DCW On-Line: Bridgeport CT Review

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Buccaneers sail to victory at ‘Barnum Festival’

June 26, 2010 – Bridgeport, CT . . . The Reading Buccaneers’ consecutive winning streak reached 49 as they swept all captions at “Champions on Parade” sponsored by the Barnum Festival Committee. The hot and hazy weather conditions gave way to some annoying rain showers just before the start of the show, but rapidly left the area for the rest of the evening.

Fellow staff writer Timothy “Ace” Holleran served as the emcee for the evening and did an excellent job keeping the crowd informed and involved. Since it is only the second week of the season and half of the competing corps were making their 2010 debut, I will focus on giving readers and fans the most informative review I can and elaborate more on each corps as the season proceeds.

The Reading Buccaneers travel to Rome this season with a production that very well may be one of DCA’s all time best. The field presentation gives you the feel that you are actually in a Roman arena with herald trumpets and podiums and purple and silver banners placed on the field. “Pines of Rome” grabs your attention from the start as the color guard and corps members use large poles to add to the visual presentation.

The brass line kneels while playing as the marching percussion line moves about the field at a rapid pace. The large front ensemble and the six members of the cymbal line are very talented and artistic in their playing. This show is the total package in all areas and it will take an enormous effort by one of the other DCA corps to knock the Buccaneers from the top. Make this show a must-see during the summer. And one important fact that happened tonight was that the color guard ended the Hurricanes’ two-year unbeaten streak by 0.8.

The Hawthorne Caballeros are presenting “Behind the Mask” as their show title and came to Bridgeport to make a statement — that they did! I really got into their show as it had a good intensity level from start to finish and I was impressed by the horn line especially. Overtones of the famous “rumps” were heard in the opener as their Latin music theme will entertain fans a great deal this summer.

The guard uses pastel-colored silks with a mask printed on them to enhance the show’s title. The Cabs have many different body visuals displayed in their program which were well-done as the corps has a program that will entertain and leave you asking for more as the season progresses.

I had the pleasure of sitting next to Corps President Frank Gerris tonight. He is still going through recovery from a stroke last year and looked and sounded great. Business Manager Al Katz suffered a heart attack during the week and I know that all of his friends as well as myself wish him a speedy recovery.

Looking for some divine intervention, the Connecticut Hurricanes are presenting “Heaven Sent” as their 2010 program. The show depicts the seven deadly sins and is energetic, emotional and colorful.

I have to start the Hurcs report out with attention to the percussion section which has improved greatly over last year and displayed a great deal of energy and many visuals in their playing. The marching percussion line plays with their hands on their drums instead of their sticks in the ballad to add to the visual presentation.

The color guard work is well-written into the drill patterns and, even though they saw their winning streak broken tonight, do not count them out yet since they get their rematch with the Bucs in Lewisburg, PA, in two weeks.

The only negative I had was that the horn line definitely ran out of gas in the second half of the show. The Hurricanes have a visually-loaded program that should keep them in the upper tier of DCA this year. The fans voted Hayley Milliman, Scott Williamson and Kate Socha best drum majors this evening, while the honor guard under the guidance of Rich Tardie gun for a seventh straight world title at DCA with their win tonight.

The entrance onto the field from the Bushwackers is definitely different, unusual and highly visual. They come onto the field from the right end zone to a base drum on wheels beating as the entire corps gets into their roles to present “Voodoo” to the fans. The color guard does an exceptional job selling the show from start to finish. The horn line is small to start the season as is the percussion line, but will greatly improve as new members are added.

A highly-visual moment is during the percussion feature when the horn line places their horns on the field and joins the guard in a circle form set to the right. Many different body forms and shapes are displayed as the theme comes to life in this moment. The Bushwackers have a tremendous amount of potential and will rapidly grow as the season rolls along.

Fusion Core
Drum Corps World photo by Moe Knox

Entering the field in their stunning new uniforms, Fusion Core is presenting “Changing Perception” as their show theme. Using the music from Broadway’s musicals “Wicked” and “Jekyll and Hyde,” the corps is definitely a Class A contender this season. The color guard is outfitted in purple, green and white uniforms which blend in very well with the corps’ new purple and black colors.

