Quadruple Duty In Rochester

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Ah, Rochester . . . competing against our friends in this, DCA’s most important weekend, yet joining together to do battle with Mother Nature! As you have been reading in the Forums, this year’s DCA Championship Weekend was, shall we say, challenging?

Looking back, the only real trouble spot was Saturday’s visit by almost Hurricane Ernesto. Even Ernie wanted to be at DCA this year. He made a once every fifty year visit! Local residents said “ we never get this stuff, it always turns East before upstate.”

Everyone, performers, organizers, stadium workers, etc. scrambled around to make everything work as good as possible. That required each of us to take on roles no one could have anticipated. Saturday’s battle even carried over to effect our Sunday performances. We were all thrown out of synch. But, it’s over, we have our Champions, and it was confirmed, despite the unusual weather, Rochester is a pretty great place to be over Labor Day Weekend.

So much about DCA concerns things other than on field performance conditions. This is our class reunion, our single most important place to be. None of that was damaged.

Cozy Baker filed this latest report. Here was someone who played the role of performer, announcer, reporter, photographer, and probably more. Let’s hear his take on DCA 2006.

Cozy’s DCA Planet

by Cozy Baker

DCA snippets: Rachacha Shuffle, Star United, marching in monsoon messy glasses, photos?

The alto saxes are dancing like crazed electric slide primal screamers. Marching band season, working with the University of Cincinnati band, has surreally replaced the drum corps summer. I’ve wrapped up a band camp working with UC Director Dr. Terren Frenz, the founder/director of the DCAssociates Ohio Brass Factory, Nick Angelis, assistant director and percussion caption head who recently has worked Spirit then Colts, Tammy Fallon, guard caption head whose father and mother are legendary in corps, Steve “Hairbear” Masters, DCA Showmanship winner in ’90 and ’91 with Steel City Ambassadors and a champ with the ’96 Westshoremen, Judd, formerly of Star and Blast! on percussion, Dave Martin, valued assistant director, and Matt Suddendorf, musical dynamo. We have an away game versus Ohio State this Saturday with 110,000 fan$, mostly screaming against us. How did Labor Day weekend come and downpour so fast?

My notes to type yesterday’s journalism stacked up 8” high. No, I didn’t have voluminous notes; rather, I had soggy Ernesto drenched colored ink run crumpled pages.

The DCA Championships in Rochester, NY, was a blur. What all happened?

Early on, I was saddened to find out that super fan$ Bob and Annie Sullivan had made it from Atlanta to North Carolina, but had to turn back to take Annie to the emergency room. It was disappointing not seeing their glowing faces. Big Ken Huff, CorpsVets contra, was sitting alone at breakfast…I left him alone in his thoughts.

Steve Masters and I arrived the Wednesday before in Rochester and found no drum corps folks in the Empire Statesmen hangout, Bathtub Billy’s. We went to the Rochester Airport late to pick up John and Tammy Hoekstra, sop and pit in the CorpsVets. I spotted a ProTec soprano case and Bill Howard, SoCal Dream sop, woke up from his airport sofa and began chatting. Howard was pumped to be at his first DCA Championships.

Shuffle off to Buffalo…uh, Rachacha

Howard revealed, “My son and I had a bet. If he’d go out for drum major in the Blue Devils, I’d do senior corps. My son was the backfield drum major for the Blue Devils this summer, and here I am.”

Howard is what makes corpsdom special. I’m not sure who is more proud – Howard of his son being in the Blue Devils as a DM or how much his son appreciates what his dad is doing, sleeping on a Rochester Airport couch…uh, playing soprano in Dream.

Who’s on first?

Mike Plachta, Dream sop, formerly in the Guelph Royalaires, had planned to meet up at the airport. The conversation went something like, “Where are you?” “I’m out front of the airport.” “Well, so am I.”…”Which airport?” “Rochester.” “What?! I’m at the Buffalo Airport!” Fortunately, Dream marched and played better than establishing logistics.

The Doubletree Hotel was paradise for the Atlanta CorpsVets, Renegades and Preston Scout House. Jim McFarland, Renegades brass caption head, was one of the first corps folks I ran into in the hotel…Other than a quick glimpse of McFarland in the VIP suites area at PAETEC Park, I never saw him again. Too bad. I needed my Zen fix.

