounding pretty good. The drill is lots more interesting and complicated than past years and pretty fast in places. I loved the opening hit and ending company front, brought chill bumps. Like I said, this show has some great moments and drill, but they need to stick with the traditional classic shows. Once they clean the ending it will smoke....They should be heading for top 5 again. Great job Phantom staff and members.

Well, that's all from Enid, OK. Great group of corps, great crowd and great stadium.

Next I'll head to Broken Arrow, OK. on July 7th to see Cavies, Bluecoats, and Magic.


Sunday June 20

DeKalb, IL (DCI Central)

Good ole DeKalb! What a strange feeling it was to arrive for a DeKalb show on a Sunday eve (still used to the full weekend of festivities held in mid-July)!

Weather was perfect... cool, crisp night, but not a cloud in the sky. Initially, it appeared it was a very small crowd. But, I'd say that after intermission, it looked like concert side was a little over 1/2 full, which is more than I expected for a Sunday night (Father's Day no less) in DeKalb (I imagine there were very few people FROM DeKalb there, and most suburbs of Chicago are at least 30+ minutes away). (Those of you who have not been to DeKalb are probably thinking, "whoa, 1/2 full, that's not a lot at all", but concert side is fairly large, and even for the full DCM finals of yester-year, it was rare to see a completely sold-out show, if you don't count the mass numbers of other corps members in the stands to see a show).

One mistake I made was not looking at my ticket for the time of the show. For some reason, I assumed the show was at 7pm. So, I showed up a little late for a 7pm show... which makes me really late for a 6pm show that it really was scheduled for! OOPS! So, unfortunately I can only comment on the post-intermission corps, as I arrived just as intermission started! My bad.

WARNING: the review you are about to read is from a drum corps alum, who tends to be rather attention-deficit. Meaning, I look at one thing, think it's cool, then jump to another. What impresses me might not impress you. I just try to offer a few thoughts about shows I see, for those of you who can't make it to them. Before I get to corps specifics... I truly appreciate all the hard work each and every one of those kids puts on the field every day/night. I would never say "Joe's corps sucked"... because "Joe's corps' members" work just as hard has "Jane's corps' members". So, my comments are more about the quality of different sections within the corps, as well as the quality of the show overall. I'll also add comments I heard around me for each corps.

Colts: Brass line didn't sound as loud to me has they have in past years, but that wasn't necessarily a bad thing. It appeared to me they were trying to play with control, which added some dynamic to their book. Drumline seemed a little small, and colorguard appeared very young. The one thing I have always appreciated about Colts is that they seem to have a show that will challenge them all summer, and it always seems to be a show that has room to grow. I only wish I had the chance to see them later in the summer, as I believe this show has potential. People around me were saying they enjoyed the selection of music, and I agree with them! Colts are always a fan favorite, as they are consistent each year.

Glassmen: There is "good news/bad news" all over this show, depending on how you look at it. On one hand, the show was very, very dirty. Is the show structure truly several points behind Bluecoats? Not necessarily. But in terms of cleanliness, it definitely is. Guard had drops all over the place. Percussion had phasing problems front to back field. Hornline had several difficult passages that were not clear. But, I see this as all good news, as Glassmen are known for their ability to clean, clean, clean. I heard that they have been hurting in the rehearsal time area due to weather. It appears they have a talented group of kids this year; it's up to the staff to tweak and clean this program.

Hornline is LOUD! I thought they had a nice quality sound, and I think there is a lot of potential for this hornline. The first few minutes of the show are really good. The show draws you in. But, the middle portion of the show seems to be a bit confusing to me. Could be because it's the dirtiest part of the show? It appears to me that the middle part of the show is supposed to be aggressive, both in the music and visually. However, the corps appeared to be just trying to survive! My guess is that more time has been spent on the opener and closer. Because the end then drew me back in. The closer is a rendition of Appalachian Spring, and I really enjoyed it. People around me had many positive comments about the show, saying that the show was more accessible this year. I believe this show has very good potential to launch the corps back into the top 12 this summer.

