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jwillis35 last won the day on October 12 2016

jwillis35 had the most liked content!

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About jwillis35

  • Rank
    DCP Fanatic

Profile Information

  • Your Drum Corps Experience
    No Corps. Performed with the Warren Jr. Military Band from 1977 - 1981
  • Your Favorite Corps
    Bluecoats, Cadets, SCV, BD
  • Your Favorite All Time Corps Performance (Any)
    Garfield Cadets/Cadets - 1984, 1987, 1993, 1995, 2000, 2011 ; Santa Clara Vanguard - 1985, 1987, 1988, 2009, 2016; Blue Devils - 1982, 1984, 1988, 1996, 2014, 2015 ; Bluecoats - 1988, 1989, 1995, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2014, 2016 ; Phantom Regiment - 1984, 1987, 1989, 1996, 2008 ;
  • Your Favorite Drum Corps Season
    1984, 1987, 1990, 1992, 1995, 2000, 2003, 2011, 2014, 2015, 2016
  • Gender
  • Location
    North Canton, OH
  • Interests
    I'm a professional trombonist, music educator, love drum corps, band, jazz (combo and big band), composition, drill writing, and attending great music concerts. I also love Golf, Web Programming, and Travel.

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  1. Cavaliers v.s. Bluecoats

    Blooo to me seems to have the edge and the higher ceiling. Cavaliers had a strong visual package last year with incredible guard, but I had a difficult time getting over the poor music construction and the choppiness of the show. I did not feel they deserved to beat Bluecoats at finals, but that's just an opinion. I wish both corps well (as I do with every corps out there) but I believe Bluecoats will be special this year. :)
  2. Cadets v.s. Boston Crusaders

    Very true. What the Cadets are going through now does pale. It really has more to do with transition. Hop may not be retired yet, but as we often see at the end of careers it can be tough as one gets older when you are trying to hang onto greatness, yet innovate, yet also real in the talent needed to perform at that high level. The last 2 years were clearly a step down for the Cadets (by comparison to what we have typically seen from them). So they have definitely been trending down. People can say they will bounce back, but it's not easy to do. It took the Cavaliers a while. Look at past perennial top 5/6 corps like Madison, Phantom, and even SCV had a long skid from the top 3. Boston clearly seems poised to challenge those in the top 5. This may be their time.
  3. All time shows: The Cadets

    ...and my top 5 all time Cadets shows are: Appalachian Spring (1987) - Perhaps the quintessential show that encapsulates the Cadets style. The show had it all and stands the test of time. West Side Story (1984) - Another true classic DCI show that wowed anyone and everyone who saw it live. Angles and Demons (2011) - Near perfect design with excellent performance captions and a heart-warming ending. We Are The Future (2000) - Pageantry and power were combined with showmanship to create this classic. The last 3rd of this show is something to behold, and live in person it had you on your feet. To Tame The Perilous Skies (1992) - It was a late bloomer during the season, but the design of this masterpiece is undeniable in my book.
  4. All time shows: The Cadets

