Cavaliers win as drum corps returns to Canton

by Vince Lamb, DCW staff

June 22, 2004 — Canton, MI . . . Drum corps competition made a triumphant return to Centennial Educational Park in Canton Township twelve years after its last appearance there in July 1992.

While the previous contest was merely a temporary relocation of Drum Corps North from Eastern Michigan University’s Rynearson Stadium, this year’s Summer Music Games in the Park was a successful attempt to give Canton Township a drum corps show of its own. In some ways, it felt like twelve years had never passed.

The previous show was held in July 1992, ranking among the coldest on record in Michigan. This year’s contest endured clear, brisk, and breezy weather during a prolonged stretch of below normal temperatures for Michigan. However, as Centennial Educational Park is the home of perennial Michigan Competitive Band Association Flight I champions and BOA finalists Plymouth-Canton. It seemed only appropriate that the corps and fans were greeted by fall marching band weather! The many fans packed in the stands paid the temperatures no mind and were warmed by a set of high-energy performances by the corps.

As heralded by their warm-up, “An All-Time High”, The Cavaliers (62 B, 18 FP, 11 PP, 36 G, 4 DM) earned their highest score of the season so far at Canton as they continued their adventurous and debonair ways. Their “007” show contains many light-hearted and entertaining details related to the James Bond theme, beginning with the guard miming the MI6 agent’s handling of his PPK revolver.

The individual brass players being chased from set to set as he “escapes”, continues the theme, and finally, the game of “Spy vs. Spy,” where two brass players play as they “shoot” at each other across a rank of sopranos.

And all of those are before the first standing ovation! The musical interpretations dominate the second part of the show, with “Hovercraft” rocking, while it evokes a trademark Bond exotic location.
“Tomorrow Never Dies” taking turns being eerie, lyrical, and intense.

While the big gimmick move from the past three years is missing, there is a relatively big drill move along the back sideline one minute before the end of the show. I won’t spoil it for you—you’ll have to watch for yourself.

It is, however, reminiscent of some of their moves from the early 1980s. Although the ending seemed to be missing something, it was still enough to earn the Green Machine a second standing ovation and a sweep of every caption and subcaption over the only other remaining all male competitive junior corps.

So the horns are in B-flat and F, the uniforms are by Cesario, and bulwark of tradition Scott Stewart has been replaced with someone more in tune with 21st Century junior drum corps. So what! The Madison Scouts (60 B, 21 FP, 11 PP, 22 G, 2 DM) demonstrated that, at the core, they are the same Scouts corps fans have grown to know and love since the 1930s.

If anything, they are even more like the corps that won two DCI championships than they were during 2000-2002, pulling out signature drill moves that seemed to have been forgotten, including the ripple about face at the end of the opener, the whirlwind follow-the-leaders, the sound wedge, the company front that moves from the 40 to the 50 and then rotates, and finally the fleur-de-lis.

The guard has ascended again to the relative level it achieved during the 1970s and 1980s. The screaming soloists are back, and the rapport between the corps and audience is as well. Some parts of the show do differ from what they have been in 1974, 1984, or even 1994.

This is not your father’s arrangement of Malaga, or yours either, for starters. But, hey, you and your dad aren’t marching in the Scouts this year. Enjoy it and don’t worry. Plus le change, plus la meme chose!

From the very beginning of their show, when the sopranos add themselves seamlessly to a unison rendition of the doxology theme from Holsinger’s Ballet Exaltare, the corps continues moving during eight counts of silence, then the entire corps erects a wall of sound.

Capital Regiment (59 B, 18 FP, 10 PP, 20 G, 2 DM) demonstrated both the sophistication of their program and their ability to carry it off. They also displayed their commitment to improve the show. The sopranos dancing more smoothly and effectively along the back sideline, the more frequent organ-like sonority in the horns, and the increasing ability of the corps to engage the audience were all apparent.

The corps let loose from the very beginning of “Scootin’ on Hardrock”, pulling in the crowd and earning an enthusiastic standing ovation.

Five members have been added to Southwind’s (53 B, 24 FP, 12 PP, 33 G, 2 DM) drill since Toledo, two each in the guard and brass, and one in the pit. In addition, the closing drill also seems to have been revised, with a wave representing the climactic sandstorm from the film, replacing the standstill in a spiral set during an intricate run in the brass.