Bluecoats: This was the disappointment of the night for me. Overall, the show is complete, and solid. But... it didn't really draw me in like the other corps. Each section is solid though. Colorguard definitely is good, and brass is strong as usual. Drumline surprised me with their strength. Problem was, show seemed flat. In fact, from my seat, Glassmen had a better audience response than Bluecoats. Comments around me were that it was a "solid" show, but nothing special stands out.

And now on to the amped corps.........

Cadets: I could barely tell they had their pit on amps. There were a couple of parts here and there that seemed to stand out, but nothing obvious. So, that's good, as it did not distract. Once again, a strong corps. Solid in all captions as usual. Colorguard features a baton-twirling guy throughout the show. Once, maybe twice, is enough. They had him out there (I think) 4 times. That was overkill. Most people sitting around me agreed. There were a couple of phasing problems, which may have increased the cushion between them and Cavies. If you are panicked about the Jethro-theme, don't be. Cadets pull it off very well, and tastefully. People around me also liked this show. But, it's DeKalb, and you know who most people are there to see.....

Cavies: WHOA. This was yet another show I was apprehensive about with the James Bond theme, but not anymore! I don't even know what to say... this corps is so solid, there's little to comment on! The colorguard is phenomenal. They are wearing tuxedo-like tight fitting outfits that are very clean visually, and go well with the corps unis. The visual package is stunning as usual. My only complaint: too many dang things going on to see it all! I know I missed a lot. At one point, the drumline is throwing down on side 2, around the 35 yd line, but then I look to side 1 at the 5-10 yd line and the colorguard is doing their thing down there! Whiplash city!

Amps in this show were WAY more noticeable. But, they added a lot to this show. This will make people groan, but I can see how adding the amps to a program enhances the show. Watch the Cavies, and you'll know what I mean. They were tapped up a few notches for the drum solo, so the pit wasn't drowned out, and it gave me a big ole "wow" moment. The crowd LOVED this show. Crazy thing is... it's not done yet! They ended on a more soft, full note at the end of "For Your Eyes Only", and those who are true fans KNOW this was not the real end! Rather than play out the rest of the book in standstill fashion, the drum major just cut off the chord, turned to the audience and smiled, and took a bow, almost as if to say, "if you liked that, wait till you see what we're going to do next.... but not tonight!". On one hand, that bothered me because I paid full ticket price for a full drum corps show... on the other hand, I can't wait to see them next time! Someone next to me joked, "oh, so they didn't finish the show... it's not like they were busy working on anything else!" If they scored over 80, and the show isn't finished.... you fill in the blanks.

Ok, so that's my version of a "review". Now, I need to get back to work!


Saturday June 19

Toledo, OH (DCI Central)

Glory Cadets

Got to the show a bit late, and only saw the last half of the show from behind a guy much taller than me. From what I heard from behind the though, it sounds like these guys have got a great year ahead of them.

Memphis Sound

The original music formula proves true for Memphis. Very good composition, but the execution of the show could use some work. But hey, it's the first week of the season. I see lots and lots of potential growth for their sophmore year on the field.


WOAH. First corpsgasm of the night. Where did these guys come from!? With their newfound strength on the field, and brand new unis, it almost seems like a completely different corps (I think I liked the old ones better, though.). This was by far the strongest I've seen them come out in the first week, and with a spectacular show, too. Lots of moments for the talent in the group to shine, including a rope toss from a member of the guard somewhere near the middle of the show. I can't quite explain it, but keep your eye out. It's fantastic!

Kiwanis Kavaliers

Hrm. West Side Story seemed like too safe of a show theme to me, I definitely would've like to see the Kiwis field something different than this show. This show's got room to grow from a performance standpoint, and maybe it'll grow on me as the season goes by. One song features a bari soloist that I swear was louder by himself than the entire hornlines of all the corps before them. Impressive volume, however, it was a bit inappropriate considering the volume of the accompaniment behind him. The show ends with half of the drumline on trash cans. Seems like they could've done a lot more with this than what they actually did.

