What have you done to strengthen the drum corps activity today?

by Chris Green

Well, the answer for two new corps in Texas is simple. They are building a drum corps circuit one corps at a time.

The senior/all-age activity has traditionally been the strongest in the Northeastern portion of the United States, with several successful corps in the Midwest (mostly within a few hours of Chicago and Minneapolis). Over the past decade, Heat Wave of Orlando, FL, has been making the 20
hour trip to the Northeast to compete in DCA competitions.

Over the last five years, CorpsVets of Atlanta and Carolina Gold of Raleigh, NC, have joined Heat Wave in the formation of DCA South, arguably the fastest growing part of the country in terms of all-age organizations.

The Renegades of San Francisco, CA, have helped revive the all-age activity in the West and are being joined at DCA this year by Dream of Southern California and sharing the competition field with River City Regiment of Sacramento, CA, in DCI Pacific All-Age Division shows.

Gulf Coast Sound of Houston, TX, entered competition this year for the first time after two seasons as a mini-corps (and indoor winter corps), and Frontier of Dallas, TX, has just begun steps to bring a competitive corps to the field.

Texas has been a unique drum corps situation. While many corps (DCI and DCA) have members from Texas, the state itself has had many corps hail from the Republic, but none have been able to thrive more than a few seasons. With the recent loss of the DCI Division II Revolution of San Antonio, TX, many are seeing Texas as a ground perfect for recruiting, but not as supportive of having a corps all its own.

Well, Gulf Coast Sound and Frontier are on a mission to change that perception. The two corps are joining in a philosophical concept of ‘More Corps = Better for Everyone.’

By looking at recruiting in a different way than some other corps in more densely          corps-populated areas, the two corps are hoping to help several corps get off the ground in the Gulf region of the U.S. With three corps from a region participating in DCA World Championships, the region can apply for a competitive circuit within DCA. This is essentially what has happened with DCA South and with huge success.

The idea is to focus local membership in a two-hour radius of the corps home. The secondary wave is to target metro areas in a four-hour radius. The idea is to get members from within a three- to four-hour radius    involved in performing with the respective corps, give them a representative seat on the board of directors, and get those people excited about starting a corps in their area.

By having members perform with the corps, they gain a new insight into what it takes to keep a corps going, both in rehearsal and on the administrative side of things. By having a seat on the board, those members will have firsthand knowledge that may not be available if they were starting a corps from scratch.

After a season with the corps, they can then turn around and help those members create the foundation for a corps in their home area. Hopefully, that new corps will in turn do the same thing.

By creating a circuit built around the Gulf region, corps in the area could greatly reduce their touring cost/time and increase their performance opportunities. Also, corps on the border of two regions (DCA South, DCM, DCA) could choose shows they wished to participate in.

“It is likely Prairie Sound would compete in Texas shows in locations such as Dallas, Austin and Amarillo. Those cities are close enough for us to attend in the span of a weekend. I also have hopes of having a Kansas City show and an Omaha, NE, show in the future.

“After Prairie Sound is solid, there is no reason we could not help start all-age corps in Denver or Colorado Springs, Omaha and St. Louis, Mo. All-age corps can be the entertainment event of the future for our areas.

“With many school districts holding a year around schedule with very short breaks, all-age corps will be an alternative for the high school student and an opportunity for us older people to experience drum corps once again.”
— Jeff Dancinger, founder of Prairie Sound of Olathe, KS

Gulf Coast Sound and Frontier will be heavily recruiting in the San Antonio/Austin area for the 2005 season. Both corps already have members from the two cities. Frontier will also be concentrating recruiting efforts in the Oklahoma City and Tulsa, OK, areas, while Gulf Coast Sound will tackle Shreveport, LA.

In the future, the corps in Tulsa and Shreveport can do the same in Little Rock, AR. The Oklahoma City crew can help Wichita Falls/Lubbock, TX.

“I’m thrilled to be involved with an organization that not only will allow a significant opportunity for us to keep marching, but will also lead to helping people from other areas start their own corps.

“Texas is such an important part of the drum corps community, it’s time that it had a major presence on the national level and I’m excited to see that the process has begun in such a strong fashion!”
— Mike New, Austin, TX

“The Gulf Coast Sound corps motto is ‘Corps: A group of people working TOGETHER toward the same goal.’ This is a philosophy that applies not only to GCS, but also to the way GCS treats our brother corps.”
— Jason Rose,corps director of Gulf Coast Sound, Houston, TX

Also, while it would be hard to recruit for performing members due to the enormous distance, we also want to try and get groups going in El Paso, TX; Wichita, KS; and Albuquerque, NM.

With current new corps projects also happening in New Orleans, LA (Southern Silver Star), Jackson, MS (Jackson Generals) and Nashville, TN (Music City Legend), future joint efforts in this recruiting concept are entirely likely.

Drum corps is a family. Let’s support all our cousins.