DCW On-Line: NorCal Round-up
California Summer Tour 2010
July 2010 – Northern California . . . Recently I returned from a short Northern California tour where I witnessed a new era of drum corps; what was once old is now new again. Ok, let me explain. Us old-timers always boast about the days when drum corps were known more by their music and marching ability than the sampled sounds and songs used to enhance the music of today.
Don’t get me wrong. Being a film composer myself, I thoroughly understand how sampling can drastically help the overall feeling of a production. I do it all the time. But in this case, the Santa Clara Vanguard blew me away with their 2010 show, “Bartok.” For us old folks, SCV looks as though they have returned to their roots and the glory days of being DCI champions, with a quirky but very classy style, yet very well-produced sampled elements electronically. They have managed to blend the old with the new.
This early in the season you don’t expect to see such a difficult but absolutely beautiful and technically sound show, with a color guard that should be performing in the likes of Carnegie Hall. But this year’s show is deep, intricate, silly yet highly-captivating. So now there’s only one thing missing . . . can we say “Bottle Dance.” If at all possible, do not miss this show. It’s fantastic.
“Mirror mirror on the wall, who’s the coolest of them all?” Well, it has to be, the Blue Devils. All “I” could say when they came onto the field was, what the . . . With a show titled “Through a Glass Darkly,” BD has totally outdone themselves this year to the point where the entire crowd was so dumbfounded and excited that they couldn’t stop screaming and yes, that was the men too . . . lol.
Rolling onto the field was at least 35 five-foot X 10-foot mirrors that instantly started reflecting light and giving the illusion of a corps of 300 instead of 150. Playing the music of jazz great Stan Kenton, the Blue Devils’ horn line this early in the season are UN-REAL! The drum line also is going to be extremely difficult to beat even while they sleep and the guard basically runs a marathon throughout the show to the point that you’re breathing hard also. Once again, David Gibbs produced a show where the past meets the present beautifully and seamlessly, a must-see, even if it does look like you are seeing double.
PURE CLASS! Pacific Crest this year is the Vanguard of Southern California. Their show, “Maze” is a production about getting from start to finish and from here to there. I just saw this show for the first time in Clovis and could not believe the huge sound from this horn line and the fast-paced drill these kids march while playing such old-world yet intricate musical pieces.
This show is comprised of 4 movements, 1. Game on; 2. Blocked; 3. Lost; and 4. Made it! This classical show will keep you at the edge of your seat the entire time they are on the field. At the end I walked over to Director Stewart Pompel and said, “that was fantastic!” I could not stop gushing about the massive difference and maturity that has developed in this drum corps and the overall sound . . . soooooo cool.
This is the best I’ve ever seen PC. The horn line performed this massively difficult score with ease and marched a show that can only be described as pure class.
Pacific Crest – Diamond Bar, CA
Drum Corps Planet Photo by Charlie Groh
The Troopers loaded their wagons and are on the lookout for those who are “Wanted.” Being the name of their 2010 show, this year’s Casper corps dropped in, literally, in front of a huge Northern California crowd this weekend. The opening number brought down the house with a full-corps, 50-yard-line “drop.” Yep, you heard me right, a stand-up straight then fall down to the ground in push-up position drop, which had this crowd on their feet in a matter of seconds.
With very cool new uniforms for the entire corps, the Troopers have definitely set their sights on finals just down the road. Corps Director Fred Morris should be really proud, this year’s horn line and the color guard are simply AMAZING. Actually, the entire corps looks “mid-July” and I can’t wait to see them in mid-July.” Great, show guys. And by the way, this rifle line . . . unbelievable.
The Blue Knights, known for their unique marching step-off, opened their 2010 show, “Europa,” with a vengeance. The horn line kicks some serious butt, the excellent performance by the color guard and their really cool and unusual flag poles (about a 35- degree bend) added a great visual look to the overall picture. This drum line ROCKS.
They already have that tight sound you usually hear late in the year, but early this season they are already looking and sounding incredibly clean. Having a show musically balanced with great melodies and beautiful soft passages, I can already see these guys in the top 12 at DCI again this year.