Capital Regiment

Here's an organization that's got it's act together. It's been amazing to watch how fast they've come to where they're at. Once again, this seemed like too safe of a show idea (Holsinger), but the brass arrangement was beautiful, and the line made it sound great. I feel like this was the first corps that had more than two dynamic levels, and I can't wait to see more from them later in the season.


Bloooooooooo! My favorite part of any show that the Bluecoats are at is listening for people around me asking confusedly, "Why are they booing them???". The Bluecoats are one of my very favorite corps, and they've been getting better every year. The staff changes to the corps made a huge difference, and you can tell! It's hard to miss the visual dirt with the white pants, but there's a lot of movement on the field, and I can't wait to see this show later on! Great music, and a great sounding corps in general. This show was the first one to get me on my feet, and applauding. Way to go, guys!


Great sounding brassline, and a decent visual book. Nothing to write home about in the visual department, though. However, I couldn't take my eyes off the two ugly, glaring PA monitor stacks on either side of the pit. It's a shame to see an entourage of people running around with rolls of cords, and wires, and a guy tweaking a mixing rack before a drum corps show. I barely noticed the difference volumewise. The keyboards sounded a bit "flat" (EQ-wise), and lifeless, which I assume was my ears hearing the amplified mix coming through the speakers, but once again, didn't seem like much of a difference in ampiltude.


Urgh. Love the Cavies, but once again...more speaker stacks. But anyway, WOW. This is by far their most accessible show since Four Corners, and I think was a great choice to make as a departure from the original music theme. I can't speak much for the drill since I was on the 30, but the opener looked incredible from my viewpoint. Amazing sounding brass, and great arrangements of the Bond themes. There was a guard member kneeling in the endzone for most of the show. At first I thought he might be "the" James Bond, but after the opener, I realized that he probably just wasn't in the drill yet. Sure enough, he joined in during the back half of the show. I left the stadium feeling a bit disappointed though, as I feel that the back half of the show didn't have nearly as much visual intensity as the first half. As a DCW staff writer I spoke with after the show said, "there was no gimmicky move". After years of double helixes, diamond cutters, sit 'n spins, and other various moves, though, I've come to expect this from the Cavies. I suspect that the show may not be done, since the ending didn't really feel like a closer. A most enjoyable show, though, and I'm betting it's going to put up some good competition for the title later this season.


The G-Men get more entertaining for me every year, and I absolutely love the latest incarnations of their uniforms. The mini shield looks great, and since it looks like they're going to change the color of it to compliment the guard uniforms every year, it's just that much better. Speaking of those guard uniforms...woah! This is the most creative guard uniform I may have ever seen. If you haven't seen it yet, I won't tell you what it does, but it's pretty neat. Appalacian Spring? Hrmm...

So! That concludes the night! A MOST enjoyable night, and I can't wait to see most of these guys on Tuesday in Canton.

Ross Kuhn

Wildwood, NJ (DCA)

If you were a fan, you could not enjoy the opening show of the 2004 DCA schedule any more... IT WAS GREAT!!! Cabs - We hope you host this show every year... It is a great opening... Where can you go - to have a air conditioned seat, with a back on it, and have seats 10 feet from the field with no track, no wind problems for the guard, ACTUALLY HEAR the corps members breathing while they were playing their horns, and see the intensity of the corps members faces... It was great... Percussion was loud at times indoors, but all the fans i talked with.... ENJOYED IT EMMENSELY. Good Job!

The Corps are doing very well this year....