The Doubletree became a beehive when the CorpsVets and Renegades buses rolled in that Thursday afternoon. Jeff Wright, Leif Marwede, et al. wasted no time putting the CorpsVets into parking lot practice. It felt great to play again after hours of buzzing my mouthpiece while driving. It was a needed rehearsal. Thanks, Jeff Wright!

I did keep running into Mac and JoEllen McEntire. Mac is the visuals cap head for the Renegades. It appears he and I run in the same circles, as does Tom Colgan, CorpsVets biz manager. The CorpsVets and Renegades bonded even more in the huge lobby of the Doubletree and in party rooms.

I was so mesmerized seeing Rhonda, Renegades cg, once again that I forgot to take photos. Same goes for encounters with Robin, biz manager, Romanian Sara Nash, pit, Liza Barker and other Renegades.

Geoff Jones, DCP staff and Renegades bari, had Party Room Central, where action took place until…well, after midnight. There, I got to know my own CorpsVets members better, Tony Diez, snare, and many of the Renegades. Drum corps is special getting to visit with Jerry Stewart, Renegades center snare, Tiffany of the cg, Tom Colgan, CorpsVets biz manager, and many more.

All your Dreams and Renegades in one mystical Nebraska basket

Also known as the Burger King Parking Lot Session

It made good business sense – SoCal Dream and the Renegades shared Mystikal’s equipment truck to transport gear to Rachacha. The driver left early but found the going uphill in Nebraska. Long story super short: He made it in late. Meanwhile, the CorpsVets loaned contras to the Renegades Minicorps to rehearse. Upon the Mystikal truck’s arrival, the Burger King parking lot behind the Doubletree Hotel served well as the rehearsal site at 2 AM after Rich Duarte grudgingly hauled his drum set cases all the way. Star United drove by in a large van and caught the end of the parking lot session.

Wait, isn’t Rich Duarte the famous Renegades sop soloist? Yep, one and the same. The man also plays kit, quite well, I might add.

My jeans are stuffed with folded notes, recaps and business cards from folks like David Rice, DCWorld photographer, Lee Rudnicki, attorney at law, Tom Walsh, founder of the Atlanta CorpsVets and now in Caballeros Alumni, David Martin, Hitmen director, Vinnie Ciesielski, Music City Legend brass caption head and soloist….

Party time: I&EMC

To think I originally opposed Individual & Ensemble/Minicorps competition being moved to Friday night. I&EMC has turned into the Times Square of corpsdom. Fred Windish, DCA marketing director, estimates 3,000 were at the minicorps venue, 1,500 in the Clarion Hotel venues and about 500 outside for other events. It’s possible that 5,000 people attended the finest I&EMC ever.

Frank “Ironlips” Dorritie, former Sunrisers sop soloist, beat out John “Grass” Urspruch, Skyliners Alumni, for soprano bragging rights in the venue I announced. James Orser, Empire mello, nipped Andrew Brown, Corpsvets, et al. The Hitmen, led by David Martin, took the brass ensemble over Prime Time Brass and others. Catching sight of John Donovan, DCP owner, I had JohnD stand for his 15 seconds of fame. Bob Cardeneo, DCA chief brass judge and owner of Cruise One Travel Agency with his wife, Cathy, was prevalent at numerous brass venues, the Alumni Spectacular, and, of course, Prelims and Finals.

CorpsVets Chorus and Star United take titles

The CorpsVets Chorus graciously accepted this second tenor into their ranks. Having to announce a venue and wear hats for DCA, DCW and DCP, my plan was to…Oops! Forgetting my CorpsVets member T-shirt, I had to race from the Convention Center, through the Clarion to the parking garage, retrieve my shirt, then race back with lots of people saying, “Hey, Cozy!”…“Cozy, I have a question.”…I made it back to see the CV Chorus already on the stage. Checking in with Paul Chaffee, announcer, Chaffee let me join in for the second song. I am the only person in I&EMC history to win half of a medal.

What has minicorps come to when the Erie Thunderbirds, winners of Minicorps at least four times, come in sixth place? Last year’s champs, Minne Brass, earned fourth. Mass Brass, Ghost Riders, et al. had phenomenal performances but didn’t win. The Renegades had an exceptional night but came out fractured fractionally. From parts unknown, well, Bloomington, sorta, Star United took the entire Minicorps enchilada. I was contacted by Star United back in the spring with a few basic questions…Now, Star United is not only the reigning champs, SU has taken minicorps into a whole new realm of perfection.