The drill is nicely written for a small corps, but their field scores had them last in brass, percussion and visual. Cleaning and individual responsibilities will cure this quickly as well as finishing the incomplete guard work. I enjoyed this program and will monitor its progress as the season moves along.

What do “Dragnet,” “Perry Mason,” “Magnum P.I.” and Carolina Gold have in common? They are all murder-mystery shows. “Primary Suspects” is Carolina’s show theme, complete with shots fired, a corps member shot down, sirens and a lot more. The choice of weapon colors by the color guard is blue rifles and yellow sabers which is different, while the black silks with white question marks reflect the show’s title.

The horn line displays many body visuals in “North by Northwest,” but at times they were overpowered by the percussion line. I was pleasantly surprised by Carolina Gold tonight and really got into their program, but was a little disappointed that the closer was played in concert form since the drill is not yet finished. Fans should enjoy this program and, when finished, it definitely has the potential to be a strong Class A contender.

To open the exhibitions tonight, the P.A.L. Cadets presented a nautical theme show with a very demanding musical book for such a small and young group. However, they are to be commended for getting through their musical charts. Remember that this is the future of drum corps and they need our support and encouragement to succeed.

Les Diplomats were scheduled to perform tonight ,but had a very unfortunate incident happen to them on the way to the show. Half of the corps drove to the show while the other half came on a bus. The bus was stopped by customs agents in Vermont and, since some paperwork was missing and some questions were not answered properly, the bus was turned back to Canada — not before up to six hours of questioning and fingerprinting took place.

I totally understand and respect our new terrorist laws, but this was just incredible as to what happened to our friends from North of the boarder. Please, Art Harris and his committee must invite our friends back next year!

I have to be honest in that the highlight of the night was up next in exhibition as the Bayonne Bridgemen took the field. From the opening brass warm-up to the opener of “Bolero” and into the get down number of “In the Stone,” the Bayonne corps had Bridgeport rocking. Kermit the Frog would love hearing the “Rainbow Connection” as played by the corps this year.

The percussion feature has the snare line up front and playing on a rack of drums set along the front side line, while the brass line shuffles across the field. With the horns swaying from side to side with the music, “Spanish Dreams” builds in volume in a company front and ends in a huge park-and-play to the end. An encore at trackside to the fans of “William Tell Overture” lifted everyone out of their seats to a very large standing ovation. The Bridgemen are celebrating their 45th anniversary this year and were definitely a crowd favorite tonight.

Park City Pride had the hometown fans in their corner with World Drum Corps Hall of Fame Drum Major Bob Findley leading the way. The horn line is very large and well- balanced, while the percussion section is talented and also very large. The rifle/cymbal/musical line from last year has returned and are very versatile in what they do and are featured up-close and personal for most of the show.

John Donovan has a baritone solo in “As Time Goes By” that demands attention, while Bob Bradley, Mike Marella and Art Hylwa are the featured trumpet trio in the closing number, “I’ll Be Seeing You.” The corps salutes America with a large color presentation to the front.

Closing out the exhibitions was the United States Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps. PFC Drew Rockwell served as the emcee for the group and gave fans a history lesson on the corps and its meaning.

A special award was given tonight to Drum Corps World photographer Moe Knox for his contributions to the activity over his many years of service (nearly 50). And why is not this man in the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame?

An Olympic retreat followed as the scores and caption awards were announced. Each and every corps tonight is to be commended for giving fans their money’s worth as each and every one of them came out a winner.

The City of Bridgeport was the real winner as the city was struck by a tornado on Thursday afternoon with much destruction and property loss. The best thing was that there were no lives lost in this disaster.

Mayor Bill Fitch and police Chief Joe Gaudette joined forces to make sure that all roads leading to Kennedy Stadium were cleared and safe for the fans coming in.

As P.T.Barnum, who is celebrating his 200th anniversary said, “The show must go on” and that it did!

Thanks to Art Harris and the Barnum Committee. Special thanks to DCA officials Gil Siva, Red Corso and Glen Johnson for their valuable assistance.

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

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Posted by on Thursday, July 8th, 2010. Filed under DCW On-Line.