Warrington Drum Corps Association in fifth year; inducts five to hall of fame

Now in its fifth year, the Warrington Drum Corps Alumni organisation has gone from strength to strength in ensuring the drum corps heritage in this city is celebrated on a regular basis.

Warrington is a mid-size town situated in the Northwest region of England, between the cities of Manchester and Liverpool. The town covers approx 12 square miles and has an estimated population of 193,200 within its centre and surrounding suburbs. However, the town, which once boasted 12 competetive drum and bugle corps of various standards and sizes, now has only one active unit with less than 80 members.

With this in mind, the WDCA board decided to help raise the awareness of the junior activity this year to the alumni in an effort to grow and perpetuate the corps.

A special evening was held last month that once again was a fantastic success and lived up to its expectations.

Although the venue was different this year, the room was considerably full by the time the Cheshire Cadets opened the evening’s entertainment.

This was the first time WDCA had presented a junior drum and bugle as part of the festivities and they were popular with the predominantly local alumni audience. One audience member was quoted later as saying it was nice to see a drum line at the event and the Cadets certainly were enjoyable, with a complete pit including timpani.

The performance was opened with an arrangement of “Concerto de Aranjuez” and included solos from Georgia Kilshaw (mellophone) and Dave Chadwick (baritone). Georgia (8) is following in the footsteps of her corps director mother, Lisa, who was a mellophone player for many years with Free Spirit.

The repertoire also included “Four score and seven” which was a big-hitting chart of the Madison Scouts in the 1980s and showed off the young brass line’s ability to swing.

Danny Goodier performed a great soprano solo in Earth Wind and Fires “Got to Get You into My Life,” which brought a taste of 1970s pop funk to the event. The performance also included a number of percussion features.

The Cheshire Cadets’ performance was closed with Dr. Robert Smith’s “Beach Frolic” from the “Florida Suite” which had historic connections with many of the town’s alumni, as Free Spirit played this piece in 1989.

The corps is currently recruiting for new members for all sections and invited any alumnus with children to go along to rehearsals on either Wednesday evenings from 6.30 PM to 8.30 PM or Sunday afternoons from 12:00 noon for learners, at the corps’ headquarters, Kennedy Hall, Padgate.

After a short interlude to allow the corps to pack its equipment away and get changed, the next act to perform was WDCA’s own High Brass.

The repertoire was opened with Steven Spiegal’s “Latin Implosion,” moving into “Legend of the One-Eyed sailor,{ which featured Ronnie Rutter on mellophone and Chris Billington on baritone.

Next, the microphone was handed over to new Director Mark Geraghty, who has recently taken over the mantle from founding director Chris Jones. The band then played an arrangement of Hank Levy’s “Pegasus,” arranged for the band by Chris Billington. This tune featured Chris and tuba player Dave Ainsworth.

Retiring band member Reg Gutteridge played a melancholy solo at the start of Paul Hart’s “Remembrance,” arranged for the band by Madison Scouts vet Tez Smith. This piece also featured Ian Blundell on piano, and a trumpet duet by Tez Smith and Wayne Cooksley.

Tez’s arrangement blends the original Paul Hart composition and the fantastic Scouts version by Scott Boerma. This piece builds from a slow start to a real rocking piece, which allows drummer Gav Morgan and percussionist Ian Downes to drive some real hard rhythms into it.

A second Tez Smith arrangement was also featured and this was Don Ellis’ “Strawberry Soup.” This piece has become synonymous with the High Brass style, odd time meters, syncopated attacks and big punchy statements.

The last piece in this set was “Autumn Leaves,” based on the 1987 Bluecoats’ arrangement by Frank Dorritee, This tune was recorded by the band back in 2001 and has become an anthem on the UK jazz circuit.

The second set opened with a brand-new arrangement for the band by Chris Billington of “In the Stone.” This Earth, Wind and Fire classic was appreciated by both the players and the audience.

The band then took the tempo down a little bit through a short piano interlude by Ian Blundell which led into Barry Manilow’s “Even Now,” a classic piece of drum corps history on both sides of the pond. However, the 2004 High Brass version was based on the subtler Freelancers’ (USA) 1982 arrangement.

The final piece form the band was Tez Smith’s adaptation of Bill Holmans “Malaguena.” This again is a classic drum corps chart, however, HB version stays very true to the original written for the Stan Kenton Orchestra. Solos featured were by Mark Geraghty, Tez Smith and Chris Billington.

Copies of both High Brass CDs are available on-line through the Drum Corps World store. Click on “Current CDs” in the row of store icons to place an order.

Director Mark Geraghty announced about the future development of High Brass and the extremely exciting upcoming project for May 2005 of working, performing and recording with legendary big band arranger Bob Curnow (USA). Mark also announced that the band would have a slightly changed line-up in the future, with the addition of a full-time keyboard player, along with an electric/acoustic bass player.

Tonight’s performance was the last for two High Brass members, Andy “Reg” Gutteridge (mellophone) and Iain “Parky” Parkinson (trumpet). Both players have been with the band since 2001 and have been an integral part of the achievements of the group. Mark made a presentation on behalf of the band to both players as an acknowledgement of their contribution over the years.

