DCW On-Line: Michigan City Review

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49th “Pageant of Drums” showcases corps in Michigan City, IN

July 5, 2009 — Michigan City, IN . . . In the chronicles of the activity, there are giants who have endured the years: Allentown, Stockton and Charlotte to name a few. One of the longest running, if not the longest and continuously held shows, is the “Pageant of Drums,” which kicked off the local “Summerfest” with its 49th installment.

What endears this event to audiences is the welcoming presence of its enthusiastic citizens, cozy stadium and accommodating access. Many will argue, however, that it’s really the Dairy Queen across the street, which purposefully stays open long after the show.

Ames Field sported a new turf, full stands and a complete judging panel for the first time this season. Those judges included Nola Jones (GE Visual), John Bell (GE Music), Jeff Young (Visual Performance), Ed Warren (Visual Ensemble), Tim Johnson (Brass), Andy Cook (Music Ensemble), Steve Ulicny (Percussion), Marie Czapinski (Colorguard and Chief Judge), Joe Courtney (Timing & Penalties and Show Coordinator), and Gil Baker (Tabulator).

The evening kicked off with the Michigan City High School Wolfpack Marching Band performing the National anthem.

The Cavaliers, “The Great Divide”
First in all captions and sub-captions, the Green Machine continues to scale the heights with “mountainous” audacity. Introduced only a few days previous to this show, a new move has a guard member literally climbing a wall of brass. Also of interest are glass bottles used in the pit to create cave sounds; “dripping stalactites,” explained guard designer Andy Toth, who was pleased with all the new work.

Blue Stars, “The Factory”
Over four points above the next placement, Blue Stars continue to earn a place in the top tier. “It was a great show,” said trumpet tech Amy Frost. “I’d been off the past week, so it was nice to come back and hear the show with fresh ears.” She noted that tonight was the unveiling of the new ending — a show that follows factory workers from pre- to post-WW II using actual electronic recordings from the era.

Glassmen , “The Journey of ONE”
With shades of Naperville (and Allentown) appearing on the horizon, this first post-intermission corps faced another rain-out and came out unscathed. Guard tech Michael Zablocki was encouraged by the evening’s performance. “The guard movement was executed extremely well.” One snare begins the ‘journey of one’ and throughout the show an individual is singled out of their line — a guard member, a horn player, etc. “It’s shows varieties of one, different but the same,” explained Zablocki.

Colts, “Fathoms”
Given that Colts performed before intermission, down seven performers and were the first World Class corps up that night, their fourth-place finish, just .55 out of third — belies their potential. With a strong third in GE, they have the design to take them places in 2009. A nautical theme is carried throughout.

Colts, Dubuque, IA
Photo by Ron Walloch
Courtesy of Drum Corps World

Madison Scouts, “Relámpago”
Use of primary colors, sashes, costumes and elements of classic comic superheroes (the “Batman” trill, “Superman” logo, sound effects) add to the comic theme to this boisterous show. Cymbal tech Pepper Wooters was surprised at their energy given the corps had just arrived from a four-hour drive and only had one run-through plus a 20-minute warm-up prior. “They fought the fight,” she nodded. Indeed, they did, placing a strong third in Visual Performance and Brass.

Spirit, “Live . . . In Concert!”
Rocking to familiar Kansas tunes, it’s a concert from start to finish with sound checks on a bull-horn to the electric guitar. The only thing missing was the audience pulling out illuminated cell phones to mimic Bic lighters while swaying back and forth. In the opening statements, watch for the cymbals as they perform a series of head-chops over the basses.

Legends, “Incrementum”
Using music based on Ravel’s “Daphnis et Chloe,” high individual demand, both musically and physically, make this corps one to watch. A trumpet, raised up by the battery, showed good control. It’s impressive to note that Legends still has another three minutes to get on the field.

Memphis Sound, “Celebrations: Rebirth of a Planet”
In their 2009 debut, Memphis Sound (soon to be Forte) brought out a strong color guard, taking first in their Open Class caption, while the musicians led as a strong musical ensemble. Competing against a local train — it had the decency to toot in the right key — the corps also was working with three holes.

In exhibition following the show was the Classic Cavaliers, performing memorable tunes including “Somewhere/Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”

The current Cavaliers performed a post-show encore followed by an age-out recognition ceremony and a centerfield gathering of alumni and 2009 members singing the corps song.

The Cavaliers Guard Sergeant, Brandon Givens.
Here at the Cavalier age-out ceremony, Brandon was given a standing ovation
by the corps, alumni and fans after announcing that this was his sixth and
final season with the corps, a longevity rarely achieved.
Photo Courtesy of Drum Corps World

Throughout the evening, a 50-50 raffle was conducted toward a Cavalier scholarship. The 16th annual Steve Brubaker Scholarship to individual Cavaliers who demonstrate an academic interest outside drum corps was awarded to Sam Bivens (tuba), Evan Cooper (baritone) and Steve Dailey (snare).

If you wish to contribute and/or learn more about this fund, go to http://www.cavaliers.org/info/sbs.html

Pageant of Drums has been under Chairman Mike Pease’s direction for the last 12 years. Tonight’s show was dedicated to the memory of Mike’s mom, Barbara Pease, “a true drum corps fan.”

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

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Posted by on Tuesday, July 21st, 2009. Filed under DCW On-Line.