The actual selection by DCI for this show is an interesting back story. The organizers were not informed that they were selected to host a show until late April. This coincides with the start of the National Boy Scouts Jamboree that kicked off Sunday, July 25, along the national Mall in Washington, D.C. Several of the corps at this competition were scheduled to appear in the parade and other events, so DCI decided to have a drum corps competition nearby. The Boy Scouts had hoped that the Atlanta DCI Southeastern Championship would be held on this same weekend so that Boy Scout-associated corps such as the Madison Scouts and The Cavaliers could attend. The scheduling did not match up as this weekend had these corps battling it out in San Antonio, TX, for the DCI Southwestern Regional.
This was the first time the weather forecast called for temperatures over 100 degrees here in Northern Virginia that didn?t include a heat factor which would definitely make this a hot show, with or without the corps.
Performing last this evening, Jersey Surf entered on the left side of the field to thunderous applause because the corps came wearing a brand-new, Michael Cesario-inspired uniform. They look fantastic. iI has a styling of a Naval officer?s uniform in a very dark blue with white trimmings that included a white cummerbund and waist sash. Added to that was a similar-colored blue shako with a 14-inch white plume. It made the corps members look really tall while the ensemble of members seemed huge in numbers. The color guard was also stunning in their skin tight cooper-colored outfits that really accent the show concept, “Living The Dream.?.
The front ensemble opened with a lone rifle kicked off Organ Variations on America which was very cool! And it gets LOUD! It was a very patriotic audience this evening as they loved everything the corps was doing this evening.
Brass was on fire tonight, a powerful performance, crisp and clean, the percussion feature with nice effects from front ensemble was beyond cool. The color guard was outstanding as they handled the equipment and choreography with great style.
The Ray Charles-inspired number of America the Beautiful was awesome! The piano-style opening was oh so sweet. The brass came in using a solo baritone that was brilliant. It was such a great number ? well-written and performed with panache.
Festival Variations on a National Air has such a mix of emotional and poetic phrases all rolled into an outstanding number. It is packed with visuals and fits well with the corps? theme. This program has feet and the corps can make a great statement when they come to Indianapolis in August. Surf has a mini-camp coming up, along with their actual tour, so they can work to lock down this program and come out swinging at the DCI Eastern Classic.
I had some time to visit with Jersey Surf?s director, Bob Jacobs, at their rehearsal facilities in Warrenton. It was there that I got my first look at the new uniforms and he told me this season?s program was developed around the idea of a true Mayberry RFD/Main Street performance to celebrate America. The selection of the music revolved around American organ music and even though the Ray Charles number was not specifically based on organ music, the staff saw the performance that would fit beautifully with the other two numbers. A point in fact was that the closer, Festival Variations on a National Air, was the name of the Star Spangled Banner before it was officially adopted by the government as the National Anthem.
Bob further told me that what he hoped that people come away from Surf?s show feeling that the kids are celebrating their drum corps experience while celebrating America, no matter how corny that may sound. If you were to ask any of the corps members what their number one job is in the corps , they would say, ?to share the love for what I do.? They talk about this all the time in the corps. Bob also tells the corps members to pick out someone in the audience and ?make them a fan? of the corps. This night they made it happen.
Looking really sharp in their mostly black uniforms, the 7th Regiment took the field in a tight block. The overlay triangle of blue and white stands out prominently and this was the first corps of the evening to use special sound effects through the front ensemble.
The New London, CT, corps led all the competitors this evening with only a 0.4 lead over Legends. The corps? strength was in GE Music, Visual Performance and Ensemble Music with the judges this evening.
This corps comes packed with a brass punch as they slapped the audience across the face with a full volume of sound. It was a very bold statement from both brass and percussion mere seconds after the announcement of the corps. Trumpets were fantastic with their intonation and overall tone. It was an outstanding opening with all elements working hard in their performance. The color guard has a nicely-demanding program. Brass was excelling tonight. Several different tempo changes and a total feel of the music and program was handled with aplomb. Danse Macabre was well-written for this corps? talent, which was in great supply.
There was excellent use of effects as the corps danced into the next number, A Long, Long Time Ago (from ?Pan’s Labyrinth?). There is a very mysterious and surreal-sounding effect that is generated by the front ensemble that truly added to the flavor of the theme. Regiment has some talent in the brass as they displayed excellent control when holding those long notes at almost full volume. Percussion was excellent in both support and features this evening as well.
They had good overall drill design and the performers handled it well. The color guard’s got real game, they have a nice book and they did a great job this evening.
