Cozy’s Corpsdom – Drum Corps is in my Jeans

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"Remember that nobody will ever get ahead of you as long as he is kicking you in the seat of the pants." ~ Walter Winchell (1897 – 1972), newspaper columnist of "On Broadway"

Yesterday, I yanked the folded recap from DCAssociates Rockmart, GA, August 5, out of my pocket. The stats had faded, fizzled in importance, but the scribbled quotes by Gulf Coast Sound members, I treasure. A frazzled dot book is ready to go back into the pocket. Pulling out my fattened wallet, I’ve cleared it of trip receipts and li’l scraps of phone numbers have been added to my cell…Hmm, all drum corps folks, no hot babes wanting to get into my Wranglers. Currently, ’tis a currency thin billfold I possess.

My memory chip, full of rulebook, judging sheets and recent journalism, often hangs around my neck. My trumpet and soprano bugle are poised near the keyboard…I should run through valves more than I type "wysiwyg." I could play much better if I focused more, maybe even talk to Dr. Chip Crotts, Spirit brass caption head and Jax State University faculty; Dr. Ramon Vasquez, Spirit staff and Auburn University faculty; Jerome Callet, my old teacher; go back to the Jamey Aebersold jazz camps; or my bud’ Hunter Moss, CorpsVets sop soloist; about improving, but this dang Royal typewriter hypnotizes me.

California dudes: Donovan and Dorritie

John Donovan, the owner of DCPlanet, reeled me in during my July California trek with the concept of expanding scribed corpsdom onto DCP, beyond the current writings for the DCA/DCP partnership and my DCWorld duties. The full moon as we sat outside a locked Bellflower, CA, pressbox and all those Caribbean pirate "July 7" billboards worked their voodoo on me. My agent, Cruiser Maguire, dickered with JohnD’s team of devilish attorneys for a multi-year deal, and…if you swallow that, I’m worried about what gene pool you scrub your bibbers in.

"Buy the ticket; take the ride." ~ Hunter S. Thompson (1937 – 2005)
I’d call this the motto of doing drum corps.

Frank "Ironlips" Dorritie, Bugler and World DC Hall of Fames, soprano con los cajones grandes at sunrise, displaced from the East Coast, was the first to apply the term "Gonzo" to me. I don’t look a thing like that berserk phallic Muppet, but Dorritie likens me to Hunter S. Thompson. Why? He was an alcohol loving druggie who contributed to "Rolling Stone" when the mood struck. My circle of corps vets includes Hunter "No Ego" Moss, no Thompsons other than Jeremy. Thanks, Dorritie, but I couldn’t carry Thompson’s "Rolling Stone," much less write like the only RS contributor who never wrote a music review.

"Gonzo" is defined as "subjective journalism characterized by exaggerated rhetorical style." Digging deeper as any journalist should, I found:

  • "Crazy, madcap, unwieldy, or anarchistic."
  • "A perticular (sic) style of journalism used most famously by writer Hunter S. Thompson in the 60s and 70s, in which the journalist becomes a part of the action. A natural extension of Tom Wolfe’s "New Journalism," based upon the idea that fiction and journalism are both a means to the same end."
  • "A blue character on the Muppets with a very phallic nose."
  • "A style of first-person pornography, from the view of the camera operator."

Personally, I prefer: "With total commitment, total concentration, and a mad sort of panache." (Thompson’s original sense.)

I do resemble Thompson’s quote: "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro."

Johnny Depp will never do a movie about my life as he’s done and is currently portraying again for Thompson. Heck, Bill Murray played Thompson in a film. My luck, I’ll end up with Jeff Ream mentioning me a few times each year as he posts ad nauseum.

Increased scribing means more opportunity to pique, which I do try to avoid…usually.

Photo Credit: Vera Hørven

A DCPer once commented on my music expertise, my background. I replied that I indeed had a varied musical exposure. A guy from a White Trash neighborhood who once played kit behind chicken wire in an Eastern Kaintuck’ tavern truly, I reckon, has a varied musical silhouette. I’ve seen Specks where the only requirement to get a PBR beer was to be able to reach the bar top to deposit a buck. Years later, I hung around a classic Rochester corps bar where authentic Canadian beer; i.e., higher alcoholic percentage, was served if you knew the bartender. My fave bar is DeMark’s in Racine and post bars. One is more popular at DeMark’s if you can sing raunchy medleys. It helps to stroll in with JC Caspers, Kilties mellow mello.

Donny Allen cured my vibrato. I use vibrato in my journalism, not my ensemble horn.

I can handle Cuban espresso as well as an Armenian gulps spices. Wired on caffeine, I crank out my diatribes.

