June 23 , 2007 Bridgemen Tournament of Stars Invitational

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frankiE
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June 23 , 2007 Bridgemen Tournament of Stars Invitational

Post by frankiE » Sun Jun 24, 2007 6:41 am

This was the first event of my three week live Drum Corps 2007 Extravaganza and my summer is off to a great start! The weather was spectacular ( except if you were a flag tosser- a steady high breeze was coming off of Newark bay ), temp in the 70's, not a cloud in the sky!

A good size enthusiastic crowd in a small stadium, the sideline was about 10 yards away
from the front row. This show features alumni, junior and all age corps in a non-competitive
exhibition format. Many of the alumni corps featured a color presentation, and dedicated
these to the cause of the men and women of our country in harms way ( no rah rah, just a show of support for courageous brothers and sisters ) :flag:

First up ( right on schedule ) were the Emerald Grenadier alumni corps ( GO GIRLS ), and
they sure did. The small hornline really put out from an arc formation, and they have this
Amazon snareline that a lot of corps would love to have, they were really laying down some
stuff! This fine group of ladies really acquitted themselves well.

Next up were the all-age Sunrisers: They are very small with a dedicated and talented group
of musicians and guard, every year it seems I find myself hoping that next year they will
have the numbers to really get back to where they were. Sorry I don't mean to offend, I really wish you folks a bright future, but kudos for giving it your all.

Up next, and in your face, were THE New York Skyliners Alumni, and the show level took a huge step up here :!: They enter the field with their famous streetbeat, and you have to hear the effect of fourteen snares playing to believe it's true. These drummers should be on a registered historic landmark list ( with the NY Skyline ), they are just unreal! The corps plays from a standstill formation ( one guy even arrives early with a cane ), but I'll take it anytime!
It could have been 1966 or 1972 ( songs in this year's book ), and if you heard John Urspruch
nail the closer in 1972, you can hear it again in 2007 ( I believe it was a slim downed
Urspruch last night?) Skyliner's concluded with an encore of " Elk's Parade, and the horn
ensemble had the stand's going wild, and the mellophone soloist had the ghost of Pepe Notaro smiling for sure :cheers: !

Park City Pride was next, they march at times, and park and bark with some great guardwork
going on for a great effect. Excellent drums, great horns, and effective guard ( including
the ladies who switch between cymbals and rifles ). A really large corps that really entertains
and pays tribute to the corps of Connecticut ( a reprise of the PAL Cadets "You'll never walk
alone in the future- PLEASE! )

Bias alert: For one shining moment in December 1966, I wore the Gold & Black until reality
( college and money ) set in. The Blessed Sacrament alumnni corps was on next, standstill
formation but who cares: they reprised my all-time favorite " Procession of Bacchus", and to
this day I still know every contrabass note from National Emblem. Powerful horns, alltime
killer highbrass with stupendous solo work, and I can never get enough of the dynamic interplay of the Dick Burn's charts, which I believe to never have received it's due. Great Performance! " Free Again " puts the stands into riot conditions to this day! :D

Incredibly, intermission arrived 10 minutes early!

The Cabelleros Alumni restarted ( mild understatement! ) the program, and if you have a
chance to see them, it's worth the price of admission by itself. In this day of robotic
Drum Majors, Jimmy Russo is a hoot! He set up shop on an abuttment between a garbage can and an old video camera on a tripod in the stands : Some folks had no clue who he was, even an elderly woman trying to pass gave him a pat on the head :tup: The famous Russo war cry of " This One's for You " was in your face to everybody in the stands! The outrageous drumline shows what ingenuity can achieve in a rudimental environment without pit presence. No offense to the other HOF soloists, but Frank Ponzo stole the evening: articulation, volume, range :towel: and tone between shouting to the crowd, I have never heard a better performance than this.
The rest of the corps - yikes! It's a true time machine ( maybe better?).
CHA CHA FLAMENCO Forever! :!:

Cabellero's all age corps was next, a tough place to be. A nice program, high drill demand
and a world class drumline, unfortunately the hornline will hold the corps back from title
contention ( IMHO ) . Note to guard uniform designer - give the guys a break ( Manlaw #1 )
A seemingly young corps with a promising future ahead, but a very talented corps.

Next up were the defending champion Reading Bucanneer's, who marched without a guard so it is hard to gauge the whole show. The Buc's are DCI style, even to having a 64 person
hornline, and a full percussion section ( 9S -5Q - 5B - 6 cymb- large pit ) and a DCI
type drill. They start out with the " New Era " chant, but to me the book is a rehash
of the corp's recent programs that won with different but similar pieces. It's very early
in the year, and they have a ton of dirt to clean, IMHO if Bushwacker's or Statesman
are on their game the threepeat is not a slamdunk, although likely. I would love to see
some solowork to go with the obvious Gino Cipriani moments the horns feature.

Up next to last were the Jersey Surf ( apparently the Bridgemen's adopted siblings! )
One of the most balanced hornlines of the night, good tone and volume control with
excellent effect. Rock solid drums and the guard had a rough night ( understandable
with the wind ), although one head scratcher was the stools some carried around yet used
sparingly? This is the most polished edition of Surf I have ever seen.

Last up and provoking a near riot ( entered with a police escort ala 1976 ) were the host
Bridgemen, and they are really the real deal. They pay tribute to 27th with a similar
rendition of "Danny Boy", and In the Stone was the real highlight for me. The crowd went
berserk and the Surf's hornline joined ranks for a lightsout performance of " Battle Hymn" :towel:


A perfect start for myself and even my wife was into it, she loves the smaller venue!
One note to the host corps to improve the show, give Fran Haring a call: the lack of a
Masters of Ceremony in favor of a PA guy was rough a few times: The fellow ( doing
yeoman work ) was reading the writeup for the All Age Cabellero's while introducing the
Alumni Corps: he was four rows behind me so I knocked on his window and got a thankful
oops! from him. Jersey Surf was standing ( and laying on the ground immobile ) for five
minutes until a savvy gent yelled out " Jersey Surf- you may take the field in exhibition"!
They didn't move, but it clued the PA guy to say " The Jersey Surf are next ", and the DM
started the show finally!

Nonetheless I'll happily be back next year, a great show in a great place sponsored
by A GREAT CORPS :D :D :D :D :D
wherever you go there you are

Ghost
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Post by Ghost » Sun Jun 24, 2007 12:16 pm

Thanks Frankie for that great review. Could just picture what was going on.

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