String Quartet in F Major is excellent when near the end of the number the color guard pulled out these stuffed . . . something?s . . . and danced with them to a loud musical climax.
Next up was a performance of Serenada Schizophrana that certainly added to the corps? overall crafty performance. The show was visually strong, musically sound, highly expressive, just an overall excellent program. It was much fun to watch, intriguing to listen to, full of many cool ideas that made this show a plus for all in attendance. This was a well-engineered program and, if they can get consistency from start to finish, it will work well for them at the DCI Championship.
Coming in second this evening was Legends from Kalamazoo, MI, with their highly-intriguing show titled “Ruins.” They adorned the field with many interesting props that enhance the overall theme.
Vesuvius kicked off the show with some really tough brass licks attempted, with many done quite well as the brass took first on the music judge?s sheet this night. There is an excellent pace to the program that had a high-powered and very much in-your face quality. Percussion was thunderous out there as they practically stole the show at times while they too got the nod from the music judges this evening. They do have a highly demanding book and they performed it exceedingly well.
Eruption (from the ?Tarkus Suite?) was a beautiful production with a brass backfield performance that had such a nice ensemble sound, it was almost haunting in quality. There was some very nice accented body work from brass members, along with the color guard?s expert handling of the huge silks of blue, green and silver.
Drum Corps World photo by Ron Walloch
The musical selections had such majestic overtones. Pines of Rome and Fountains of Rome, for example, gave the corps a lot to work with. The color guard looked great dressed in a dark cooper-colored flowing dress in the style of goddesses. Very chic!
It was a good overall performance, but execution was a bit mixed. The show has a lot of demand and it will be a monster when it all comes together for the concluding shows in Indiana.
Coming out of the intermission this evening were the Raiders from Wayne, NJ, performing their 2010 production titled “Platinum Celebration.” Like several other corps this season, membership has been at a premium. This season?s corps is smaller, but they are mighty as they have a nicely talented base of young performers. This is the corps? 20th Anniversary and, according to Director Tom Maiello, they wanted to make this a truly celebratory season with music that is different than previous years, with a more upbeat sound and tempo.
The corps looked sharp with their blue cadet jackets with white trim. The color guard looked lovely in their white dresses with a light trim in silver. Elegance seemed to be the corps? theme this season. To add to their excellent evening, the guard was first on the visual judges? sheet.
Kicking off their production was Celebration Fanfare. The corps lined up across the mid-field and looked fantastic. A highly bold opening statement from both brass and percussion was the case from note one. It was loud, strong, majestic and even audacious. It was an incredible beginning to the program.
Raiders had a very nice lower brass statement, though not highly demanding, but they performed cleanly. The trumpets and mid-range brass took over with their own minor feature which they handled with great technique. The color guard handled the nicely-developed and coordinated program with noted equipment handling.
Exultate was the next number which opened quietly with the front ensemble. This was another place where the lower brass was able to shine after the front ensemble introduction. Visually the color guard is spread through the brass while the front ensemble was busy with a nice feature of their own and with the brass members lending support through accenting body movements. During this number, the color guard displayed some beautiful pastel swing flags that nicely complemented their outfits.
The celebration continued with Exhilaration and a more upbeat tempo, withj more full brass ensemble. Visually the show moved at a nice pace, adding to the demand of the performers.
The show ebbs and flows in tempo and style. This was especially true with New Beginnings where the color guard moved on to some lovely multi-blue and orange silks. It is here that the show design has the corps slide from right to left and concluded with a bold visual and musical statement.
Brass overall had a mixed performance this evening. Percussion has a nice book, but like the brass, they too had mixed presentation excellence. The color guard had a tough duty tonight handling their demanding program while maintaining their elegant styling. Overall it was a winner in the eyes of the fans this evening.
With a show designed around Gershwin music, Racine Scouts certainly got my attention this evening as I have a real love of all things Gershwin. The corps looked very nice with their medium blue tunics over white pants and their distinctive silver helmets and short red fox-tail accents. This is one of a few corps where the drum major conducts using a baton.
The show is aptly called ?Fascinating Rhythms — The Music of George Gershwin? and begins with a walking warm-up of Summertime and a very sultry performance backfield, then came the announcement and the corps continued with concluding Summertime to a solid and very loud sound. The corps has a very nice front ensemble moment with the introduction of An American in Paris. They do a few change-ups with a mixture of Gershwin numbers and a quick intro of Strike Up the Band. It was very clever arranging. With the color guard in mostly all yellow, this also was a cool visual statement.