I have written for the International Trumpet Guild Journal. On my first day, at the annual conference, the editor made a huge scene out of ridiculing me for using a common writing style. I informed him, "You’ve spent five minutes oscillating the air but communicating zilch." – Picked up my gig bag and backpack and sashayed out the door. We "made up" and I ended up being posted online and in the ITG Journal.

Sally Forth is the name of a small Cessna I used for butt-callousing cross-countries; e.g., Cowtown, TX, to Pungent Noise, WA. That’s been my theme in corpsdom and life. I love to sally forth into adventure, discovery. Bill McGrath, Sr., and I used to trade hangar tales about his days of flying to teach the Yankee Rebels. Gawd, how I miss that man. I call Irene McGrath to reminisce.

Vince Bruni, Mr. Entertainment and founder of the Empire Statesmen, former Hilton and Rochester Crusaders director, used to host me in his home. I’d ride with him to the Bingo Palace, work in the office, and learned so much about his love for corps. I respect how Dave Bruni wears the Empire top hat now.

Opening my own scuba store, I was a safety team leader to develop the new dive table limits and have scubaed off most of the worthwhile Caribbean isles, also coral reefs from Puget Sound to Fijis, Tahiti, Great Barrier Reef, North Coral Sea and Possum Kingdom Lake. I have helped to train law enforcement divers and contracted with police departments.

My point: I put my heart and soul into my interests. When I persevered through an old chops injury, I came back to my horn.

Enough "gonzolidating" about moi.

Maynard Ferguson, the trumpeting air guru, dies in ‘CA’

Last night, late naturally, I finished the "Gonzo" intro of myself. Signing online this morning, coffee in hand to quill about anyone but me, our remarkable activity, I find a DCP post from Gary Matczak that Maynard Ferguson, virtually the last famous high-note trumpeter, has died in Canada, well, Ventura, CA. Forget the "CAs;" MF can’t be replaced, only cherished. In a few hours Matczak’s thread has mushroomed into five pages. August 23 and 24 are sad days. Maynard, one of my heroes, dies the same day I begin DCP Gonzo reporting, and I hear the news the same day I complete and submit…Well, kinda blank below this line…Off I go to talk about YOU:

Pepe People’s Choice award

I just got off the phone with Fred Windish, DCA marketing, later John Donovan, DCP potentate, and Steve Vickers, DCW publisher. The voting box for the Pepe Notaro People’s Choice awards will be at the joint DCP/DCWorld booth in Rochester. Buy your DCA program, pull the ballot from near the center and write your favorite Prelims corps, then your fave three alumni corps during the Alumni Spectacular. Drop by the DCP/DCW booth, deposit your vote, pick up a free copy of the latest DCW and possibly meet some of the DCW and DCP staffs. Subscribe at

The Pepe People’s Choice award ballot is the finest centerfold to pull out since Hugh Hefner printed the intitial "Playboy" out of his garage, featuring Marilyn Monroe in 1953.

Madison will make laps extinct in aught seven

The Madison BoD is meeting while I complete this column. Steve Vickers said to watch for an announcement…soon. Madison will continue to be in capable hands. Many Madison alumni have stepped forward. I look for the Scouts to be a blast for fan$ next year.

Royal Airs BoD also meeting August 24

Scott Jameson, president of Royal Airs Alumni, has news: "Thanks for the good wishes. I don’t have an official release for you just yet as we have our first meeting of the new BOD tonight. But we ain’t dead yet! We had our problems, and while there were some nasty rumors flying, there were no financial improprieties (some people just can’t read a financial statement); so naturally, nobody went to jail over it (in fact Tim has been re-elected as Treasurer and doesn’t have to worry about it conflicting with a work release program), and while we did discuss closing the doors, the fire still burns.

"When we suspended operations (suspend did not mean HALT) earlier this year, we promised our members a new BOD election in August. We just held those elections last Saturday and the results were: Scott Jameson is the new BOD President, Tim Rothenberger was reelected to Treasurer, and Christa Carson is the new secretary. During our time off there were a number of members active in trying to set the stage for the Royal Airs to rebuild for 2007. We expect to get things rolling again after Labor Day with our regular Thursday night sectionals at the Villa Park VFW, and plan to start active sponsorship and recruitment campaigns at about the same time. We hope to attract some of the Madison Scout Alums that may have gotten that familiar itch again this summer, but don’t have time for a competitive performance schedule. So, for those who thought they blew their chance to march with us because they waited too long, or found out they still love drum corps as much as we do, drop me an e-mail at scott [dot] jameson [at] us [dot] bosch [dot] com. Come help us rock the house again in 2007. We’ll have much more for you soon including a date for an open house later this fall that we encourage everyone to attend."

Bob Doran, recent Royal Airs and former Kilties, shared, "A new RA board has been elected and will begin searching for new staff for the 2007 season. I am riding my Harley to Rochester. Leaving Tuesday morning. I will take the ferry across Lake Michigan from Milwaukee to Muskegon, MI, then cross into Canada at Windsor, then take back roads to Rochester."

