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 Post subject: SCV 1981...........
PostPosted: Sun Aug 05, 2007 11:05 pm 
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OK, this is to honor a request from a year ago by BAC8687.....I'm FINALLY taking the time to dig into my memories about SCV and 1981!!

The first thing I remember is......I almost DIDN'T march SCV in 1981!! I had a bunch of good friends in Blue Devils who were pushing me to "go north" (kind of a inside joke - Concord is about 1 hour north from Santa Clara). I almost did, but I decided to wait until the banquet to find out what the new show was going to be (Gail traditionally announced the new show at the banquet). When he announced we were going to bring back "Young person's guide", I knew I would be marching SCV - that was my DREAM piece to march and play!!

The winter and spring was for the most part uneventful...at least in our eyes. Outside the corps, things were a bit different - there were LOTS of rumors going around about the demise of SCV (remember we had taken the dreaded 7th place at finals in 1980, and for a few years it seemed like anyone who had taken 7th ended up dropping out of finals 1-2 years later), partly fueled by the size of the horn line at one of our spring "cultural concerts" (these were sit down concerts featuring some of the show music as well as other things.....we only had about 40 horns playing one of the concerts and people thought we were in big trouble). The reality is that some horns were sick that day, we hadn't gotten some of our "imports" yet, etc....but it sure stirred up some big rumors and speculation!! The most important thing about the winter/spring was the development of an ATTITUDE. By April or so of 1981, members of the horn line would start staying after the end of our Thursday night practices and play through the show again (sometimes 2 or 3 times). It started off with 4 or 5 people, but within a month upwards of 20-30 people were doing it. We started bonding as a "family" because of things like this - and some of the drums (and even guard) joined in sometimes! We would then all go out to a local bar and play pool, eat buffalo wings and just hype on SCV. By the time we got to summer almost half the corps was going out to this bar after practices.....not really to drink but just to hang out and have fun together. It was this kind of ATTITUDE that I think REALLY helped us a lot that year - we didn't think of ourselves as a horn line, drum line or color guard - we thought of ourselves as a FAMILY all in it together. Everybody supported everyone else - there was VERY little bickering amongst the sections (to this day I still have not seen a group bond so closely as we did in 1981).

OK, now the summer - I checked out some of the score archives (at corpsreps as well as the SCV website), and there are several INTERESTING things missing. First, the opening weekend. We actually had 2 shows the weekend of June 13/14 that year - the first one was up in Concord and the second one was in San Jose. This was the beginning of the season for both us and Blue Devils, and there was a lot of curiosity about how we were going to be (in 1980 we lost the first show by NINE POINTS to the Blue Devils). We felt we were A LOT more prepared compared to the year before, but how would the judges react? The answer to that is........VERY POSITIVE. We lost the first show to BD by .35 and the second show we BEAT BD by .35!!! This gave us a HUGE boost emotionally - our goal throughout the winter/spring was simply to get the corps back in the top 3 (winning DCI was NEVER mentioned once). Beating BD at the second show proved to us that top 3 was a real possibility - and we pushed even harder as a result. The early part of the summer was kind of up and down for us......we lost to Phantom by 3 points in Denver, we beat them in San Jose but lost to Blue Devils by .35 and in Los Angeles we had a bad show and got beat by BD by 3 points. Consistency was hard to come by early on.....we had a young corps overall (but anchored by 10-15 solid vets, at least in the horn line) and they were still getting used to giving 100% at EVERY show. We also struggled a bit because we had "new" uniforms (gone was the green stripe on the red tunic - it was now a white stripe) and it exposed us more from a visual standpoint. Our early season visual scores were a prime reason why we ended up adding the "velcro" fronts to the uniform that year - we added them to our uniforms mid-season and debuted the changing of the fronts at DCI midwest.

We had our tough moments as well.........the most difficult being when we lost one of our lead sopranos the show before DCI midwest (the Stillwater show). He SEVERELY injured himself the afternoon of the Stillwater show (no details - it's a painful memory) and was on the operating table for 5 hours that night. It was REALLY hard on the rest of the corps, and if you look at the Stillwater scores you can see how down we were. We found out the next morning (Gail told us personally) that our lead sop pulled thru the operation and was going to recover - but he never finished the season with us. He stayed in the hospital for another 10 days and then was flown home - we chose NOT to fill his hole and if you see any pics of the corps from late in the season, you'll see his aussie hat underneath the drum major podium (our tribute for him). Anyway, the fact that we knew he was going to recover gave us a HUGE boost - and the scores from DCI midwest reflect that.

