Just four little words

by Jim Claytor, DCW staff

This article originally appeared in the August 2010 issue of Drum Corps World.

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Ok, I’ll be the first to admit, I have a drum corps t-shirt fetish. After going to hundreds of shows and buying every t-shirt that my credit card will let me, something hit a couple of years ago that makes me just a little crazy at times.

I proudly wear my drum corps shirts pretty much everywhere I go, but the past several years I started to notice a trend in corps merchandising. Hardly anyone puts four simple words on their shirts or hats — “Drum and Bugle Corps.”

I know, it doesn’t seem like something I probably should be writing about, but let me explain.

This actually happens all the time, but a few weeks ago I went to the beach to play a little basketball and I was wearing my Blue Devils shirt. Once I got on the court, someone said to me, “So, you’re a Blue Devils fan, huh?”

I answered by saying, “Yeah I am, so I take it you’re into drum corps also.”

He said, “Drum corps? What’s that? I was talking about Duke basketball.”

Two days later I was wearing my Troopers shirt and the checker at the grocery store said, “Do you work for the highway patrol?”

I said, “No, what made you say that?”

She said because “you have a Troopers shirt on!” You know, as in Highway Patrol . . . duh!

So, I did my 15-second grocery line checkout counter explanation, which she throughly had no idea what I was talking about. But the kid in line behind me started saying, “Phantom, Kingsmen, Vanguard, Cavaliers,” until I looked at him and he said to me, “Those are my favorite corps.”

I could go on and on with all of the things people have said, but the kicker was three days later. I went to the gym wearing my Santa Clara Vanguard shirt and one guy said, “What’s a vanguard?”

After I explained it to him, he said to me, “Oh wait, drum and bugle corps, I remember, I went to that “marching band show” in Pasadena a few years ago with friends and wished I was 10 years younger so I could be in one. It was great! Now I remember the Vanguard, because everyone around me kept shouting ‘bottle dance,’ whatever that means.”

How dare he call it a marching band show!

A few days later I went to the gym again (believe it or not . . . lol) and the same guy was there. He came up to me again and said that he just bought two tickets for a drum and bugle corps show for him and his girlfriend in the San Francisco Bay area in June. He thanked me for wearing that shirt and reminding him about the activity.

“He” was the one who really convinced me to write this article because he said to me, “Why don’t they put drum and bugle corps on it so people will know?”

So my point is to all corps, Open Class or World Class — us drum corps people can spot a drum corps shirt or hat a mile away, no matter what it says, because that’s what we represent.

Putting those four little words on your shirts and other merchandise causes less confusion to those who don’t live and breath the sport like we do and by doing so we will possibly gain more fans and revenue to keep the art of drum and bugle corps alive!