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Inside the Arc
“Echo – Schmecho”

It’s a blazing hot Sunday afternoon in 1962 and a couple of thousand of us are watching the Garfield Cadets challenge Blessed Sacrament for bragging rights to Jersey and the rest of the civilized world. They build a massive company front, push it forward to the very edge of the sideline and high mark time […]

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Inside the Arc
“This Is Your Brain On Drums”

Percussion General Effect has been around a long time. In his book “The World in Six Songs”, Daniel Levitin (“This is Your Brain on Music”) poses the following scenario describing why our ancestors who could drum held some distinct advantages: A small group of early humans are asleep in the pre-dawn, near the embers of […]

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Inside the Arc
“Abe, Charles and the Alumni”

This year marks the bicentennial of the births of two extraordinary individuals, each of whom represents a legacy and a point of view that has shaped modern times. Their relevance and influence are clear and undeniable: Lincoln reminds us of our heritage and a people’s need for leadership that is strong yet wise and compassionate. […]

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Inside the Arc
“Bugles, Blasphemy and the Baptist Church”

It’s a marvelous tale, spun out in classic Homeric fashion by a master story-teller. Before your very eyes, an entire neighborhood of colorful characters parades by in the saga of an inner-city kid with a disability who not only discovers his life’s true passion but a ticket to ride out of a dingy back alley […]

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Inside the Arc
“Drums and Bugles 101”

It’s just before sunrise on a summer morning in 1861 in New York Harbor. A solitary bugler, having been roused by the corporal of the guard sounds the brief series of notes that will, in a matter of minutes, summon all the other buglers, drummers and fifes to assemble for the playing of the Reveille […]

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Inside the Arc
“…. and the Trouble with Amps”

So, does anyone get the amplification thing right? Well, sort of, but not really. It’s almost impossible, and here’s why: 1) Current logistics promote (virtually guarantee) frequent failure. Performers will routinely take an hour or so off stage to warm up, tune and stretch but are then allotted about 180 seconds to access power, place […]

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Inside the Arc
“Vocals, Narration, and the Trouble with Amps”

To begin with, full disclosure: some of this is my fault. In 1977, Rich DeCola and I heard Joel Kaye’s New York Neophonic Orchestra (a kind of Kenton-meets-Maynard group) perform “I Don’t Know How to Love Him”, the signature ballad from Jesus Christ Superstar. It rocked, and seemed a natural for Garfield’s book as we […]

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Inside the Arc
“Old School/New School – Earning Your Ancestry”

Twyla Tharp has written a fascinating book. You ought to know who she is, especially if you are interested in the great debate over the past and future of Drum Corps as we know (or knew) it. Actually, any thinking person should know lots of strange-named folks, like Ezra Pound for instance or Dweezil Zappa, […]

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Inside the Arc
“Once Upon A Time” meets “Someday”

(The basic facts of this particular story are true. Variations have played out throughout the land for years. May it ever be so.) Once upon a time, in a more or less remote corner of the drum corps world, a group of good folks convinced the local law enforcement authorities of the benefits to the […]

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Inside the Arc
“The Girls of Summer”

One bright May morning in 1958, a cub scout stood on 221st Street in Queens, in front of Sacred Heart Church, awaiting with great anticipation the start of the annual Bazaar Parade. His uniform was meticulously pressed, and the gold piping matched the polished Rexcraft G Bugle he proudly carried. The scoutmaster had asked him […]

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