World Drum Corps Hall Of Fame 2011 Inductees

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The individuals being inducted into the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame in Rochester, New York on Labor Day weekend have a record of outstanding achievements dating back to the 1950, stretching from coast to coast in North America and across the Atlantic to the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

The luncheon and induction ceremony on Saturday, September 3 will include eight new regular members and the 2011 winner of the President’s Lifetime Achievement award.

Although there is no connection between the Hall of Fame and Drum Corps Associates, the induction ceremony is traditionally held as part of DCA’s championship tournament weekend. The Hall of Fame program includes a pre-noon exhibit of memorabilia, social hour, awards luncheon and annual general meeting. Members of the public are welcome to attend the social hour and the luncheon. For information visit the Hall of Fame website at

This year’s inductees have made major contributions dating back to the 1950s. This year’s winner of the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award is Frank J. Neill of Sewell, New Jersey. The eight new regular members are Jim Allen of Amherst, New York; Joseph Alletag of Hatfield, Pennsylvania; Solon ‘Hardy’ Carrasas of Geneva, New York; Michael Duffy of West Edmonds, Washington; Ron Gehris of Mohrsville, Pennsylvania; Harold ‘Skip’ Groff, who is being recognized posthumously; John Mayer of St. Peter, Minnesota; Chris Thompson of Brighton, Michigan.

Joseph Alletag: Hatfield, Pennsylvania

Joe Alletag was active in a wide range of positions in the drum and bugle corps community, including soprano horn player, music instructor, assistant director, corps president and judge over a span of more than three decades. After marching with a junior corps, he played soprano horn with Reilly Raiders for 10 years. He served as assistant music director for Liberty Bell Cadets for two years and East German Cadets for three years. For 10 years, he was music instructor for Rising Sun Cadets. He also served as music instructor for Lamplighters for four years and Bellaires for six years. His responsibilities as an administrator included serving as assistant director of Rising Sun Cadets for four years and as corps president of Reilly Raiders for five years. After winding up his activities as a performer and instructor, he judged the visual music caption with the Eastern States Judging Association for five years and the Mid Atlantic Judging Association for 30 years. He has also served as chief judge of the Cavalcade of Bands Circuit.

Michael Duffy: West Edmonds, Washington

Mike Duffy started his drum corps activities on the west coast and worked his way as far east as Toronto, Ontario, performing as a top ranked soprano soloist and blazing new trails as a creative, exciting brass arranger and teacher. Several corps in Canada and the United States reached their highest level of performance when he taught them. He is the only brass arranger to have his corps finish in the top two positions in the Drum Corps International (DCI) finals in the same year. He began playing a soprano horn with Pasco Columbians in 1957. He also played with Portland Hawks, Seattle Thunderbirds and Seattle Shamrocks before aging out of junior ranks in 1965. During the early 1960s, he finished in the top three in the soprano individual category for three consecutive years at the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) national convention. He was one of the first to creatively arrange brass music specifically for drum and bugle corps rather than simply transposing marching band charts. His career as brass arranger and instructor began with the Thunderbirds in 1963. He worked with Casper Troopers from 1968 to 1971. The Troopers won the VFW national title in 1970. In 1972, he arranged for and taught both Anaheim Kingsmen, who won the DCI title and LaCrosse Blue Stars, who finished second, their highest position ever. In 1974 DeLaSalle Oaklands of Toronto finished sixth at DCI and, known as Oakland Crusaders the following year, finished fifth, the highest placing of any corps from outside the United States at DCI finals. Other corps under his guidance included Seattle Marksmen, Seattle Imperials, Alberta All Girls and Anaheim Kingsmen Alumni Corps. He served as music director for the Columbians, Shamrocks and Alberta All Girls at various times from 1964 to 1978.

Chris Thompson: Brighton, Michigan

After performing in the percussion section with the Crossmen from 1976 to 1978, Chris Thompson began arranging and teaching junior and all-age drum and bugle corps across the United States and Europe. Every percussion section he taught over a thirty-year span finished among the top 10 finalists in Drum Corps International (DCI) and Drum Corps Associates (DCA) championship contests. He arranged for and taught Madison Scouts’ percussion section for eight years from 1984 to 1992, finishing in the top five every year. In various years since 1979, he has been percussion instructor and arranger for Crossmen and percussion instructor for Northern Aurora in the junior ranks and percussion instructor and arranger for many top ranked all-age corps: Reading Buccaneers, New York Skyliners, Minnesota Brass, Rochester Crusaders and Racine Scouts senior corps. Overseas, he was instructor and arranger for Beatrix Drum Corps in the Netherlands from 1991 to 1995 and arranger for Beacon Sunrisers Drum Corps in the United Kingdom in 1992. He has also served as the instructor of the University of Michigan marching band percussion section and as a clinician for Yamaha percussion instruments.