The only flaw in the performance from the audience’s perspective was a collision during the last minute of drill, which deflated the corps’ energy. Despite the additions, changes, and errors, Southwind still managed to outscore Capital Regiment in both Visual Performance and Brass Performance.

Jerry Goldsmith’s music from “The Mummy” still resonated with the crowd, drawing wild cheers, raising goose bumps, and lifting the crowd out of the stands for an ecstatic standing ovation at the end of the show. The drill reflected the Egyptian theme, with multiple pyramid sets and an upside down ankh.

The girls in the guard also echo this theme, with Cleopatra-style makeup. Even the musicians’ uniforms fit, as the triangles along the sash work as little pyramids. What luck!

The professionalism Kiwanis Kavaliers (36 B, 24 FP, 8 PP, 15 G, 1 DM) demonstrated in their debut in Toledo was on full display, again tonight. The corps maintained very tight control over the driving tempos of the opener, displayed very crisp step-offs and changes of direction, and managed to play with high levels of blend, balance, and especially intonation, despite the falling temperatures.

Their ability to communicate with the audience improved as well, as they drew chuckles and applause for the guard yelling “yeah,” “oohs,” and “ahhs” from the crowd during the final number.

Highlighting their relatively large size, Pioneer (38 B, 21 FP, 10 PP, 13 G, 1 DM) began their show spread from 5-yard line to 5-yard line and from sideline to sideline. They also utilized their full-sized drum line to full effect by featuring them in an opening drum solo as the rest of the corps compressed to the front sideline. Despite some phasing problems, the corps elicited an enthusiastic reaction from the audience, especially in response to displaying of the Irish tricolor.

The corps then lifted the excitement level even more during the back half of the show, as they debuted selections from Lord of the Dance and revived selections from Riverdance, which they had attempted nearly a decade ago. The spectators answered the corps energy with applause at all the breaks and solos, and punctuated the end of the corps’ performance with the first full standing ovation of the evening. The judges rewarded the corps with higher placements than Kiwanis Kavaliers in GE Visual, Total GE, Color Guard, and Percussion, keeping them within a point of the best junior corps in Canada.

Repeating their perennial pattern of rapid improvement during the start of the season by averaging more than a point per day increase in scores during June, the Marion Glory Cadets’ (17 B, 19 FP, 7 PP, 1 G, 1 DM) improved nearly nine points over their debut. While the chilly, windy weather made their intonation suffer, they marched the show brilliantly. The 270o rotation followed by two individual rotations to complement the dynamics a particular highlight.

They have also incorporated the (so far) lone member of the guard into the drill throughout the program and added equipment work and dance for the last half of the show. The remaining guard spots are still open.

Contact the Marion Cadets by phone at 740-382-3013 or email at for more information. The corps still did not perform the last minute of drill. Look for that to be added soon, perhaps by the time you read this article.

The tradition of an outstanding guard in the Lake Erie Regiment (14 B, 8 FP, 7 PP, 9 G, 2 DM) continued in the corps’ 2004 competitive debut. The guard danced and used equipment very effectively throughout the performance. During the opening, they handily demonstrating the unique properties of six-foot-tall fire-engine-red boards for both spinning and angle work, easily managing a series of equipment changes, and ending the performance with big red flags.

The guard score reflected their excellence, with a raw 10 point advantage over the Marion Cadets guard. It translated to an additional 5 points to the visual caption when the scores were averaged, more than enough to account for the 4.5 point advantage Lake Erie Regiment had over Marion Cadets in total Visual.

The guard also contributed to a 0.6-point advantage in GE Visual, enough to bring the corps to within 0.35 of their Division III rival. The musicians demonstrated their versatility by handling a variety of step rates for a 9/8 section. The audience rewarded the western Pennsylvania corps with a sincere round of applause.

Before the contest proper, the Plymouth Fife and Drum Corps entertained the audience with an appropriately old-fashioned marching and maneuvering show featuring arrangements of sea chanteys and Revolutionary War era standards. The crowd cheered as the historic unit from the nearby town passed in review, hesitation stepping off the field.