“To dream of far away lands” — that’s The Mandarins theme for 2010. Under the direction of Jim Tabuchi, the show is full of wonderful melodies and several different styles of music to portray the lifestyle of the Himalayas, India and finally arriving in China. Their show is absolutely captivating and visually stunning, especially the color guard’s uniforms and flags.
Musically, this show will take you all over the world and saturate your mind with the imagination of actually being in many far away lands surrounded by many different cultures. Each performance I’ve seen from this corps keeps getting better and better, including their horn line that I’ve always thought was one of the most pristine in drum corps. I seriously look forward to seeing more of the Mandarins this year. Don’t miss this show.
This is one Open Class corps that is smooth as “butta.” Just like their World Class counterpart, the Vanguard Cadets present a show that is titled “Chakra.” We know it as "force centers" or whirls of energy permeating from a point on the physical body to seven major energy centers. In this case, SCVC takes you on one of the smoothest and most metaphysical rides ever to be performed by an Open Class unit.
With the guard in candy apple red and a horn line hungry for revenge, the Santa Clara Vanguard Cadets have balanced their way to an absolutely entertaining show that will take you on an emotional roller coaster ride. A must see. Five out of five stars.
Blue Devils B is a force to be reckoned with. This corps will take everything they have and put it in your face. I was pleasantly surprised at the pure force behind this Open Class corps when they opened their show with this year’s theme, “Space.” With music by Imogen Heap, John Meehan and John Mapes, BDB tackles some extremely difficult musical scores that you would most likely hear in some of the top World Class corps.
Their musical repertoire consists of "Overture: Introduction and March" (from “Interstellar Suite”, "Battle: Planning the Attack/Return Fire/The Last Missile" (from “Interstellar Suite”), "Lux Aurumque" and "Aha." With a very difficult drill and music score to boot, you would think they might be in way over their heads. Well, don’t forget they are from the school of Blue Devils where they cultivate perfection.
Right now being early in the season they are totally on top of their game and I cant wait to see what a few more weeks will bring. This corps would give several World Class groups a major run for their money. So prepare yourself for a loud and visually beautiful show.
With a show titled “Fade to Black,” Revolution from San Antonio, TX, were surprisingly . . . fantastic. Most people would think because they are a smaller Open Class corps, that sound and drill would be limited – NOT. This was my first time seeing them and I really didn’t know what to expect. But low and behold, I’d have to admit that these guys are one of my new favorite Open Class corps. You have got to see them.
They are loud and extremely powerful for their size — a great drum line and color guard to go along with a great package. Their repertoire consists of “Liberty” by Steve Vai, “Uprising” by Muse, “The Motive Revolution” by Eric Whitacre, “Turbine” by John Mackey and “Tarantella” from “Ethel” by Phil Kline. If you get the chance this year, don’t miss their show, you’ll love it. As they say, “Join us as we explore this process from good to evil . . . light to dark. Things will never be the same again.
Ahoy there mateys. Blue Devils C set sail on their 2010 voyage this weekend, with a great 11-year-old trumpet player, Allen Abbott, in tow, and a show titled, “Voyage at C.” While sailing in and out of the ranks and probably trying to track down the Black Pearl, BDC had lots of new treasures of music to display for a great California audience.
This year’s repertoire consists of: “I Am the Very Model of a Modern General,” "Eternal Father, Strong To Save,” “The Naval Hymn,” “Korobeiniki" and the ever-popular "Yo Ho, Yo Ho, A Pirates Life For Me.”
This year, Jaedyn Boynton and the great Blue Devils C color guard, along with a fantastic drum line, lets you see right off the bat that these kids are out for gold. Go BDC.
One last note, I would like to thank DCI’s Rick Caccum and Mike Canote for their phenomenal hospitality at their annual “Moonlight Classic” drum corps show in , CA. Beautiful stadium, extremely gracious volunteers and great food . . . (that’s the only reason I go) . . . lol, just kidding. But in all seriousness, this is a fantastic show and I highly recommend this very well-produced event to everyone in 2011. Thanks guys.
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