DCI 2006 was marvelous

My candidate for volunteer of the year is the guy who runs the Colts souvie booth by himself. I helped him load the last of his gear at the end of the DCI Atlanta Georgia Dome Regional after he’d hauled his souvies down a fearful ramp distance and enjoyed visiting again in Madison.

I saw Doug "Pooh Bear" Kenyon during DCI Quarters. Got my picture with Thu Powell, Renegades pit. Introduced Romanian Sara Nash, Renegades pit, to Bob and Annie Sullivan. Had a special few minutes with Pop Ott, Jim Ott’s dad. Visited with some Cincinnati Tradition pals at a banquet I was invited to at DCI Madison Saturday. Paul Collins and the Horn Doctor were making bets about tossing a mello out of the pressbox and who could repair it faster. Steve Auditore, DCI BoD, and Mike Boo, DCI scribe, were a pleasure to see. Francesca DeMello, DCW photog, stopped me on the Camp Randall Stadium field to show me the photos she’d just had taken with Al Chez, Dave Letterman trumpeter. I had just asked Chez the same day if he’d pose with DeMello. Jeff DeMello was busy shooting video. Thanks, Chris Nalls, Renegades exec. dir. and middies soloist, for taking the photo of Joey Madden, Madison Scouts mello, and I. I sat with Kit Rodgers, BD treasurer/CFO and Todd Tanji, BD president. Gail Schultz and I chatted at her busy BD souvie booth, sharing our admiration for Bob and Annie Sullivan. William Aldrich-Thorpe and I shared some DCW duties and Aldrich and I gave Hans Kloppert, DCW photog and Jubal tour director, a ride, an external drive, to Best Buy an external drive. It was so familiar to see CorpsVets folks like Dave Stollberg, Ken Huff, Jeff Wright, Brad Hood, et al.

Romanian Sara Nash – Renegades Pit
Photo Credit: CozyPhoneCam

Visiting Stefanie Kressaty and Uncle Z, someone said, "You’re Cozy?" Turned out it was B.J. Rambo, Renegades snare, former CorpsVets snare. Small corpsdom sphere.

JohnD had a beehive DCP entourage in Madison of Kevin and Rachel Gamin, Rich Kleinman, Krista Miller, Tristan Moody, Jami Mills, Doug "dugada" Peterson, Nicole Bratt, Kimela "Kimelabari" Hilleary and Ryan H. Turner, "The Voice of Southern California." Turner had one FranLOUD (This, like "corpsdom," should be a gonzo word) shirt on at Finals, making it difficult for me to type with shades on next to Turner in the UW pressbox.

The happiest fan$ at DCI Madison may have been the winners of DCP’s free DCI ticket giveaways – James Dawson and Delenor Benson. Dawson, CorpsVets pit, knew that Phantom Regiment performed their victory concert before Blue Devils did theirs at "The Tie" in ’96 Orlando, and Benson wrote the winning essay in the DCP Essay Contest in March. Their acheivements won each a pair of 50-yard line seats for Quarters, Semis and Finals. Jerald Sheets, CV sop soloist, and Delenor’s father accompanied the winners.

Thanks to all the DCI Madison Finals retreat corps for carrying the national colors!

We all hope the no. 5 bass for Bluuuuu is doing better from his cellulitis infection. Congratulations Bluecoats for a baby-tossing show.

Which night was more fun – DCI Finals, Semis with the Madison Scouts Alumni, or the Wednesday night concert with Capital Sound, Jubal, Madison Scouts and Madison Alumni?…Tough call.

Troopers need to ramble back out there onto the tour prairie.

VK will annoy judges again

Remember the Velvet Knights? Of course, we do. "Spaceballs," "Jaws," running around mimicking judges and other antics made us fall off our seats. Mayra Iraheta, secretary, VK Youth Arts Organization, , has been all over spreading the wonderful news that VK plans to begin rehearsals this fall. Troy Emmons, Kanstul craftsman, is actively involved. Joe Miller, spam [at] vkyao [dot] org, is assembling a staff. The staff deadline to apply is September 10. Iraheta, Emmons and I met for about an hour in Madison. If I weren’t barefoot here in Dixie, I’d love to carry a clipboard around judges…uh, in meetings to help. Jump in folks! This is special.

Iraheta shared, "Troy and I will be attending the DCI meetings at the end of September in Rosemont, IL. Our winter drumline is doing fantastic. Their website is and are also gearing up for the debut season in 2007. Our winter guard is doing great as well, gearing up for their 2007 season and their second showing at Dayton, OH for WGI Championships."

Iraheta continued, "Anyone that is willing to donate, please, ask them to do so, as we need to raise $80,000 to purchase our horns. Also, they can write me directly if anyone is interested in our Adopt-A-Horn program, which is in place now."