Reading Buccaneers started off the year with a FULL-Voiced Fanfare of Festive Overture and one could sense right away - that the BUCS are Back. A full size corps that went from goal line to goal line showed off of Shostakovitch's Best. Lots of Demand - with split tempos, and drum line running across the field as if they were sprinting. Color Guard has many many new effects with the bent flags, and the new equipment holders that actually help the weapon line in the file. They seemed like the MOST creative corps of the evening, with the most pleasant drill to watch. They will be one of the major contenders all year. Good Luck Bucs...You are awesome.

The Hurricanes were on next. One of the crowd Favorites. Warming up to Rhapsody in Blue, with screaming soloists and playing "They Call the Wind Maria" as a Ballad, there was not a dry eye in the house. Color Guard was big and good. Favorite part of the show was the Hurricane Shield coming forward in Magnificent Seven... Awesome Production. Good Job.

The Skyliners are also doing better this year as well... Many multi meters in the opener with a BIG Guard as well. Where are all these corps getting these big guards from? Creative Brass arrangements should help this corps move up the ladder. We shall see.

Brigadiers... Rumors that they were going down because they didnt have 100 horns. Well their 52-54 horns sure did sound like 100. The show has many many well designed effects, from bass drums sliding out from the pit, from screaming sopranos letting it rip from the sides, to coordination of color guard making everything fit perfectly. Awesome drum line, Awesome drill, Awesome Guard, and Awesome Brass. Most effective corps of the evening.

Caballeros... Not as ready as the Brigs, but have the potential to tear down the house... Horn line and the battery percussion section was the tops in my eyes, of the night. They sounded great. Guard seemed a bit behind Reading and Brigs, but have the talent. Drill lacked some coordination to Brigs and Bucs. It should be an interesting Race between Bucs, Brigs and Cabs. PLUS whoever else is out there....

Crossmen... IF you looked at Cabs, Reading and Brigs then Looked at Crossmen, it almost appeared as if Crossmen had oldest people of the night marching except for the alumni. Lots of experience, with some nice arrangements of Both Sides Now, with mucho field coverage. If you are a Crossmen fan, this is a show that reminds me of the early 90's. Daring, In you Face, and it really makes a statement. They seem to still be adding horns... Saw like 5-6 standing out the last number... They are full and EXCITING...

Alumni Corps - It was good to watch Duke Terreri and Frank Ponzo just let it rip. Watching Larry Kerchner stand in front, listening to his arrangements... Felt like 1970 all over again..Drum Line was HUGE... like 10 Bass Drums, 4 bongos, 8-9 snares. Powerful Backsticking solo from drum to drum. Reminded us, when drum lines use to play a solo, instead of sprinting across the field at 4 steps to 5 yards, playing as many notes as possible. VERY ENJOYABLE. Echano was cool, too..They were another highlight of the night, as people enjoy music that you can recognize.

Overall - Show was worth the money to drive down to an air conditioned football field...Hope they have it next year.

Mr Bud

Was at the Wildwood NJ DCA show the other night and heres a review of what I saw and heard.

Let me first say that the venue (Wildwood convention center) was actually better than what I was expecting. If they padded the walls and ceiling and put in cloth covered instead of plastic.... it might cut down the echo a bit.


Well the Bucs really got the show going with their show. They have a pretty balanced corps and the build into the first big hit in the opener was fabulous and put the crowd right in the palm of their hands. Marching looked a little better from them tonight than they usually look in the early season. The color guard did very well and the whole corps finished the opener with a great amount of intensity. There were some minor timing issues from the brass and percussion in the very start of the 2nd tune but locked in within 16 or so counts. The drunline is pretty big and when featured are right up front. Some of the marching transitions were a bit sloppy but that is the norm for this time of the season.

Summary: The crowd REALLY Loved the Bucs in Wildwood and I think the key factor was the fact that the corps maintained a good intensity thoughout the entire show. Drumline is going to be great and expect good things from the folks from Reading PA.


