2011 DCW On-Line: Loveland, Colorado
July 8, 2011 — Loveland, CO . . . Thanks to George and Lynn Lindstrom, and their staff, the Loveland edition of “Drums Along the Rockies” was a huge success and the shows
presented were the most thorough and efficient I have seen since we had the championship in Denver seven years ago. Friday’s weather was ideal, with only a few sprinkles, making it a beautiful evening for drum corps.
After the Loveland High School Crimson Regiment performed the Star Spangled Banner, we had the pleasure of seeing in exhibition the Bishop Grandin Marching Ghosts from Calgary, ALB. I’m always pleased to see a unit from my home country and was agreeably surprised by the quality of the band’s program. They made very good use of a small percussion section and had a small but pretty and effective color guard. The interesting program that was well within the means of the players they had and was overall a very enjoyable performance.
The first competitive unit was High Country Brass, an all-age corps from Denver, CO, playing a musical book of Blood, Sweat and Tears songs. They used a hippie theme in the guard quite adequately, with the tubas wearing bandanas to reinforce the theme. The rifle work in Lucretia MacEvil was nicely done and the double flags during Sometime In Winter was a nice touch, adding some extra texture. The soloists did good work; all in all, it was a fine beginning of the judged section of the show.
The next corps was Revolution, from San Antonio, TX, with a program titled “Ride!” They had a nice opening and the guard used tires in that portion of the show with good humor. They had a strong build to the end of the opener. W ith very good musical and guard work throughout, their show is definitely a crowd-pleaser and was very well received by the Loveland audience.
Gold from San Diego, CA, was next, with their 2011 program called “Reel to Real.” Their gold-colored horns contrasted well with the black tunics. The drum intro was very appropriate, as was the leg work from the horns. The first impact from the horn line was solid and the back and forth response from flags to rifles was original and well-staged. They had a good baritone solo in the slow movement, with effective sword toss and a nice low brass sound in the last number, with interesting rifle and strong flag work.
The Shoreline, WA, Cascades presented “Pandora — A Dark Gift.” The guard has a very colorful uniform and the corps started with a nice, wide-open set with pleasant backfield sound. They had a solid impact from the corps proper on the “rest” set inside the boxes and a nice open guard set, complimented by some solid work as well as good rifle work (especially for so early in the season) and original use of freezes by the drum line in the center on impacts and use of the center orange Pandora box. It was a very enjoyable show that communicated well to the audience.
The Academy from Tempe, AZ, was next. I liked this corps the first time I saw them at the 2004 championship and today was no different. They have a huge horn sound and a crafty uniform that goes very well with the personae of the corps; and they exhibited some brilliant staging ideas, like a center stage drum and rifle line interaction and a series of licks by the trumpets and mellos in succession with the baritone section “calling the shots” by pointing at each section after playing their own lick.
Musically, they demonstrated their prowess in the descent of notes from trumpets to tubas and back up from tubas to trumpets that blew the crowd away. This is a corps that might surprise other contestants from here to the championship, as they have the kind of show that, well-cleaned, could be a crowd-pleaser AND a success with the judges.
Sixteen tubas — WOW! We are used now to that rich, deep lower brass sound coming from the Phantom Regiment, but it seems that this year they have pushed it to the next level. The Rockford, IL, corps is bringing us its “Juliet” show with gusto I haven’t seen from them since they presented their “Spartacus” in 2008 and created a huge upset by moving one position each night and winning it all for the first time.
The “Juliet” color guard, with their burgundy dresses, contrast elegantly with the white corps uniforms and the black “Montague” coat of arms. They already tell the story extremely well (and you can be sure they will add some extra story lines and sub-plots in the weeks leading to the big night). Every detail is pushed to perfection and I think they will give once again the big guys at the top a run for their money.
Santa Clara Vanguard, the next corps, has a knack for presenting programs that push the envelope and this year is no exception. Their “Devil’s Staircase” show is anything but comfortable. They have some very strong elements working well for them: a solid guard, an already-solid drum line. The show is well-exposed and well-staged, with some very impressive visual moves.
Another corps with 16 tubas and another pleasant surprise, was the local Blue Knights. I had seen a bit of what was coming last year in terms of them finding themselves, but this year the efforts have fully come to fruition. So bravo, Marc Sylvester and company, the corps is a delight for the ears and eyes. From the large expanding and compressing block of the first sets, to some very nice staging and work of the guard and their exquisite uniforms and personae, to the choice of music, the show was reminiscent of knights going to the tavern and rejoicing after a hard day slaying dragons and saving damsels in distress.
With this show it seems the Denver corps has indeed found its voice.
I had invited 12 people to that show (most of whom had never seen a drum and bugle corps performance before) and everybody that came was pleased and impressed with what they saw.
John Koed, one of the first-timers, had this to say: “Very impressive and professional; how can 100 plus people be so in-sync and know exactly where they belong on such a large field. Thanks for the invite, my wife and I really enjoyed it.”
Another spectator, Margaret McDavid, wrote me: “You have introduced me to an area of musical competition that I never knew existed. The dedication of the individual corps members, the quality of music played, the precision of each choreographed performance, the perfection of the uniforms and color guard costumes, and the knowledgeable enthusiasm of the audience made for a wonderful experience. The time, money and professional coaching required to prepare each corps for each competition is mind-boggling. Thank you for including me in a most enjoyable evening.”
This makes me extremely happy and willing to promote this contest every time it comes to Loveland. The drum corps activity is doing well and people here are taking notice.