The next number was also from ?Porgy and Bess? titled I Loves You, Porgy. This was a richly-designed ballad and illustrated a brass line that has been improving every season. Percussion joined the color guard on flags that I think would have been more effective if they were not so different from the silks used by the guard.
Interesting moments with the Scouts? performance of I got Rhythm, with a very cool tuba soloist and a jazzy set drummer situated in the front ensemble. The number included highly-expressive jazz keyboards. Some nice brass statements were noted as the corps launched back into a more sultry performance of An American in Paris that was very well -eceived by tonight?s audience. Percussion was first rate and expressive throughout the whole show.
The color guard worked hard to bring in a strong performance. Brass had touches of brilliance at times and if they can lock into their whole performance it will be something to behold. Percussion has some young chops and they have a book that is designed well for their current talent.
It was a fun show and the crowd loved it!
Les Stentors from Canada looked outstanding tonight in their blue jackets and black pants. With a bigger corps and with the color guard is outfitted in yellow and black, this complements the corps colors nicely. They open their program with a number titled Un Nouveau Jour (translates to A New Day) with their first number called Grace Kelly featuring a duet of trumpets who did a very nice job. The color guard had silks made up of red/white/yellow and they were highly visible against the corps coloring.
Comme au Premier Jour was up next and had an interesting percussion featurette with the line performing with great expression. The color guard is a real standout doing a good job with both choreography and equipment. Brass was loud and concluded the number in grand style.
Stentors? next number was Rock et Belles Oreilles Medley which was a very nice brass ballad — the ensemble performance was much more in sync in this number. The was expressive and worked well with this young corps? talent. The had a very cool effect when the color guard switched to large white silks. The corps started strong and bold and ended soft and elegant.
Some real swing and tempo change with a percussion opening of Til the Day I Die and the audience into the swing of the number. The part where the bass drums perform with the drums in a row on the ground and playing drum-to-drum in a follow-me ensemble was a lot of fun. The percussion feature had the whole line swinging and performing with style. The brass sang and boogied on the field before the ensemble came together and closed this fun number with panache.
The software melody of When I Rise was almost a rest bit ,showing off a stronger ensemble performance by the brass. Ending the show was a very expressive performance of La Revolution that had the corps showing more style and a stronger performance. They had a strong ending, with a nice overall show where the design and demand is well-suited to this corps? capabilities.
First up this evening was Spirit of Newark from New Jersey, performing a kind of futuristic program oddly called ?Kilroy was Here.? The program opened with a quiet performance of Mr. Roboto working the 12 brass — it was a very cool tune and the audience loved it. Some park and play moments had the eight-member color guard on the front sideline with silks of black and red. The number ended strong with percussion pushing forward to the front line.
For the size and talent, this corps has a lot of heart. Opening with a mellophone solo to Haven’t We Been Here Before, it was a nice ballad for this very young corps. The color guard on blue and white swing flags did an admirable job.
Next up was a percussion feature ttiled Heavy Metal Poisoning. Many attempts at some visual drill impacts were noted. Percussion was expressive, however, the color guard program was incomplete at this point of the show.
They performed Don’t Let It End right after the percussion feature and ended the program with a reprise of Mr. Roboto.
In summary, this was a young corps with much heart and they did a good job, the crowd was very attentive and they gave the corps nice, receptive applause.
I wasn?t sure if many in attendance tonight actually understand the mission statement of the Spirit of Newark. This organization, season after season, takes in intercity youth, often with no musical training whatsoever, and teaches them to perform as a drum corps. No matter the results, their program takes these youth out of the city and exposes them to a level of discipline, a love of music and a chance to see the world from a whole different point of view. They may never have had a chance to experience this without the corps. It is never about competition, it is always about respect and making it better one day at a time. I take my hat off to the management and instructors of this corps for all the hard work they offer these young people.
After the competition ended, the Jersey Surf brass line came back on the field for a special encore performance. It was interesting to note on this hot evening that hardly anyone left the stands. The brass performed a cool rendition of the ?Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory? musical number Imagination (remember it is used in that AT&T commercial with the paper cutouts). The brass line concluded with a chorale performance that illustrated the quality of the brass.
By the way, if you ever get to a show with the Jersey Surf in attendance, check out their souvenir table and look up Bill Ives. He is worth the price of admission. He?ss hysterical and tells such excellent stories. He also hawks the Surf merchandise like a master salesman. You will leave the booth with at least a smile if not an arm full of merchandise.
I also wanted to note that the organizers did a stupendous job pulling this show off given the short amount of time and the change in show venue. They made the evening very welcoming and the food was excellent.