Chris Rutt, Star United mello, is an old pal of mine. I toured the last month of the ’96 season with The Cadets. Rutt was my best source for unique quotes that summer. Lo and behold, I spotted him this summer working under Jimmy Steele with the Crossmen. Then, Rutt pops up again as part of the winning Star United.

Why do we do drum corps? – So that we can practice in the rain. Back to work that Saturday morning, my view was through rain-tainted glasses as Ernesto was rolling in. After a few hours of basics, drill and warm-up, we returned to the hotel to clean up, dry ourselves and eat a nourishing meal. Even with the weather report, none of us, performers or fan$, truly knew what was ahead.

Rain, no yard lines, drenched, mud, COLD!

Forget DCA Arnold, MD, July 22. Ernesto gave a new meaning to sheets of rain. Every corps suffered, making it an even playing field as it were. Even under the Big Top white tent, a planned reprieve before each corps competed, the rain and wind got to us. Hardy fan$ stuck it out in the stands. They are the true champs in my book!!

Daniel Sheets, CorpsVets sop, was fighting to keep his Aussie on as we marched from the end zone. After our casino card games, we collectively thought, Wow! No yard lines, no hashes. Marching like old-style drum corps, we did a remarkable job of prevailing. When I ended the opener of “Luck Be a Lady,” I spied the 30 yard line marker afar, and saw that I was in my dot, one step outside an imaginary 30 yard line. 7-1/2 steps behind the front hash? Who knows? I was in the form, three steps behind Kirby, splitting his back.

All of the corps, not just the CorpsVets, did a fantastic job of adjusting to the rotten conditions. Near the end of our show, I took my hat off, but accidentally sent my glasses flying and bouncing on the soggy turf. I placed them inside my Aussie and went on playing. After a rousing closer, ignoring the elements, we trudged through the pig sty for photos. I never got to order mine. There was chaos. There was no apparent table to order pics. Our Vegas “bride,” Shannon Wright, in her spaghetti string dress, darted away for a coat after one quick photo, too cold to pose for more. I understand the Racine Kilties never even got photos taken. The Kilties know how the routine goes, but Ernesto wreaked its havoc.

Finally, my career has taken me loftily to the VIP suites

I’d been forewarned that the VIP suites were not complete. Windish was right on – Other than hardened concrete to walk on on the second level, the remaining amenities: Folding tables and chairs and wind and rain funneling through the open framing (sans doors and windows) which increased the wind speed in the Venturi Tube effect. (Google Wright Brothers, December 12, 1903, for more on vortex, lift and speeding up the wind.) Why did they even bother with security to check proper IDs? It was the worst place in the stadium. Several times, I made trips to the men’s restroom to warm up as the toilets were the warmest place in the stadium.

Kevin Gamin, DCP Editor, John Donovan, publisher, were running the DCP sites. Todd Tanji, Tom Peashey, myself and others were contributing to the Live Updates. Steve Vickers, DCW publisher, William Aldrich-Thorpe, DCW reporter, Glen Johnson, DCA secretary/tabulator, Gil Silva, DCA president, Larry Hershman, DCA VP, Red Corso and Dan Rippon, treasurer and assistant, et al. were braced against the deluge. Jeff DeMello, Renegades president and video guru, and Francesca DeMello, Renegades Minicorps sop and DCW photographer, were upbeat despite the weather. Fred Windish and Dick Eschenmann, DCA business manager, were scurrying about, busy as Borgs.

The scores? The placements? As bad as Ernesto was clobbering us, we still cared…a lot. Not much changed in the upper spots. The meshing of Midwestern, Southern and Left Coast corps had a few surprises as they competed against Northeastern stalwarts. The treasured 10th place was finally resolved. The adored Kilties were the unlucky 11th place corps. Carolina Gold was in the Finals…

…Like an old Saturday movie matinee, I’m going to leave the chase at the edge of the cliff, and invite readers to check back for the next column which will have Finals, partying and wrap up comments. Until then, enjoy the off-season…Arbans, Clarke, Caruso, blues scales for me.

Posted by on Thursday, September 14th, 2006. Filed under DCA ... All-Age, All-Good!.