On The Road With Cozy

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Our man out there on the streets, living the drum corps life, as we all wish we could, has found his way to California! Cozy Baker, a transplanted Southerner (ya’all know what I mean) has filed his latest report on how DCA 2006 is moving along. Gotta love this guy’s experience! I sit home at my computer, pulling together the next DCA yearbook, and this fellow is living the dream. I’m jealous!

It really is all about here and there, he and she. Well, we’ve got him!


Dover to Atlanta to LAX to S.D. to LMS L.A. to DCI shows in 8 days

by Cozy Baker

With blogged senses, head still in another time zone, I’m vaguely recalling I survived a loooong bus ride from Atlanta on June 29 to Dover, NJ…well, to East Stroudsburg University first, the CorpsVets housing and practice site. I knew the campus was truly drum corps when we passed Hawthorne St. However, I suspected the drivers were lost, yet again, when our buses turned onto Normal Ave. The dorm rooms were comfy, alas, sans snore buffers, and the food was terrific. Tom Colgan, my roomie was sawing zzzzzs as loud as his entire ’67-’68 Brigs horn line. I told the basketball camp kids at ESU that we were an Atlanta basketball team of 105 plus coaches after overhearing one kid to another saying, "I don’t know. I think they’re some kind of band." This morning I’m chillin’ in San Diego, in quaint Hillcrest, trying to recall how I got here way yonder from the smell of those luscious Jersey sandwiches at Sky’s home show. Other CorpsVets members called our trip the bus trip from (that censored word). Having been on truly hellacious trips, I simply refer to it as the trip from purgatory, with inconvenient side trips, getting separated and a blown tire on bus #2. Dave Medeiros, old Rhode Island Matadors, reported that the university had lined the field for us, a mere 10 steps from the front door of our dorm. Cooler weather was imported in to spoil us, and ESU even set up shade trees for the horn arc, battery, pit, etc. I tried to cram a couple of trees into the bus bay to haul back to Georgia. When they built the school where the CorpsVets rehearse, some lunk with a bulldozer cleared out several acres of trees. Deer stand on the outskirts of the woods, sniff us out, then dart back into the cool, cool shade.

Dover was classic drum corps

Dover, NJ: The contest report is coming out in DCWorld, http://www.drumcorpsworld.com, page front, mailed yesterday, Thursday. It was a touching moment to hear Fran Haring announce the entry of his own corps, the Sunrisers. I loved their show and wish Sun a terrific year. My view wasn’t the best. The forms look fine from my top row, a mere 20 feet up.

Nestled into the drill along with the CorpsVets, I fought to ignore the food smells, but I did enjoy the looks on the Fan$ faces when the Atlanta corps laid into the opening fanfare of "Luck Be a Lady" with the sun setting behind Fran’s Hawaiian shirt. Go catch the astonishing solos by Hunter Moss, Bill Wear, Jonathan Thomas, Jerald Sheets, Andrew Brown et al. Andrew Brown, mellophone soloist (marched Spirit and Court of Honor), and Jerald Sheets, sop soloist, LSU alumnus, join together after their solos for a rhythmic "Copa" duet. Any corps would be proud to display such talent. Congratulations to the Bushwackers and Caballeros, to everyone. It was a highlight of the trip for the CorpsVets to walk off with the Most Entertaining award. Vince Bruni beamed, I’m sure.

Hunter Moss, CorpsVets sop soloist, while clutching the large entertainment trophy back at the corps buses, shared, "This is one of my best nights in drum corps!" Considering Moss marched back in the Freddy Martin and Jim Ott days of Spirit of Atlanta and as a charter member of the CorpsVets, that’s quite a statement.

From the near front, I viewed the Caballeros. Wow! I’m delighted that the Jim Costello troupe mummified the Egyptian show for the toreador mood. I counted more solos, duets and ensembles than the Cabs have championships. Aught six, the 60th for Hawthorne, will be remembered as one of the Cabs’ finest. Key Poulan composition and arrangements! Impressive.

Tom Colgan, CorpsVets business manager, driving by the Cabs, yelled at a few of his pals, "You guys can save some time and energy. Just play my ‘84 CD of Hawthorne over the PA." A Cab strolled over and replied, "‘84 was a great year (DCA Champs) and I was in it!"

Carolina Gold: "What Is Hip" sums up the Gold show, a tribute to Tower of Power. Fine, they were tuckered from a tiring parade that same day, but they put on a rock-solid show. Gold will be a hit in Rochester, Rachacha. It was a pleasure to see Gold yet again at the Havre de Grace, MD, parade. Alas, again no time to chat.

