DCW On-Line: Middleton, WI Review

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Blue Devils B premiers in Midwest
With strong win in Middleton, WI

August 2, 2008 – Middleton, WI . . . While Capital Sound isn’t fielding a corps this season, they still hosted a wonderful  12-corps DCI Open Class event at the excellent Breitenbach Stadium on the campus of Middlton High School.  Easily leading the strong contingent of corps, the Blue Devils B impressed the crowd of about 800 fans with a jazz musical book that reminded everyone of their big brothers and sisters years ago.

The uniforms, size and prowess of the young people who make up the second tier of the three-corps Blue Devils organization wowed everyone with their flight-inspired visual and musical book that kicked off with a guard member using fluorescent orange markers to guide the evening’s journey.  Restrained but effective announcements were made during the production using pit members and a megaphone or microphone to make the familiar announcements from the cockpit and flight attendants.

The corps began their DCI tour by taking the train from Concord to Chicago where they’ll continue their short trek toward Michigan City, IN, and then Bloomington as they make a strong bid for the DCI Open Class title that will be determined Saturday morning, August 9 at IU Stadium.

Spokane Thunder powered their black, grey and white “Antithesis” program to a confident showing in second place.  The multiple field props that help define the performance area strengthen the look of the corps and help define the musical and visual product.  This is by far the strongest corps to come out of Spokane since Thunder began and perhaps of all the corps that have existed in that Western Washington city previously – Percussion-naut Patriots and Renaissance being the predecessors.

Citations provided a very tuneful series of tunes from Stephen Sondheim’s successful Broadway and movie version of “Sweeney Todd”.  The opening production was particularly effective as the enlarged Burlington, MA, corps is enjoying their best season in a long time, perhaps ever.  The infusion of staff and members from the Nashua Spartans has certainly strengthend the corps and has moved the group higher in DCI’s rankings.

New Jersey’s Raiders used the show theme “Deep Blue” effectively through the uniforms that look so much like the Blue Knights and the equipment used by the guard in shades of blue and turquoise.  The mostly unfamiliar music was played well by the brass and percussion and presented visually by the excellent guard.  This corps is also having one of their best seasons yet.

Dutch Boy made another appearance in Capital Sound’s show and joined the other active Canadian corps, Les Stentors, in representing their country.  Last year, H.Y.P.E. was also here, but their organization is taking the season off from touring.  The Kitchener, ONT, Dutch Boy had an interesting production called “Boxed” and it consisted of some interesting musical selections and lots of boxes provided in the drill and on flags that appeared throughout the show.  At times there were moments reminding me of the great years of the corps when they were near or made DCI Finals in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Impulse – Buena Park, CA
DCW On-Line Photo by Ken Sallee

Impulse has shied away from the humorous shows they started with when the corps first appeared and the 2009 theme centered on “The Game” and music composed for the organization by the prolific composer (and drum corps alumni) John Meehan.  He marched with the Blue Devils and his father was a long-time instructor with the Troopers.  The yellow-clad unit had a strong presentation this evening and I only wish they had more guard (four tonight) to go with their excellent brass and percussion sections.

Legends appeared in brand-new, very attractive uniforms and made quite an impression for only starting three years ago.  The brass section was particularly strong, including some multiple-tonguing at several points during the show.  The color guard had several sets of beautiful flags and added to the overall presence of this corps from Michigan.

The 7th Regiment is making a rare Midwest appearance and their Mexican-inspired repertoire was very much appreciated by the audience this evening.  With a repertoire contining perhaps double or triple what most other corps utilize, it was still quite enjoyable to hear Giinastera, Copland and Reed Spanish-flavored selections played by Connecticut’s only junior corps entrant.

The Colt Cadets had the most effective uniform of the show.  Their appearance early in the competition happened to be timed with the full afternoon sun showing off their cream, red and black design.  Getting away from the “cute” shows of the past, the “New American Signatures” included tunes by Paul Simon and the group Kansas, with striking burgundy dresses on the huge guard and star-themed flags that sruck the crowd as inspiring.

My favorite repertoire of the year (World or Open class) is being played by the Racine Scouts.  This corps always has very clear, recognizable musical selections and this year’s Frank Sinatra-iinspired set of tunes arranged by the talented Chuck Naffier is among their most effective.  The enlarged guard, brass and percussion sections performs the fairly simple but well-executed show with a lot of heart and I was quite excited to see the activity’s longest continuously operated junior corps stage one of their best seasons in many years.

Racine Scouts – Racine, WI
DCW On-Line Photo by Harry Heidelmark

Les Stentors from Quebec is keeping their province’s drum corps hopes alive.  From what was once a huge drum corps activity to maintaining the only program still active, this group of young people presented a quite enjoyable “Sinbad – the Legen of the Seven Seas” theme using music by Harry Gregson-Williams that was filled with nautical music and visual references by the nearly 50-member corps.  Thanks for keeping the idea of drum and bugle corps alive in Quebec!

And finally, the Spirit of Newark brought their religious-themed show to Middleton, complete with brightly-colored church choir robes on the bigger-than-normal pit for this New Jersey corps.  This year’s tour is considerably shorter and probably easier for the group after last year’s cross-country trek to California.  As one of the few remaining corps in the state that once boasted perhaps 100 junior corps, Spirit of Newark is keeping the flame lit with their “The Urgency of Now/The Human Experience” program.

Capital Sound Director Marc Gofstein has high hopes for bringing the corps back to the field in 2009, with members returning from marching with other organizations and an influx of young people from other areas of the country where the Madison corps has made inroads over the last few seasons.  They’ll reappear with brand-new uniforms that never got to be seen in 2008, as well as new percussion equipment.  Everyone wishes them the best as they rebuild after the late-spring decision to not come out because they couldn’t find sufficient in-town housing for one-third of their members.

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Posted by on Monday, August 4th, 2008. Filed under DCW On-Line.