The Hurricanes had a real tough challenge following the Bucs but did pretty well with there 50th anniversary show titled "The Magnificent 50" Some very familiar favorites (Praise his glorious, mag 7). The guard did a fine job and the whole corps did pretty well with field coverage. A couple of great soprano soloists keep you on your toes with a great part leading in to the 2nd song. They were a few phasing issues and the drumline had a nice drum feature that seem to end abruptly. The drill leading in to Mag 7 is pretty cool with squares of horn players who converge to make a large form.

Summary: The corps is doing pretty well and seem to be on pace with prior seasons. The show ended kind of abruptly but I am guessing that they have a little more to add yet. Crowd liked them.


The Skyliners performed the music of George Gershwin. The brass had a good opening statement, as did the guard. The marching seemed to be ok and I think they probably cover the field less than the Hurcs. The end of the opener was strong. The opener was the corps best number.... things kind of simmered down until the drumline came front and center for a drum feature. It is actually more of a pit feature and keeps your eyes and ears out for the mallet players in the pit.... they did real well. The end of the show builds nicely with the guard featured on dual white, black and red flags. Real nice affect.

Summary: The corps opener was their best number and I am sure that they will be starting to intensify the rest of the show. The guard is probably the best guard they have had in a couple of years..... crowd liked them.


The Brigs brought us a show titled Caravan and even though they are sporting fewer members on the field; they are performing really well. Maybe a little to well for this time of the season. The brassline is really strong and hit you with a wall of sound. I couldn't help but notice how big and good their guard was. They really added to the impact moments of the show with big rifle and flag tosses. Actually in the opener it took no time at all to see the guard working 3 things at once.... Sabers rifles and flags. The sop soloists are amazing and really wail at certain times of the show. Drumline performed fairly strong and had some great stick work during the drum feature. I really like the corps ballad again this season and the sop and bari soloists are back. The guard (And the whole corps for that matter) has a great moment in the ballad with dual see-through purple flags..... Nice affect. Ending was strong but it looks as if they have a few additional pages of drill to complete yet.

Summary: The corps is performing really well as I said for this time of the year and it kind of concerns me. They are pretty clean and I am not too sure how far they can take this show. I do like the show and the ballad will probably be one of my favorites this season. Super crowd reaction.... and definitely a contender for the 2004 DCA crown.


The Caballeros are bringing us an all-original show again this year. The show opens with the pit making the opening statement and the hornline and drumline in the middle of the field. The mellophones had a bit of a ruff start but clicked right in shortly after. The corps was very strong at the first big hit and gave the crowd the biggest sound of the night. The guard is really good again this year and the drumline is playing very well overall as well. The drill is really spread out this year putting some members as far away as the 10 yardline or so. The mellophones had another shaky starting note (Must have been an off night) in the 2nd song (Ballad). I really like the Cabs ballad this year...... I actually like it more than last seasons (The Prayer). The hornline shows off a lot of musicality and are doing a pretty good job with a very demanding book. I noticed quite a few individual marching errors but nothing unusual for this time of the season. Ending of show was AMAZING and really brought the house down.

Summary: Definitely a corps that means business and looks to have another tough, exciting show. It will probably take most of the season for all the I's to be dotted and T's crossed. The crowd went CRAZY and I for one can't wait to see it again.


Performed their show called Unity and were a little more on the ball then on Sunday night in Allentown. I still don't like the opener too much and think that my preseason concerns about their show are coming true. The show really reminds me of 1999... abstract opener and great ballad and final number. The drumline seemed to be driving a bit more tonight and they added a 7th snare. Seeing a top senior corps and junior corps made for a great opportunity to compare. The biggest difference that stood out to me was marching..... the Crossmen just seem to be moving really fast and smooth... and all of their tempos were brighter.

Summary: Corps is getting better and the crowd enjoyed them. I love their ballad.... really nice.

Cabs Alumni:

The Cabs alumni did a really fine job for their first field performance of the season. The hornline is as strong as ever and they are actually doing a fantastic job with a lot of new music. The drumline is a little bigger and the folks on the flags did a fine job. I like the show and am always amazed at how exciting they are to watch and listen to.