Jim Allen: Amherst, New York

Jim Allen has excelled as an instructor and performer with a number of junior and all-age drum and bugle corps that consistently finished at the top in state and national championship contests. He was visual designer for Syracuse Brigadiers from 1997 to 2007. In that period, the Brigs won the Drum Corps Associates (DCA) title five times: in 1997 and four years in a row from 1999 to 2002. He was also responsible for visual design with both of Rochester’s national-calibre corps: Empire Statesmen in 2008 and 2009 and the Crusaders in 1971 and 1973 and again from 1980 to 1983. In the 1970s, he was visual designer at various times for Empire State Express of Elmira, Rochester Patriots and St. Joseph’s of Batavia when they won the Canadian Open Championship title. He was also the brass instructor with St. Joe’s and Bayonne Bridgemen during that decade. His lifelong involvement with drum and bugle corps activity began in 1956, when he played soprano bugle with the Dutchtown Ramblers. He played soprano with Rochester’s Ridge Culver Statesmen for three years then was a soprano soloist with St. Joe’s from 1963 to 1970. During that time, St. Joe’s won eight New York State American Legion titles and made the finals in the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) national championships four times. He has served as assistant director and director with St. Joe’s and assistant director of American Patrol of Batavia. He judged marching for the New York Chapter of the All-American Judging Association from 1971 to 1974 and with the New York Federation of Contest Judges since 1974. He was the chair of the local organizing committee when the Drum Corps International (DCI) championships were held in Buffalo, New York in 1990 and 1995.

John Mayer: St. Peter, Minnesota

John Mayer has dedicated more than a quarter of a century to insuring that the Govenaires, the oldest competing drum and bugle corps in North America, continues to flourish. The corps originated in 1927 as the St. Peter Legion Corps and had several name changes before becoming the Govenaires in the 1960s, named in honor of the five state governors who came from the town. Since playing in the Govenaires drum line from 1980 until 1986, he has taught every caption except brass, won several best drum major awards at Drum Corps Associates (DCA) championship tournaments, and led the corps to championships in 2006 and 2008 in the DCA Class A category for small corps. He began arranging for and teaching the Govenaires drum line in 1985. Since then, he has served as both program and visual designer for almost 20 years. He has also been the corps director since 2002. His record of continual service with the Govenaires was interrupted only when he played tenor drum with Madison Scouts in 1987 and ’88.

Ron Gehris: Mohrsville, Pennsylvania

Ron Gehris has contributed to the success of the Reading Buccaneers by serving in positions ranging from marching in the honor guard to serving as corps director and president. In addition, he has driven the corps truck, donated food and purchased a new trailer for the corps. He was serving his first year as president and corps director when the Buccaneers won the Drum Corps Associates (DCA) championship title in 1979 then repeated their top place finish in 1980. He was named the DCA director of the year for both those years. The Buccaneers finished in the top five at DCA championship tournaments during eight of the 13 years he served as head of the organization. He also served as the Buccaneers business manager and financial manager at various times between 1976 and 1993. He was the guard co-ordinator from 1973 to 1981 and marching instructor from 1973 to 1984, winning a number of color guard titles, including best guard at the DCA finals. His participation in drum corps activity began in 1957 with the Kenhorst Green Hornets junior corps in Reading. Over the following five years he played soprano and French horn. He marched with the Junior Buccaneers from 1962 to 1966, playing soprano horn. In 1971, he marched with the Buccaneers honor guard, carried a flash flag from 1972 to 1976 and served as color guard captain from 1973 to 1980. He was named the Buccaneer of the 1980s by the organization and is one of 10 charter inductees in the Buccaneer Hall of Fame.

