It was a very good year: DCAssociates in review

by Timothy

This article was originally published in the October 2008 edition of Drum Corps World (Volume 37, Number 7).

A bittersweet year for this writer it may have been, but with plenty of great performances during the campaign, it cannot be dimmed by a season without finals.

Kudos are insufficient when it comes to a précis of the Reading Buccaneers’ achievements over the past four seasons. Does “seamless” begin to touch upon what the black-and-blues from Pretzeltown have treated us to? I have actually heard a couple of small-minded naysayers cavil about the amazing skein that the corps has built.

I say: go ahead and build your own corps. Have them in mid-season form by the end of June. Assemble quiet strength in every single caption, with no slackers. Proceed to wow the crowd with familiar classics, exquisitely presented with a single goal — excellence. Then you’ll win, too.

Second only to this storyline is the ascendancy of Minnesota Brass, Inc. Much props to the Land o’ Lakers, who came in and turned Rachacha on its collective year. Given the consistency of the top dawgs in the circuit, it’s no small feat to turn years of 4-5-6’s into a solid second-place finish.

The Connecticut Hurricanes also broke through to the other side. The Wind blew into ’08 assaying an absolutely beautiful pastiche of Americana with best guard in the biz . . . and their best finish since, gulp, 1982. Throw in a couple of “who are those guys?” regular-season wins, to boot. If you really want to do it by the numbers, try an 8.1-point vault from their score just two years ago. Or that this corps didn’t make finals just five years ago. See my tribute to the Thunder from the Valley elsewhere in this issue (above).

My favorite night of the year didn’t occur at a drum corps show. Itching to get some early-season corps into my bloodstream, I journeyed to Kennedy Stadium on “Barnum’s” eve and happened upon the CorpsVets’ rehearsal. Bedraggled from the long bus ride, the Hotlantans treated me to an elegantly conceived show, bringing winter to the hot Bridgeport summer, along with a meaty mélange of roots-music magic. Staff maven David Henry was at the mike and his directions were cogent, succinct and proof positive of how hard staffers work to put a product on the field. Myself and a good other dozen in da house just sat back and enjoyed.

The Statesmen rolled into West Haven for the August 23 regular-season finale with championship boots strapped on. Their greatest hits medley worked for me, especially with fillips from “Miss Saigon” and “City of Angels”. If the finale tribute to Mr. B. didn’t leave a lump in your throat, you need to find another activity.

This last pre-DCA Championships weekend furthered the ES/Cabs/Hurcs troika that battled neck-in-neck all season long. Rarely do DCA fans get this much quality . . . this bunched together.

The Cru Crew from Rochester can trot out Russian faves for the next umpteen years as far as I’m concerned. It just Modest-ly works. And without a note from Rimsky or Korsakov, either. P. I. Tchai next year, gang? Here’s a corps that proves the overall ramp-up in quality displayed by DCA over the past decade.

Briefs and shorts

I think the panel finally got it right when they put the Empire percussionists in second place at finals.

Anytime Carl Ruocco is in the building, I can count on a warm hug and some excellent drum corps banter.

Cripes, did I miss Star United this Labor Day weekend. Along with a bunch of other stuff. Like handling Cozy’s PR and working on my horrid French with members of Le Dips. My GI tract did not miss another fusillade of Nick Tahou’s garbage plate, though.

Is it just me or does Joey Pero show more quality in his upper-range passages each year? After the West Haven show, he was nice enough to take extra time to chat with my daughter, Grace, especially when he found out she was a trumpet player. The result — a wide-eyed, open-mouthed, absolutely thrilled sophomore.

My wish list for Bush: keep that tremendous guard and bring back a program that involves the audience, yet still holds true to the corps’ model of sublimely-presented bizarreness.
Is Mark Lortz ever going to get any credit for the Bucs’ pit? Does anyone come close to them? Jami Mills, will you marry me?

You want to mangia after a show? Make sure Park City Pride is there. The GlovBunch is a fun bunch and you won’t go hungry. You might even get into a doo-wop sing-off, too.
Jerry Kelsey, I’ll make up for our annual “state of the corps” debate/discussion next year.

This goes a couple of years back, but I’ll never forget Bridgeport Mayor John Fabrizi at the “Barnum” show. As the Cab Alums came onto the field and delivered their first blast, Fabs ran up to me and shouted, “Izzat PONZO?”

Gang, stop bantering and put Moe Knox in the Hall, willya? It took long enough for Artie Hlywa. Just a polite nudge, folks. Congrats to Art, one of the true gentlemen of this activity, in addition to being a tremendous brassist.

Also missing in action in Rochester was the voice of DCA, Fran Haring. Woe betide those of you who didn’t notice. Here’s a guy who never gets credit for the amazing job he does, year in, year out. If you think that emceeing a show is as simple as introducing a corps, think again. There are a zillion other tasks that come with the job. It’s like being a baseball umpire — no one notices until there’s a snafu. All of us are keeping good thoughts for Barb . . . and hoping to hear those dulcet tones again next year.

Short as my season was, I deliver thanks to all the players, staff and behind-the-sceners that make DCA work. See you — whenever — on the sidelines.