After DCI midwest, everything really came together. In Michigan City we beat Phantom and 27th, and then in Cincinnati we beat Madison and BD. IN fact, after midwest we only lost ONE show the rest of the summer (and again, this is not on corpsreps or the SCV website) - it was the last show before DCI. It was in Ogdensburg, New York on a converted softball field (they brought in porta stands and the judges were up in a cherry picker). We lost to Madison by .35 that night.........looking back it was probably the best thing that could have happened to us. It gave us the incentive to get focused one final time and prepare for DCI - and WE DID. Even with the success of the last 2 weeks of the season, we NEVER talked about winning - we purposely avoided that topic (even after winning DCI prelims we STILL didn't talk about it) and chose to focus on one practice at a time, one day at a time. We were also fortunate in the fact that Gail (being the amazing man that he was) was smart enough to reserve the olympic practice field (a 10 minute walk to Olympic stadium) immediately after DCI in 1980 - a FULL YEAR ahead of time. We didn't have to worry about long bus rides to a practice field (we stayed at the Ramada Inn that year, across the street from the old olympic athletes village) - we could virtually WALK to the practice field from the hotel. We could spend more time practicing and focusing instead of bussing to and from someplace. Also, because we DID practice at the olympic practice field, we had A LOT of spectators - which put us in a "performance" mode and increased our level of focus. All of this combined put us in GREAT shape, and as a result we beat BD at DCI prelims by almost 2 points (1.95 - still a record I think for the biggest 1-2 prelim spread in history) - and we ALSO won high brass at prelims (THAT is probably the fondest memory I have of DCI that year, FINALLY beating the Blue Devils in brass!!!!).

Finals night will always be etched firmly in my memory, and I really don't need to give a lot of details here......we all know what happened. Suffice to say, when we heard "and in second place, the Blue Devils" it was a jumble of feelings - excitement because we just won, sadness because one of our own was still recovering in a bed in California and fulfillment because of the type of season we had and the unwavering commitment and dedication the entire corps showed throughout the summer. We knew it was going to be close - we were on the back sideline during the end of Madison's show and they were ON FIRE that night - and BD still went on after us. We only won ONE caption at finals (M&M) but we were close in all other captions. Blue Devils won brass and GE, but were NINTH in percussion (a big reason why Tom Float was hired in 1982). We also started a "new" tradition that night..........before 1981, every corps that won would "go crazy" upon hearing who took 2nd place. We talked about it the afternoon of finals (the ONLY discussion we ever had about winning) - IF we ended up winning, we decided NOT to "go crazy" - at least right away. We decided to remain in ranks until AFTER they hung the medals around our necks, and then upon the command of our horn sergeant, we were allowed to "go crazy". The audience didn't understand at first, but once they saw (and understood) what we were doing, they cheered even louder. One other fond memory of that evening.......Gail conducting "Send in the clowns". He promised us that week that IF we won, he would personally conduct it at the victory concert. He kept his promise, and all I can say is that it was a VERY SPECIAL moment for all of us in the corps.

One last little bit of trivia.........4 months later (January of 1982). Our rings had finally arrived and many of us met at the corps hall on a Sunday afternoon to receive them. It was January 10, 1982 - which ALSO happened to be the day of the NFC championship game between the 49ers and the Dallas Cowboys. I will NEVER forget being with all of my corps buddies, wearing our new champion rings........and crowded around a small TV in the corps hall watching Joe Montana pass the winning touchdown to Dwight Clark (known forever as "the catch"). We all went out and celebrated that night........at the same little bar we had been going to during the spring and summer of 1981.

Whew.........THIS was a long one!! Sorry to take up so much space and time here, but with DCI week upon us now I thought a nice story about the greatest comeback in DCI history would be a good way to "kick off" DCI week here on the forum. Enjoy!!