The band is currently looking for replacement players for both parts and would welcome any experienced players who wish to be considered for the positions.

The details for the VI Annual WDCA Reunion will be finalised and announced shortly. Any ideas or suggestions should be directed to John Flannery or Mark Geraghty via the Web site — www.highbrass.org.uk .

One idea which was suggested was to perhaps hold a WDCA summer family day or BBQ, which would allow the alumni to bring along their family to an event.

The “WDCA hall of fame” recognises the achievements of the townsfolk who have contributed to the development of the drum and& bugle corps activity over the last three decades.

Previous inductees have included Harry “Slick” Lawton, Chris Billington, Craig Sherratt, Andrew Harding, Dave Hill (USA), Ian Kirk, Paul Walmsley, Ian Downes and Russell Malley.

This year added to that list were Adam Doherty, John Palin, and Lisa and Glen Kilshaw.

AdamAdam Doherty was the “quiet man” of drum corps in the 1980s. Formerly a member of the Phantom Corps, he went on to play baritone for Valley Sound, Northern Alliance and Poynton Commodores before he traveled a few thousand miles across the sea to march baritone for the Crossmen (USA).

After he returned, he continued to play with Poynton Commodores until the corps was infamously banned during the early 1990s. During the winter/spring of 1994, Adam, along with Chris Billington and Ian Downes, became involved with Free Spirit under the leadership of new corps director John Flannery. The corps had gone through major changes and was rebuilding and Adam became a significant catalyst in that rebuild and development.

Without the assistance and commitment of Adam, along with Ian, Chris, Ian Kirk and Gary Chadwick, Free Spirit would have not rebuilt and would not have won the DCUK A Class Championships in 1995.

Due to some issues beyond the control of many, the corps went through a turbulent patch in the spring of 1996, which saw the corps withdraw from the competition circuit. Adam was relentless in his quest to get the corps back on the field and 1997 saw the corps re-emerge. However, with the chips stacked against him, Adam still refused to give up and, although Free Spirit would be no more, he ensured that the members who still wished to be involved with the activity found a home, whether that was with local corps The Freshmen, or with Adam as he returned to Poynton Commodores as an instructor.

During 2000, Adam became a founder member of High Brass and somehow managed to find time for the band as well as his family (of now five children) and Poynton Commodores, where he and wife Kerry’s son, Scott, marches.

It was with great sadness that Adam retired from High Brass at the end of 2003, as he was instrumental in the success of the band. As such, he will always have a place available, should circumstances change.

As well as wishing him every success for the future, we are more than pleased to inaugurate Adam Doherty into the “Hall of fame 2004.”

John Palin was originally involved with the Warrington Scout Band in the 1970s, but during the early 1980s took over as a corps director, He oversaw the band’s break from the Scout movement to form the Phantom Corps and subsequent successful merger in 1985/1986 with The Sentinels to form Valley Sound.

Where he resided alongside fellow director Pete Sherratt and eventually took over the corps as single corps director during the late 1980s, he also initiated the setup of the Valley Sound Cadets, which gave an opportunity for both younger children to gain drum corps experience and also gave members of the senior corps an opportunity to try out some teaching and instructional skills.

We are honoured to make John an addition to the WDCA Hall of Fame in 2004

Glen & Lisa Kilshaw — This is the first time we have shared an honour and for that matter honoured a husband and wife team. However, Glen and Lisa have undoubtedly carved their own niche in the history of the town’s drum corps.

Glen had enjoyed most of his marching career with The Red Invaders (Elmwood Boys Brigade) who later became the Sentinels and then Valley Sound. However, due to life changes, Glen’s involvement ceased during the mid- to late-1980s. He emerged again during the 1990s when he was director of new corps Mercury Blue.

Glen later went on to instruct Free Spirit and then, in 1994, along with Lisa, set up The Freshmen.

Lisa was a former member of Free Spirit and possibly before that St. Andrews Boys Brigade, The Clansmen. She was part of the 1989 Free Spirit corps, which narrowly missed out on a DCUK finalist place. After a year away from the corps, she came back to Free Spirit as drum major and led the corps to DCUK A Class Finals in 1991, where they finished second, but became the only corps from Warrington to win a high brass title at a national finals competition.

She remained with the corps in a senior member and instructional role until 1994 when she formed The Freshmen with now husband Glen.

The Freshmen became, within a few short years, a very successful corps on the British Youth Band Association, rising through the ranks and classes at a meteoric speed. However, during the next few years, the corps had achieved a lot and perhaps was looking for or needed new goals, targets and also new direction.

It would have been easy to wind the organisation up, however, Glen and Lisa decided to allow instructor Stuart Vickers to form a new corps under his managerial prowess in order to give the members who wished to continue within the activity a local outlet. From this decision emerged the Cheshire Cadets.

After only a few short weeks, the corps had effectively become revitalised and re-energised and, as a result, the new corps asked Lisa to continue as director for the corps. The proof is in the pudding, During 2004, the corps competed in DCUK A Cass and, whilst it is still early days for the corps, they have a very bright future ahead of them and will undoubtedly write there own chapters in Warrington’s drum corps history.

It is with great honour that we add both Lisa and Glen to the “Hall of Fame.”