Carolina Gold might have missed a parade or two on the way home but no more than that. Elizabeth, sop: Please post and tell us all about Dover and paradessss.

The Connecticut Hurricanes were super! The clean horn line was blending well with the entire package of percussion and guard. I asked about John "Cupcakes" Curran. What’s he up to nowadays?

I watched the Hurcs after chatting briefly with Carl Ruocco, Skyliner Alumni drum major, former Crossmen director. Standing beside Ruocco, seeing Bucky Swan, I realized how silver my hair has recently turned. I originally blamed the start of salt ‘n pepper on flying. Now, I truly realized it’s due to women. Drum corps keeps us young!

The Bushwackers and the Caballeros had a tight battle. Brass arranger Dennis Argul and the entire brass staff have turned out yet another fine book and clean execution. Bush doesn’t have a weak unit: solid horns, intense percussion and a lovely talented guard.

Congratulations to the Cabs’ percussion for taking top Dover honors! Congrats to Bush for your guard and horns! Thanks to Hurcs for your expert honor guard and trophy!

The battle for the top with Bucs, Empire, Cabs, Minnesota Brass, et al. will be a momentous. Buy those tickets now for DCA Rochester, www.dcacorps.org.

I predicted a few days after last Labor Day weekend that Bush would do well in aught six. I was literally in the middle of the trooping the stands incident. ‘Nuff said. Let’s just say it will make a wonderful trivia question later.

Sky wowed us with their entertaining show. "Bohemian Rhapsody," not exactly Sky’s style, sure fit them just fine.

Carl Ruocco led the Sky Alumni onto the field from way back, cadenced in by 14 snares and entourage. The look on the youngsters’ faces, the culture shock of them encountering history reenacted, made the whole trip worthwhile.

Meanwhile, Vic Kulinski, Jr., Liz Duguay and the Bridgemen were doing the Buglers’ Hall of Fame show in Bridgeport, CT. How’d it go? Congratulations to Al Chez, Jeff Kievit, et al. for your inductions! Fran is orgasmic as emcee!

Fran Haring is one of the finest impromptu emcees in the business. He’d make an announcement, flip off the mike, chat with me a bit, then turn the mike right back on in mid-sentence to move along. I had to listen for the PA sometimes to double-check if our conversation had ended and Fran was now working the audience.

Meanwhile, the Vince Bruni home show, hosted by the Empire Statesmen, must have been another memorable contest on the same night. The Reading Buccaneers nipped Empire and topped 80. The Syracuse Brigadiers may call this a down year for them, understandably so when one experiences a four-peat, but many would trade places. I’m anxious to catch the shows of the Rochester Crusaders and White Sabers.

The parades – Thanks to Brad Hood, CorpsVets assistant director, I was turned loose to hoist the colors with an honor guard, holstering my soprano, in the Havre de Grace, MD, parade. With five fellas from the guard and one cozy addition, we did our patriotic duty, marching one of the finest A-teams I’ve ever been part of in a parade. The funky off-beat cadence was no problem for this A-team. Thanks to Jim, Brandon, Will, Jason and Tad for your enthusiasm and patriotism. Brad and Suzanne Hood’s kids, Elizabeth and Alex, walked the extra mile with the banner, doing a wonderful job.

The ambiance of this parade reminds me so much of Racine, WI, parades with the proximity to the Chesapeake Bay compared to Lake Michigan and the architecture of the homes. However, over 100,000 typically view parades in Racine, larger than the huge crowd in Havre de Grace.

Deja Vu! I felt like I was back at a recent DCA Championship in, yes, Scranton, fixing a state flag staged right of the American flag while at the Havre de Grace parade. A local Marine Reserve unit was about to march into the parade dishonoring the flag. We got into a little bit of a tiff, but I held my ground. Jeesh, folks!

At a small parade in Loganville, GA, the local ancient American Legion bus was transporting us. The accelerator kinda flopped off pulling out of the parking lot…No big deal. We all felt at home after our Dover trip.

At a parade in Atlanta, we assembled another honor guard of six, including Jessie Green, sop Phyllis’ daughter, James Dawson, pit, Whitney King, pit, Katie Elmenthaler, sop, et al. Complete with authentic M-1s, the honor guard did a fine job. We had one of the finest places in the entire parade to hear the parade music just keep getting better with each parade. Jerald Sheets, Andrew Brown, Charlie et al. wore themselves out doing the solos in "Copa."