Sorry for any typos.


Friday June 18

Menasha, WI (DCI Central)

This is not an official review - I'll leave that to those that understand music, visual, etc. I like what I like, but may not be able to tell you why.

Met up with frequent poster Jim Anello at the Menasha show. Maybe he can provide better descriptions and impressions than me. These are random thoughts, ramblings, observations.......

The night was cool, bordering on cold - now Wisconsin 'skeeters, tho. At least that was pleasant. An "acoustic" show - NO AMPLIFICATION!!!! I kept telling Jim after each corps, "Just needs a little amplification" (Kidding, of course.)

Had a chance to talk to Dan Acheson - I am relly impressed with Dan... I first met him several years when I checked the Glassmen into their housing site in Appleton. I feel Dan really cares about the organization and the future. He's the guy in front and may seem to be wearing a target, but he's a pretty good stand up guy.

The Americanos worked their tails off the past few days to put a complete show on the field. Was it dirty? Yes!! Will it get better? YES!!!! About 25 percussion, including the pit; more percussion than horns. Only 2 in the guard?

Blue Stars: The first you notice is their size!!!! WOW!!! It's almost like you stepped into a time machine and were transported back to the 70's. Horn line had 47!!!! Full percussion and guard. In years past they would come with an unfinished drill and the guard in t-shirts and shorts. Complete drill and a GREAT start to the season......

Colts, nothing jumped out at me, very enjoyable show with recognizable music.

Phantom - sorry, but I really don't like the guard "costumes" - I like the classic look that Phantom generally put on the field. Their show is a change form the normal Phantom "phormula". I guess the music is more audience friendly. I don't know much, but I don't think the show stands up to last years....

Madison - suprise!!!! Big out of the blocks!!!! Jim had seen them at a preview in Whitewater the night before, so he knew what was coming. He mentioned they were better tonight than last night. Guard is all in black, but it works with the contrast to the corps proper. I love Malaga. Was worth the price of a ticket for me!!! And of course the encore had them playing it again. The last chord literally PULLS you up out of your seat!! Oh yeah - did I mention I love Malaga?

So, the season has begun!!!!! Madison ekes out a win..... Let the debates begin..... In good manners, of course.......

Oh yeah, did I mention I loved Malaga?

Mike VR

First, thank you, Mike, for your hospitality. If it weren't for you, I would not have had a seat high and on the 50 for a very nice early season show.

Happily, the only person using amplification tonight was the show's announcer.

It was good to see the host Americanos on the field. From what the announcer said, they have had more than their fair share of off field troubles. Given all that, it was a gritty performance by both the staff and the kids that they marched a complete show. The show is an exploration of Latin music, a natural for the "Canos." The big challenge Appleton will face will be their sizable percussion line playing soft enough to give their 18 or so horn players a chance to be heard. To their credit, the design staff kept the corps between the 30s, so the corps could hear each other well. Last, kudos to the two person guard. It's tough being "on an island" like that. Biding their time until more members are recruited would be a natural response, so I give these kids a lot of credit for being on the field. Hopefully, they can pick up some additional horn players and guard as the season progresses.

Up until I heard Phantom Regiment's score, the night's big surprise had to be the Blue Stars, if only for their sheer size. As Mike said, 47 horns were complimented by a full guard and percussion section. As some of you probably know, they are playing music from Japanese cartoons. Not familiar to me at all, but very pleasant on the ears. The 2004 Blue Stars could be this year's 2002 Cap Regiment - they're that good.

I have always loved the Colt's big horns, and they didn't disappoint tonight. Their opener, American Overture, brought back fond memories of 1975 Phantom Regiment. After that was an extended percussion feature that frankly left me a little flat. The final piece offers some oppportunities for genuine on field comedy, something we've talked about on this board from time to time. I'm sorry, I can't remember the title of the piece, but I bet some of you band directors out there can help me. The dominant tune is sounds an awful lot like "The Old Grey Mare Just 'Ain't What She Used To Be." I've heard it done as a wind band piece. Can you help me out here??