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SCV lead baritone 1979-1981
SCV alumni corps 2002
Wind symphony/orchestra director
Guangxi Arts College, Nanning, China


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 07, 2007 5:22 am 
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Great story! Thanks for sharing!

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 07, 2007 7:23 am 
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When SCV competed at that '81 Stillwater show, I wrote in my column for Drum Corps News that SCV looked as though they would probably win the world title. You could sense it, even if you had an "off" night. A bunch of friends and I went to watch SCV practice the night before at Oakland Junior High.

I have the video from that show. The weather was horrible....wind and rain. The local ABC TV station, KSTP, did a one-hour documentary which mostly followed Madison, but had some behind the scenes shots of SCV rehearsing, as well as on-field scenes of SCV, Blue Devils, Madison, Bridgemen, Garfield. Bridgemen came off the line with their circus opener in an absolute downpour.

I always liked "Northridge".


August 6, 1981 Stillwater, MN

Blue Devils 85.5
Madison 84.35
Santa Clara 82.35
Bridgemen 82.1
Garfield 79.75
Blue Stars 66.45
Seattle Imperials 64.15
Rivermen 62.15 [/i]

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 Post subject: Thanks.......
PostPosted: Tue Aug 07, 2007 9:45 am 
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Hey Malibu.........glad you enjoyed it! To Brian - we also loved 'Northridge' a lot as well, but for some reason over the years many people have referred to it as the "no name" opener. I suppose the fact that it was only used for one year is a possible reason - whereas many of SCV's openers during that era (and whole parts of the shows) were used for 2 years in a row (a common practice for many corps then).

As far as Stillwater.........we honestly didn't care what our score was that night (our minds were on obviously on something else) and the staff knew that as well. It was one of the few times that Gail didn't go over the recaps with us immediately after retreat and none of the staff was upset with us either - it was simply "let's get on the bus". We knew that we were better than the score indicated, and once we found out the next morning that our injured member was going to recover the staff talked with us and basically said "NOW it's time to get out there and show them what you're REALLY made of!!" It worked........at Stillwater we were a "shell" of a corps walking on the field (we might have looked like SCV but there was nothing inside us that night) but at Whitewater we were THE VANGUARD once again. It was THE turnaround of the season for us, and it was enough of a boost to push us all the way into Montreal.

Brian, if you ever get the time or inclination to digitize that video you've got of Stillwater, I would LOVE to see it (I'm sure many people here on the forum would love to see it as well)!! I know it's probably too big for something like youtube.........but perhaps a bit torrent file? Maybe Dave can create a area here on the forum for things like this and members could download it? I know there are probably copyright issues that would prevent this...............but it would STILL be wonderful to see it after all these years!!

Something to think about Dave - besides, I also have some videos that people would love to see as well. It's not drum corps, but CHINESE marching bands (I filmed some excerpts when I was in Beijing last month for the Beijing international band festival) - suffice to say some VERY interesting videos. I'm glad to post them for people to see, but I don't really want to do the youtube thing - so IF there was a area here on the forum to post things like this, it would be GREAT!!! I also have some video clips of chinese concert bands too - if I can post them somewhere convenient I'll be glad to. Thanks again Malibu and Brian!!

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SCV lead baritone 1979-1981
SCV alumni corps 2002
Wind symphony/orchestra director
Guangxi Arts College, Nanning, China


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 07, 2007 9:56 am 
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I never heard of the brass player injury in Stillwater. I wondered why the "tribute" hat was placed where it was. I can only imagine the concern.

My daughter spent 3 weeks in China in May. She loved it, and plans to return next year. She's studying Chinese at the University of Minnesota, and is a global studies major, with a focus on China.

I'll check on digitizing the video. KSTP made a broadcast format (3/4") video for me back in '81, plus I have it dubbed down to 1/2" video. I have a DVD/video cassette burner, so I can dub my old video tapes to DVD format. So far I haven't dubbed any of my tapes, and I have dozens of home videos, drum corps stuff, etc. I hope to get at it soon.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Aug 07, 2007 12:09 pm 
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Brain, do have any '81 videos with Crossmen???

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 07, 2007 12:52 pm 
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Unfortunately just a rather poor dub someone taped off the air of the DCI Midwest broadcast.

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