"Our Program/Staff Director, Joe "SPAM" Miller has gotten a great deal of responses for potential staff for the junior corps and will be finalizing the selection by the end of September. This is exciting!"

Gulf Coast Sound tour bus invaded by nosy reporter

John Reese, Gulf Coast Sound soprano, relaxed on his tour bus after the DCA Rockmart, GA, show, sharing, "My first year in DCA has been a very good experience, and I hope to keep doing it. This is my second year in drum corps. I marched Pioneer last year."

Everett Hinote (I rolled my eyes; he swore that is his name), contra [collective guffaws], bellowed, "This is my first drum corps experience. I loved it! My first competition! I couldn’t ask for a better corps to be in."

Josh Huntley, sop, added, "I marched GCS last year. It’s amazing how far we’ve come. I plan to keep doing it until I can’t do it anymore."

Tom Huntley, GCS lead sop, stated, "This is my ninth year in drum corps. We’ve really worked hard. Our main goal was to improve over last year. We were three points better than last year at (DCA) Prelims, and this was our first judged show. It’s the continuation of something special."

Huntley had marched with the executive director who is also a contra for the Atlanta CorpsVets, revealing, "I marched right next to Dave Stollberg for three years in the Geneseo (IL) Knights."

Nikki Hauck, GCS DM, reminisced, "I started with Gulf Coast Sound when it was just growing. How it’s grown is outstanding!"

Minne-Brass Minicorps display all-age talent at DCI Madison

Minne-Brass Minicorps, including Roger Grupp, Todd Tanji, both high brass; Sue Cosley, bari; Dennis Tischhauser, tuba; and Cynthia Hoines, bari, performed during the DCI Madison Championships near souvie alley directly in front of the DCW booth on Semis and Finals nights. They also wined and tuned the Friends of DCI banquet. Minne-Brass added guest artists Ray Vasquez and Andy Classen, just as if Minne-Brass needed more improv and screamer help. DCI’s Joe Courtney was policing the area, but he had a vacation as the fan$ were simply enjoying the finger-snapping music and comical introductions by Grupp and Tanji.

Andy Classen plays ‘Godfather’ horn with doctorate dude Ray Ramon

Grupp does solos that scream through his large mouthpiece. Tanji is a superb bebop man himself. Classen played some phenomenal improv solos. However, it’s his horn that is memorable. Classen, Director of Jazz Studies at Drake University, plays on a 70-year-old King trumpet that has more scrolled engraving in it than the donuts my step-daughter drove in parking lots while learning to drive. It is THE trumpet used by Jimmy Maxwell to record the famous ballad on the "Godfather" soundtrack and Classen brought it to Madison to share with the Blue Devils high brass, at the urging of old-friend Todd Tanji – BD’s BOD prez. Maxwell’s son is the president of Drake and Classen is the lucky caretaker of a historic trumpet. I got to play it. Fine horn. Grupp and others got their pictures taken with it and played it.

Who was that hip-hop ball cap backwards man wailing away along with Roger Grupp, Todd Tanji and Andy Classen? None other than doctorate dude, Dr. Ramon F. Vasquez, Auburn University faculty and Spirit staff, formerly with Minnesota Brass and Blue Stars. I had a nice chat with Dr. Ray at the DCW booth and had seen him in action at Spirit camps. Any guy who presented a clinic session entitled "The Benefits of Drum Corps on Trumpet Playing" at the 2005 International Trumpet Guild Conference held in Bangkok, Thailand is a hero on my clipboard. I need to get back to ITG and WGI. Should I add PASIC?

DCP is at its absolute finest when posters provide crucial directions info to liquor stores near hotels…Uh, I mean advice to take buses and cabs to PAETEC Park.

Christina "Mav" Mavroudis-Dempsey took the mug photo of me in the DCI Madison pressbox. Thanks, Mav!

Like hundreds of other DCA competitors and alumni, I need to woodshed my Kanstul sop and Callet trumpet, march some drill, do pushups ‘n sit-ups ‘n air exercises, "just do it" aerobics, prissy the bibbers, drill a Mad Hatter rabbit hole in the yard to hopefully find my own fuel source or go to the bank to get a wad of $$ for the next camp and trip to Rachacha, mow…Ciao. Hasta luego.

Say "Howdy!" Cheer corpsdom in Rachacha!

Publisher’s Note: Cozy’s Corpsdom features updates from the world of drum corps as only Cozy Baker can deliver ….. in his own unique style and presentation. A featured Drum Corps World reporter and contributing columnist for many years, Cozy travels the country as a competitive marching member, instructor, observer, and commentator on the state-of-the-activity. The opinions expressed in this column are strictly those of the author.

Posted by on Thursday, August 24th, 2006. Filed under Cozy's Corpsdom.