Solon ‘Hardy’ Carrasas: Geneva, New York

Hardy Carrasas was not only one of the top solo soprano players of the 1950’s and 1960’s, while with the Geneva Appleknockers, but widely considered one of the best show designers and marching and maneuvering instructors in those two decades and right through the 1970s as well. In all his years of instructing he designed more than fifty field shows for drum corps and nearly that same amount for competitive color guards. He instilled a love of the activity in many participants who went on to become top ranked instructors and judges, including several who are now members of the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame. The senior drum and bugle corps he taught from upstate New York were among the best in the country including the Geneva Appleknockers, Rochester Crusaders, Hamburg Kingsmen and the Utica Executives. The junior corps he taught were equally as well known on a national basis such as: the Geneva Appleknockers Juniors, St. Joseph’s of Batavia, Watkins Glen Squires, Auburn Purple Lancers, the Corning Barons of Steuben and the Owego Mello Dears All Girls corps. He judged all of the marching and maneuvering and color uard captions with the All-American Judges Association, the New York Federation of Contest Judges, and Drum Corps Associates (DCA), as well as judging many American Legion regional and national events. He also served as Chief Judge while with the New York Federation of Contest Judges.

Harold ‘Skip’ Groff: (deceased)

Skip Groff was one of the activity’s best solo soprano players during his years of participation in drum and bugle corps events. He competed in dozens of American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) individual contests and won them all. For one notable contest, he played the Carnival of Venice on a French horn. He wrote music and instructed a number of well-known corps in Pennsylvania and Maryland and produced immediate improvement in each of them. In 1954 and ’55, he played soprano bugle with the Westshoremen. He became a solo soprano player with the United States Air Force Academy drum and bugle corps in 1955. Following that he was the soloist with Yankee Rebels from 1958 to 1966 and Archer-Epler/Reilly Raiders in 1967 and 1968. From the late 1950s until 1972 he was the brass arranger and instructor for Westshoremen and Yankee Rebels. In 1968, he performed the same service with the Archie/Reilly corps. He was arranger and instructor with Hanover Lancers for a full decade starting in 1960 and with Milton Keystoners from 1960 to 1964. During the 1960s, he also arranged for and taught two prominent junior corps: Dundalk Cadets and York White Roses.

President’s Lifetime Achievement Award for 2011

Frank J. Neill: Sewell, New Jersey

Frank Neill has made a major impact on the activities of Reilly Raiders during two eras and spearheaded the formation of an alumni corps association to benefit this growing area of the activity.

In 1956, as a nine-year old snare drummer, he joined the Yearsley Blackhawks, based in the Germantown section of Philadelphia. Taught by Lee Boyce, the Blackhawks were a parade corps in the process of reorganizing following its championship years. On Memorial Day, 1959, his corps assembled next to Reilly Raiders in an Acme parking lot for the parade down Germantown Avenue. He knew instantly he would become one of them. In 1961, he left Yearsley to join the Ridley Park Rangers to compete on the field. The corps went to the national championship contest in Minneapolis, Minnesota the following year, launching him into a level of competition that he had never before known. When the corps ceased operations in late May 1964, he and a dozen friends joined Reilly Raiders. It was too late in the season to learn the drum parts, so he marched in the rifle line. The following year, Reilly introduced a drum line featuring five snares and five tenor drums, which was undefeated that season. He served in the United States Air Force from 1966 to 1970. He rejoined the Reilly organization in 1994 when plans for the Reilly Raiders alumni corps were being finalized. He became director of the board in 2003, helping Reilly advance to a new level of activity including its first appearance in this year’s Drum Corps Associates (DCA) Alumni Spectacular in Rochester New York on Labor Day weekend. Also in 2003, he organized a meeting of 23 alumni corps to create an association. The business model introduced then is still effective and is being used in reviving Alumni Drum Corps Associates.

Since its founding in 1976 by the late Vince Bruni of Rochester, New York, membership in the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame has grown from six charter members to 453 regular and associate members from the United States and Canada, who have contributed to the activity across North America, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, the Middle East, South Africa and Japan.

The World Drum Corps Hall of Fame is a non-profit organization honoring those individuals who have contributed significantly over many years to the development and continuing excellence drum and bugle corps activity. The organization also seeks to preserve the history of the drum and bugle corps movement in North America by selecting a noteworthy junior and all age (senior) corps of the decade.

Posted by on Wednesday, June 1st, 2011. Filed under Current News, DCA News, FrontPage Feature.