DCW On-Line: Douglasville-Alpharetta Review

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CorpsVets, Alliance nab two DCA Dixie shows

August 16-17, 2008 — Douglasville and Alpharetta, GA. . . The Atlanta CorpsVets continued their DCAssociates South dominance in Open Class, while Alliance flexed its muscles in Class A at the highly-anticipated two Atlanta shows. Dick Pronti flew in to experience Southern hospitality as chief judge. Vic Kulinski, Jr., was the proud papa at the two successful contests as the DCA South coordinator. Andrew Brown, CorpsVets, after relining some yard lines, played the National Anthem on mellophone with patriotic respect.

CorpsVets won before their home crowd providing “Simple Gifts” to all. With tranquility fluctuating with “Inferno” moments, the music echoed off the Appalachian Mountains as they finger out and dwindle in size into foothills from glacier erosion in north Georgia. The sopranos and mellos slid right with precision before all the brass kicked in more volume.

The pit, while horn players grieve around a wreath (left leaning against the stands for some reason in Alpharetta in a decision not to use it), playing a sorrowful dirge. Andrew Brown melloed sweetly with his heart-wrenching solo. A brass quintet, two sopranos, mello, bari and contra, harmonized a front porch ballad while some sipped fermented tea.

The Atlanta corps risked ensemble exposure while rollstepping music in motion. All the brass kicked it into gear and revved up the volume. The talented, strong color guard, including Chris Keys, Brandon, Brandon, Tad, Abbi, et al. surrounded the simple gifts with flourishing gold/purple silks while adorned in captivating gold costumes. Catch the CV guard in Rochester.

Rob “RJ” Scott owns the stage in Shenandoah. Showing how wide the Missouri is with his mello moment of longevity, Scott corked the spit valve and wowed the crowd. Scott turned it up in Alpharetta and played even more shimmeringly, sauntering through a Dixie rose garden thinking his musical ponderings aloud. Ignore the delicious food offerings in Paetec Park this Labor Day weekend to absorb the complex gifts of the CorpsVets’ closer.

CV closes with “Simple Gifts”,no, “Shenandoah”, well, both, like a rich coffee blend of the best ingredients at the same time, which will keep judges and fan$ buzzing. Also notice the nuances of the company front that spins a Southern tale in trios. Allen Armstrong, Spirit vet, has been an excellent staff addition and it shows in the closer.

Music City Legend knocked on the door of the CorpsVets’ Open Class claims with brass knockers. While many fan$ dropped jaws at the power of Pit Brass Vinnie Ciesielski, B-flat high brass and Joe Murphy, contra gawd, do yourself a favor in Rachacha and concentrate on the confident, skilled horn line marching. The baritone line would reverberate the price tag right off Minnie Pearl’s Sunday church hat with change left over. Laurie Ford was superb in her mello moments as was “Doc Willard”, Decatur, AL.

DCA is about entertainment! Chief Brass Judge Bob Carnaneo assured me in Hendersonville, TN, and MCL delivers, actually overflows the brimming cup of GE. Like his LOUD Mouthpiece biz, Murphy rocks a contra like a piccolo bugle, trilling cirrus clouds — buy the legendary souvie: “Be like Joe.”

Like a smooth Tennessee bourbon, the color guard blends the moments of jazz, Latin and rock. The battery, fiery haired, crab stepping with a hulk of talent. These are the Real McCoys, especially when the Real Scott jumps into the drum line for Rochester after his blooming at the DCI Championships with the Cavaliers Alumni.

Scott Rhodes, shared at rehearsal, “Since Scott wrote the drum book, I figure he can handle it. Besides, he’s the 2006 DCA snare champ.” MCL will also do their August routine of adding seven strong brass members, like Lindsey Murphy, bari, a gaggle of other Spirit tanned and ready brass, Madison mello, et cetera.

Gossip aside, back to the show review, digression dampened — The baris sound like a swing band trombone section on steroids in the rockin’ closer. Jonathan Thomas, CorpsVets bari soloist vet, DCA bari I&E champ, exclaimed vociferously and he ought to know.

Nadia Williams, CorpsVets cg vet, stated, “The dance features were very well done and apropos, and kept a continuous love story throughout”.

In Alpharetta, I figured out Music City’s theme was “In Pursuit of Love”, when I thought it was the pursuit of GE on power bars. With miles of witches’ brew that included “A Mis Abuelos” (Ain’t like any grandpas I have ever met), the Stray Cats’ rendition of “Rock this Town”, and more, these Nashville alley cats entertained in grand ol’ style.

Bob Sullivan explained in deadpan, “They have a senior type of show.”

Alliance was a show stopper. The buzz in the souvie area both nights before showtime was about Alliance’s dramatic rise in Hendersonville, TN, August 2. Folks, Alliance is for real, especially the drum line. The corps opened with their muscle-bound drum line. They have always been known for color guard and the guard is solid. Catch the battery in Rochester. Pumped like Arnold on steroids, the crab-steppin’ Alliance drum line energized the horns and color guard.

My opinion, in their entire history, Alliance’s horn line has never closed a show with plenty of gas in the tank. This was true in Jacksonville, AL, July 27. In the "Six-day Miracle", this corps showed up near Nashville and the battery led the way for a fantastic show where the brass pumped the pistons through the last note.

