Part 8: My Kingsmen journey

by Jeff Davis, DCW staff and member of the Anaheim

This article originally appeared in the July 27, 2007 edition of Drum Corps World (Volume 36, Number 8).

A little side note. Don’t know if anyone else did this, but I printed out my rehearsal schedule and put it on the fridge awhile ago so wifey would know what’s going on.

Anyway, we had to register for the August kamp and have the option to stay on or off campus. So, I ask the wife her opinion on possibly staying with her brother who lives close to the school, you know, to save some money (just trying to be fiscally responsible).

Take note, that was apparently a mistake. Not only did I not get an answer to my question, but I got the old “you have all that vacation time, but aren’t willing to spend it with the kids.” Even after all this time, she still doesn’t get it. Never mind that one of the kids will be off at camp and I’ll have my brother and two out-of-town friends staying at the house.

Later that day, I sent in my registration to stay on campus. I look at it this way. It’s a no-win scenario, but it’s probably best to be immersed in drum corps for that last week than to deal with “family matters.” Besides, they’ll be there Saturday when it’s all over.

So, finally made it to a Tuesday night rehearsal, after a good warm-up (marking time throughout with Dr. Beat) we worked each section of the show, breaking it down. We tend to get too caught up in the emotion of the moment instead of allowing it to build, because it’s a pretty fast-paced tune. We just want to belt it out. It takes a tremendous amount of control to play forté instead of double or triple forté. I think we’re making progress.

Again there was a great brass turnout and the influx of baritone players over the last few months was evident. The last section of the closer just cranks tempo-wise. I know I mentioned this before, but since that is all we have left to learn visually, let’s just say I’d like to be up high to watch us learn that part. Don’t worry, I’ll keep you updated.

I really appreciate how the corps members are looking out for each other. We come from a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds and those who are able to assist financially over and above what is required do so with gladness. I almost feel like singing Kum-by-ya or We Are the World or something.

The guard ladies provided a tremendous feast for our “Ocho de Mayo” celebration (Tuesday night rehearsal). It also turned out to be “freedom horn” night (French horns). Just when we thought is was safe, another would come in the door. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say they won’t settle for anything less than complete horn line domination! They are like the Borg (for you “Star Trek” next gen fans). Most likely, it was just because there was food.

You know how when you get home you put your spare change in a jar or something? Well, we have the “Big Blue Bucket.” We’re asking for people to drop in a dollar each rehearsal, but they can put as much or as little as they want. All the funds will be used to help those having trouble meeting their KAC obligations. It’s yet another sign that we are here for each other. We don’t want anyone to miss this truly once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Kamp Kingsmen May 2007 –- Western HS

Now back to our regularly scheduled program. You may recall my last entry was after the April kamp. Here we will bring you up to date on the Memorial Day kamp as well as the five-day June kamp.

At approximately 1:23 PM on Saturday, May 26, we finished the last 10 pages of the drill. I just love giving you all little glimpses into what we’re doing, but not divulging so much that you figure it out. I do this to pique your curiosity.

As I indicated earlier in this article, this is the fastest part of the show and moving and playing at 160 bpm does have its challenges. You have little time to lock your sets before moving on to the next, so you better get it right the first time.

This is the final section of the closer and once the tempo reaches warp speed, it stays there. So, we are moving (for older guys and gals, that’s moving). As far as how it will all end, I’d bring earplugs if I were you. Earplugs and umbrellas, we’re expecting some baby-throwing at the end.

Turnout-wise, it just keeps getting better. I know many people use this three-day weekend to do “fun” things. Well, for us this was fun. It was really great to start cleaning so that we are all on the same page.

Kamp Kingsmen June 2007 -–
Cal Baptist University

Home to the first-ever KAC kamp was a welcome sight. Once again, first-rate facilities here at CBU. Another tremendous turnout as close to 300 members made their way to Riverside.

Wednesday was the usual goal-setting meeting and introductions before we headed off to work in sections. We were advised there were only 130 rehearsal hours and 51 days left before our performance at the Rose Bowl.

To think that the hard work and dedication we have put into this, for some over two years, will be ending that quickly, is a little sad. We knew this day was coming, but it seems to be a runaway freight train at the moment.

Last year at this time we were gearing up for the debut performance at the Walnut show.

This year, it’s all about DCI. The Thursday and Friday rehearsals were spent going set to set and working some on the second drum solo and concert. Cleaning is going by much faster and I want to thank the staff for the frequent water breaks. I know for a fact we had maybe three breaks back in my marching days. Not quite sure how we were able to survive. Youth has its advantages I guess. The pedometer topped out at 10,299 Friday. I’m still hoping to hit 15,000!

I also came to find that one of our new mellophones, Paul Olivo down from San Jose State, aged out of Vanguard in ’78. So, I hate him now! : – ) Anyway, the kamp went really well and everyone is excited to see the progress. When there are some “bumps,” we are able to recover quickly. Just observing the members, even when the instructors complement us on how well we’re doing, you can see that the members know they can do better.

There’s a determination to not just blow people away come August, but a realization that there is a standard that they must live up to. While this may seem like pressure on the members, it is a beast of our own doing. The reality is, we only have so much time to get this thing clean. Thankfully, we have a performance on July 14, where how we perform “under pressure” can be gauged and whatever changes that need to be made can be identified.

It will also allow us to get whatever first-show jitters there may be out of the way. The last thing any of us wants is to blow it on August 10 and have to live with it the rest of our lives.

As a note of encouragement to my KAC brethren, I refer to Paul addressing the church in Philippi, “be like-minded, having the same love, be one in spirit and purpose. In humility, consider others better than yourselves. Look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

This whole endeavor is about something greater than the individual. Our time is short and getting shorter every day. Make the most of it. Enough preaching.

Saturday was a great rehearsal day, with even more solidifying of sets and a better understanding of how it all works together. The concert is just going to kick some serious, well, it’s great. The closer is also going to cause some serious audience reaction. What am I saying? The entire show is likely to be one for the ages!

I stayed after they released us to watch the drum line (all 45
of them) practice for another hour or so. This is not something I would normally do, but since time is running out, I need to soak in as much as I can. They have some really jamming parts.

Then it was time to visit Kasa de Kontra. Mark Porter from Red Lion, PA, borrowed his parent’s fifth-wheel for the week and made himself “ comfortable.”

There’s not too much better than just hanging around talking about drum corps. But at 12:30 AM, it was time to pack it in.

Thankfully Sunday didn’t start until 11:30, but most of us were out there warming up or helping in whatever manner we could. Mike Duffy (arranger ’71-’73) was working with the baritone line for awhile, then a few of the mellos, French horns and sopranos joined in working the color presentation.

We again worked ensemble, locking in timing. Seeing that we are spread all over the field, there are challenges with ensuring we don’t listen for cues, but rather, look for the tempo from a drum major. After a few full show run-throughs, it was time to “bring it in.” As tired as we were, I know we could have done it “one more time.” It was the hard work of the members, staff and support group that made this kamp a success.

At this point, I am really starting to soak in the enormity of this project. From thought to conception, it boggles the mind. Time is moving much faster now and I encourage all KAC members to realize just how fortunate they are.

The next and final article will include all KAC events up through the August 10 performance.

Stay tuned.