Many corps tend to stand and play when the licks are tough, and Phantom Regiment is no exception. However, after the opening statement of their show is a fugue with some pretty tough horn licks, and the men and women of Phantom Regiment marched through all of it. Kudos to the staff for having the confidence in the kids to plan that. As I read about their show, I couldn't place the tunes. After having heard the show, NOW I remember - both last year's Minnesota Brass and the 1999 Blue Devils played sections of this music. I haven't seen any recaps, but my perception was that they didn't march quite as well tonight as Madison. These two corps will probably swap victories all summer. I'm glad to see the rivalry is back.

As Mike mentioned, Madison was very strong tonight. You guys know I'm a big fan of theirs, so interpret all that I say with that filter in mind. Even though this is the 'Canos' show, it sure seemed like a Madison crowd. Like a lot of corps, Madison is good at feeding off a receptive crowd and giving it back to them between the eyes. Tonight was one of those nights. Yet, they also seemed to be in control of the technical aspects of the show. While the marching is by no means perfect, I saw more forms click tonight than I saw Thursday in Whitewater. The instrumentalists have a good sense of the impacts and how to build to them. The guard continues to impress, especially when I think back to the "skeletal" presentations by guards in early Madison shows of the not too distant past. It should be a lot of fun to see how this show progresses.

I must confess I was pleasantly surprised by the results. While, I felt Madison and Phantom Regiment were close, I honestly thought Regiment would be slightly ahead of Madison. Go figure. So, like the kids on the buses probably did, I grinned on the ride home. It's only one show, but I think it is the first time Madison has beaten Regiment since finals in 1999. Tomorrow? Forget about it - time to get back to work!

Jim Anello

This was the Americanos home show. Very nice stadium, big, good seating, pretty good size crowd. I live in Green Bay and didn't see the show advertised anywhere (newspaper, tv), so it was nice to see a good crowd. But, it was COLD. And windy. Yikes. I believe I saw the Executive Director in the crowd a few rows in front of me - I refrained from making any snide amplification comments.


Note: these comments are from the perspective of a brass player, take it as you will...

Americanos: about 45 total in the corps. 18 brass. They did a fine job.

Blue Stars: Well, they're the largest they've been in decades. About 90 total, 45 brass. I think the staff could have made a better music selection. I guess I was disappointed. It's the first competition of the season, they will clean up considerably.... Music was Japanese anime, and not at all approachable, I thought.

Colts: Good percussion work, dirty brass (as expected). It seemed in all the corps that the percussion is ahead of the brass. Nice sounds with Old Man River as a closer. Thought their score was about right.

Phantom: Is Phantom, as always. You could tell they learn their show in order from beginning to end, i.e. the beginning of the show was clean and great (blue devils '99 - the piece where the brass ended up playing at the back corner of the field - can't remember the name, the flamenco sounding piece), the end was pretty dirty the last 2-3 minutes. They will clean up considerably, and I will not be surprised if they leave Madison behind. Their closer will smoke. Some impressive drill, several "wow" moments. But they were quite dirty at the end and I was not surprised Madison won.

Madison: Surprise here was that their margin of victory was not bigger. Their performance was the most complete from beginning to end. Shades of '88 and '95 (and '75! - horn twirl) in their show. Malaga smoked - it's a different arrangement than you've heard before. And the end of Malaga just goes on and on and pulls you to your feet. A great diagonal company front halfway through the show. Guard work compares closest to '95 - they've come a long way from two short years ago.

Closing ceremony: A new arrangement of America/ O Canada?? I don't know, as I didn't get to any shows last year, but it's definitely different from '02. A more complicated arrangement, I liked it.

And, as Madison won, we got to hear You'll Never Walk Alone. It would have brought goosebumps, but they were already there (refer to 1st paragraph).