The soft playing horns turned and let us have it in fff. Alliance is known for challenging their horns with a tough book and 2008 holds true to that mantra. The brass kept their intonation. The guard wrapped up the package. Meanwhile, the battery grabbed the horns by the bull and sparked them like the Energizer Bunny all the way through the closer both nights.

Alliance has a shot at DCA history — to be the first Class A corps to get into the night show based on score alone.

Take the I-35 Mixmaster from downtown Ft. Worth south, hang a SE and you’ll find Gulf Coast Sound doing quite well, thank you, with 35. The Houston, TX, reps rolled in with a fun-filled show, featuring the "invention" of lots of soloists like Tom Huntley and David Ngo on sops. The corps provided the crowd with version deaux of the highly successful rock show of aught-seven. With 20 horns pumping pistons and a battery of six providing the oomph, GCS had the spunk to overcome the sudden loss of 26 color guard in May. Three guard smiled and flourished through the trials and tribulations.

Gulf Coast hit us with sop rips, mello runs and a balanced horn line. A drum line soli to our right aroused the crowd on a slanting back drill, signed off by the tenor and the talented kit drummer. Catch the four bellowing contras in Rochester. GCS spun counter-clockwise in a rush of drill while silver/white flags waved about. “Rock & Ballad” was the next mood song. Nicely done!

Rock us with drum set vs. drum line. Catch this battle of the percussion at Paetec Park by Gulf Coast. Trading "catch this, dude" with "oh, yeah, well check this out", the percussion rocked the house like we were at a Cleveland, OH, concert at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. The whale dung low contras set the stage for sops Huntley and Ngo to split apart in the pit and erase laps in the stratosphere. Buy the DCA video in Rochester to enjoy this highlight.

Sun Devils Executive Director John Hoekstra, 48, has been at it for 42 years consecutively in drum corps. Stepping into the line to join his wife, Tammy, on mello, the Hoekstras are proud of their Florida corps. Opening with "sssh," the brass builds to a wonderful world swell. Judges like tension and the Sun Devils delivered as the tympanist set the mood. The drum line feature highlighted four solid snares and talented tenor and bass drums. The drill is tough to do with moments of difficult brass charts. The rhythms are treacherous.

Another battery soli put hands together in the stands. The high brass hang out and the mid- and low-voices join the ensemble to raise the decibels. The ballad had us watching the skilled guard flourishing flags as the pit joins in a superb moment. The dischords enter, weapons work on rifles took over and the sops dared to expose themselves stupendously. The bad news: the two Georgia shows ended a successful Sun Devils summer.

Director Sean Peck, Dick Pomerleau, et al. have turned heads with this year’s Shenandoah Sound. Virginia’s fine corps has a complete package with vets like Skyliner Heather in the front ensemble, Lisa on her mello solos, program coordinator duties and more. Beginning in pods of brass scattered hither and yon, the corps hit us from kneeling and standing positions.

The battery soli racked up oodles of points, giving way to the obligatory ballad. The drum majors traded podium for contra and the show rolled on down the Missouri. Once in a blue moon, jazzy licks grab us and “Blue Moon” was the ticket with a snappy sop solo and bari solo.

Make no mistake, Dick Pomerleau is in the house for Shenandoah Sound with his sop solos. Sean Peck joins in and matches Pomerleau above the staff. Four mellos took us into swing and Pomerleau trilled the night away like a nightingale. Slowing us down, the horn line played to the foothills . . . turning slowly . . . and played to us with gas still in the brass tanks. Lisa’s mello solo ripped shears in the air molecules, scaring away fireflies as the lights went out in Georgia.

Nicole, CV bass drum marcher and staff vet, said, "They’re definitely aggressive and talented. The [guard] writing is great. Nothing was overdone. I was impressed to see the drum line. Makes me want to see their indoor show."

My first viewing of the Austin Stars made me want to jump into their line. Full of talent, but not full of population, the gang from Sixth Street can melt the moulding in the Austin capitol dome. Stir in some Phantom experience, a 1996 Blue Devils ring bearer and a plethora of other corps vets, and it’s no wonder the Indian Blankets bloom brighter near Austin.

Borrowing Alan Farnsworth and the Vic Kulinski, Sr. memorial trophy-winning Gulf Coast Sound Honor Guard, the Austin Stars did just fine, thank you, with nine horns, a superb kit drummer and five color guard. Marching a drill that covered the turf, they needed to tromp with 10 star props arced backfield, the talent level of the horn line and the drum set percolator was astounding.

A line of nine exposes itself like an armadillo in the headlights, but these Comanche cats took over the cotton fields. Their opener made me compare ‘em to Superman recruited into the Texas Rangers. Rather than playing tricky rhythms repeating on the same note, these stellar musicians finger a variety of valves which produced — melody. My heart soared when I heard a song I played in corps as a kid, “There’s No Business Like Show Business” is what the Austin Stars give us!

Celestial soloists included Blake Waller, sop, Phantom ‘99, ‘01 vet, and Rob Johnson, mellophone. Bless the contra for laying the foundation for a pumping medley of diddies. The color guard did a superb job covering the range from Plano to Lubbock. After their Douglasville display, the Austin Stars rode like the Pony Express with 18-mile stops to change quarter horses. They were missed in Alpharetta.

Catch the fine DCA Dixie corps and all of North America’s superb entertaining all-age competitors and alumni corps in Rochester — www.dcacorps.org.

You may discuss this review on the DCP Forums. We’d love to hear your feedback.

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Posted by on Saturday, August 30th, 2008. Filed under DCW On-Line.