Several local high school bands were having a battle of the bands before the parade. The CorpsVets casually watched the duels, didn’t join in, saving chops…When the G bugles and corps drums commenced firing we just blew ‘em away. ‘Twas fun.

I want to join Gold on their next parade caravan. They are some parading kinda fools. They remind me of Bayou City Blues who used to travel from the Houston, TX, area and make lots of bucks doing parades and DCMidwest shows in the 90s.

Relaxing with many other corps members at a pool party, I went into the computer room to work on this column…Big Ken was slumbering there. I decided to wait.

Designers end up in Tar Pits

Stepping out of Union Station in Los Angeles, I stepped across to the square fronting Olivera Street, espanol for, "First turista trap with high-priced margaritas in L.A.," a few sabre tosses from the La Brea Tar Pits where corpsdom tosses excessively arrogant designers and judges. The Mexican band was as out of tune as oboes and harps on a football field, but I loved the chance to chill before revving up for more drum corps.

Riding down on Amtrack to San Diego, the conductor warned that bicyclists, when they see luggage in the bike rack area, have often set said luggage off the train and left it. I looked out the window at the Mistress Kelli wannabes and thought, these folks have marched corps and worked the equipment trucks.

My cousin’s boyfriend is a gaffer for the movie industry, having worked lighting for some notable projects. He gave me a tour where I saw room after room that were in no sequence; i.e., 1940s telephone on an office desk ("Hot set! Do not remove anything!"), to a modern kitchen, etc. My tour guide explained that the reason the USMC flag fronts the lot is that the Marines train there on a movie set that statisticianhas saved many lives in Iraq. Spotting Marines in desert camouflage, I double-checked, "So, the buccaneers, bushwhackers and gangsters I see are fake, but the Marines are real?" Affirmative. He said that one time he was standing ready to use a toilet, when someone said, "Uh, you know that’s only a set?" He sounded like some corps folks I know when he quickly said, "I knew that."

Last night I had a wonderful meal at a Gaslamp District fancy restaurant, prepared by my chef cousin at Visions on Sixth Ave, all while talking on the phone with new and old California drum corps pals. DCP is such a fantastic venue. Putting out the word I needed travel info from Union Station to the LMS L.A. concert, I received an overload of data and two offers for a ride. Corps folks are my kinda people! I can’t wait to meet Sara Julian, Bob Briggs, Thom Willett, members of River City Regiment, the Kingsmen Alumni, etc. I will link up later today with these fine folks and the Renegades. I got a good night’s sleep, figuring sleep will be lacking this weekend.

LMS L.A. margarita and two DCI contest chasers, please!

LMS in Los Angeles promises to be even bigger than LMS 7 last April 30. Mac McEntire, Renegades viz guru, just called me a moment ago rubbing it in that he and JoEllen McEntire and Jim McFarland, Renegades brass cap head, and Nanci McFarland, sop, are strolling along the beach west of Torrance. Invited to play, I’ll don black yet again for this evil event. I can’t wait to have the Kingsmen Alumni rip my face off!!! In between the armadillo race, the caracara coveys released from drum cases, and the comedians, I hear they have drum corps, minicorps ‘n Reneguard at LMS L.A.

Two DCI contests follow on July 8 – 9, at Mystikal’s show and in Bellflower, CA, the first time that three California all-age corps have ever met, at least in my memory. Ken Mason and others have wondered from the Eastern Seaboard about the rumblings out here between the Renegades and the upstart River City Regiment. Now, we throw in big DM Bob Briggs, another DM, Mike, Thom Willett, et al. from SoCal Dream, and we have a cock fight tremoring amongst these Left Coast dudes ‘n dudettes, or should we say cocks and cockettes in this instance? Like some Internet smiley icon, I’ll be the cheap-sunglasses smiley hiding behind the brick wall, taking in this gunfight. The Top Guns of the Renegades vs. the Sacramento TOP RCR vs. the kewel alpha state SoCal Dream…

…Sleep, I need sleep…

Folks on DCP have stated their opinions on design, drill and music complexity, etc. DCA and DCP represent some of the finest aspects of our wonderful activity. Along with DCI, we show the world some of the finest entertainment in the world. Corpsdom, our friends, our bonds, traditions, history, and avant-garde innovations are as real as those Marines on a movie lot. Semper Fi!

Posted by on Friday, July 7th, 2006. Filed under DCA ... All-Age, All-Good!.