Here is a review with a percussionist point of view from me an Americanos Alum.

First off, I want to say it was cold out even for me a Wisconsin resident who truly knows the meaning of the word. The show started at 69 degrees and when I went back to my car at the end of the show, it read 56. No mosquitoes thank goodness.

Next, just a quick note about the Calder Stadium; large for a high school type stadium with a good viewpoint throughout for anyone tonight. I do want to mention that the lines at the concessions were not the greatest due there never being enough popcorn. Also, there were no snacky type foods like milk duds or anything. Just burgers, popcorn, soda, and water. I know with all the problems that the Canos have had lately with a fire, theft and what not, I just thought it would have been a little bit better than what it was. Sorry if that may upset some of my past staff that is with the group, but it's the truth.

Americanos: I was pretty impressed with a powerful sound they had with so few brass players. Can't say it was all a "good quality sound", but they must have been working on it seeing they have an issue with percussion just way out numbering the brass. I was very impressed with the bass drum line, these kids have a lot of notes and they played the heck out of it for the first show of the season. I really enjoyed the ballad with them ending the statement with pit. The true disappointment was only seeing 2 in the guard. I heard from the person who was sitting in front of me that they have something like 6 more guard but wasn't in the show tonight. This is the first time that I can really remember the Canos having an issue with numbers in guard. BTW, I did not like their guard unis at all. Is there even a guard staff???

Blue Stars: You can't help but notice their size from in years past. I felt so great for them when they took the field and the crowd let them know it before the start. The thing that really bothered me with their show was the lack of cymbal sound. They only had a few sets of hand crash cymbals in the pit and one suspended cymbal. There are so many great moments that would make the corps sound a lot fuller if they would put in suspended cymbal rolls and crashes. Drumline was large and was at a point you would expect at this time of year for a corps. Brass wasn't as powerful as sound, but the full sound and quality of sound I would say topped Canos. The music I think is neat, but not very familiar to anyone. It does leave a lot of potential and I can't wait to see what the future will bring for this corps. I give a "Way to go!" to the Blue Stars.


Colts: You can't help but notice the different type of music they are playing with the opener. Not what you would expect, but as I said to my lady that I brought with me, "it is kind of refreshing", in a good way. Their drumline is where I would expect them this time of year. This may surprise some of you, but there was not much that caught my eye with their show. I think they have some big arranging issues they need to address to give it some depth for them to be in the thick of things. I would compare it to sitting on a tube on a lazy river rather than taking that tube down a waterslide. I don't know what will happen with this corps this year without some of these arranging issues at hand. I hope the best for them in any case.

Phantom Regiment: It's been about 2 years since I've last seen them and I was suffering from some withdrawal. A neat intro to the show with a line from one side of the field expanding to the 50 and spreading out the corps. Hornline was nice and powerful this time of the year. Drumline was really a thrill for me. Some nice moments with snares and tenors. There were about 3 bass drum runs that got me laughing because it was so cool to hear. Also, 4 concert bass drums in the pit at one time for sure made an earth rumble that I've missed from the days of the Cavies. I really liked what this corps had tonight and can't wait to see them the rest of the season.

Madison Scouts: If you look back at the years and compare them with this group, you would have a hard time just by listening that this was in fact Madison. There was a couple screaming soloists in brass but that was all that I could recognize from the true Madison style of the past. The opener had some neat percussive sounds that drew you into their show. Brass line was very strong for this point of the season. I now must make a comment about the drumline and their arranging. This arranging is a huge step up for Madison, very musical in my opinion and finally no metal sound plate rolling in the background on a big chord. Whatever the organization did with music in the area of percussion, keep it! This is exactly what the corps needed! Finally, the end of the show has a long chord that you just can't help but stand up and cheer for them. Made my night worthwhile even in the cold.

I'll be at Menomonie on Sunday. Hope to hear great improvements then.

Dave Peters

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