    Tough one for sure. The Cadets are one of the great all-time historical drum corps. Plenty of great shows to choose from. By Decade I vote them this way: (I will leave the 50s, 60s, and 70s to those with better knowledge) 1980s 1987 - An almost perfect show by any standard 1984 - The best West Side Story ever with the classic ending of Tonight. 1983 - Mass and Rocky Point Holiday. First title and some sweet drill including first Z-Pull 1989 - Les Mis 1982 - Gershwin and Rocky Point 1990s 1992 - To Tame The Perilous Skies was a killer show. Guard, design, drill, music, it had everything. Didn't win and at one point of the season was running 6th place, but the Cadets mounted their trademark charge and brought to life a true drum corps classic. 1995 - Perhaps my favorite patriotic show of all done by any drum corps. The ending of this production brings tears to my eyes. LOVE LOVE LOVE the music from this production. All John Williams. 1993 - In the Spring was complex and perhaps the quintessential show from the run n gun (whiplash) era. Talk about speedy and complex drill and music. 1998 - Clean, impressive, with wonderful pageantry. Love the drill writing! WOW. 1990 - A wonderful look at Bernstein's classic scores with elements of fun, cute, comedy, and a flashback of the Z-pull with a twist. 2000 - 2009 2000 "We Are The Future" show is a classic with fantastic music, drill, guard, and a very showy percussion section. 2001 is often unheralded, but it features a killer brass and percussion line, some classic Cadets drill, and the closer is goosebumps. 2009 - This was another redo of West Side Story, but it was quality all the way. In fact, I like this version better than 1994 but not as much as 1984. The closer with its' tribute to The Cadets 75th anniversary is well done, and the running company front and classic speedy drill at the end is fun stuff for sure. 2005 - No doubt one of the better Cadets corps in terms of technique, cleanliness, and the show was daring and risky for the time. The ballad really shines in this show - as does the percussion feature. It remains to this day THE ONLY CORPS to sweep all captions and sub captions at Finals. 2007 - As others have said, I have been up and down with this show. There is absolutely no doubt that the technical ability of this group might have been the best on the field that summer. They were expected to win DCI after winning the Stanford show the weekend before Finals. The brass was UNREAL. One of the Cadets best lines -- and they have had many great lines. A powerful line. The music is fantastic! The drill was classic Cadets speed and complexity. The guard was outstanding, and the closing drill was amazing. Even the classy Blue Devils media team (who was blogging finals that night) described the Cadets ending as "having put on a fireworks display." Sadly most people found the narration too much to deal with. That coupled with "hash-gate" unfairly turned the Cadets into the enemy to many a fan who disagreed with Hopkins ideals that summer. Despite all that, even Dennis Delucia thought The Cadets won on Finals night. This particular corps will remain a point of discussion for many years I believe. The show design opened a can of worms, but the quality of the corps was also undeniable. One of the most talented and best performing corps I have seen in the activity. We all have our opinions and the debate will remain. Not a bad thing. 2010 - 2017 2011 - For sure this was the best production for the Cadets of the last 8 years. Quality in every area with brilliant show design. 2013 - one of the best music books we've heard in the last 8 to 10 years. Incredible playing and scoring. Awesome drill too. 2012 - I loved the Christmas show and especially love it this time of the year. It had its' flaws from a competitive standpoint and deserved 4th that year, but as we look back to that show there was a lot of goodness. Love the ending despite the fact that they never got it clean. 2017 - Mass was highly criticized this past season, but to me it was very true to the stage version of Bernstein's epic composition. A bit too literal with too much narration and a tad too much singing. Had Cadets pulled back on the tarp, the narration, and the singing this production could have been wonderful top to bottom. The choir was really amazing but just needed a smaller role. No 5th place. I am not fond of 2010, 2014, 2015, or 2016. 2015 had AMAZING brass and percussion, but so many mistakes were made by design and staff that I feel a potential 1st/2nd place corps was robbed. 2014 Started strong and the corps was talented, but what they did to that show come Finals was highway robbery. I believe it was the nail in the coffin for what has taken place in recent years.
  5. Santa Clara has done some amazing shows over the years, so this is tough. The top spot goes to the combination of Vanguard's portrayal of Phantom of the Opera. When the corps got permission to perform music from this Broadway hit, which only arrived on the scene in 1987 (maybe 86), I thought it was good that they performed it two years in a row. Both were great shows. I love 1988 for many reasons, but the visual program was better in 1989 and the music arrangements got to the point more effectively. But my vote here is for the combination of the two: 1988/1989. Both shows were the best presentation of a musical I had ever seen at the time. They still hold up today. The show was tuneful, joyous, dark, and majestic and put people on their feet big time. 1985 SCV. This show is still one of my favorites to this day. The music is glorious, and that opener of Festive Overture absolutely rocks the house. I think it's the first time that I can remember such a clever uniform change taking place within the flow of the show. Grover's Corners is beautiful and the closing music of Aaron Copland's Tender Land is classic Vanguard. 1987 Russian Show. Following the success of their 1986 show, the 1987 show was one of the best coordinated shows I've ever seen. Once again we get powerful and well-arranged music, we get theatrical use of costumes and great staging, and we get the power of Russian Christmas Music right out of the gate. SCV and Garfield competed as a 1-2 punch all summer and it was a glorious battle of two of the finest shows I have still seen to this day. When we talk about great battles for the top spot at Finals, 1987 is up there as one of the best. Either corps could have won it all. 2009 SCV is definitely one of my favorites. Based on Martha Graham's ballet and Aaron Copland's music of Appalachian Spring, this show is simply beautiful, subtle, confident, and it brought the house down with the Simple Gifts closer. They took 5th at Finals, but I thought this was the best production of the top 5 corps. I thought the Cadets redo of West Side Story was excellent and maybe my 2nd favorite show, and I enjoyed the others, but SCV was the show of the night for me. Tough call here, but I will go with 1982 SCV. To me, live, this show was killer. The Rimsky-Korsakov was one of the highlights for me, and the closer with inclusion of Bottle Dance put the crowd into an absolute frenzy. In fact, the crowd was so loud in Montreal that I don't think SCV could hear themselves and it hurt the timing of the music at the end. I would imagine that was after the gun sounded though, so no tics for phasing. Once again, this show is classic SCV. Obviously their 2017 show was amazing! I thought 1999 SCV was great too. Very dark and powerful. Their 1998 show was close to winning a title as well, and I know many will love their 2004 show. You can't go wrong with SCV over the years, but from 1972 - 1992 they were the Gold Standard in drum and bugle corps. Three additional shows that should be mentioned from that 1972-1992 era are: 1974 SCV - One of the great champions of DCI. So controlled and musical. 1990 SCV - Carmen was amazing and I loved every second of it 1991 SCV - Miss Saigon was also amazing! I believe they had the highest average placement in the first two decades of DCI competition despite the rise of Blue Devils and Garfield Cadets; and with Vanguard they not only placed high in those first two decades, but they revolutionized field presentation and showed everyone in the activity in the 70s how to put quality shows on the field.
  6. I agree with this. Sadly Star and Cadets didn't give their best performances on Finals night but were still amazing. However, if you were to judge the top 3 from 1993 on today's sheets I think Phantom Regiment would win. The demand factor (which favored Star and Cadets) would be nullified by the clean factor with Phantom. Star's innovative approach certainly have it tops in GE Visual, but Regiment would win GE Music. It would still be close, but I think Regiment by today's standards would win. Back in the 90s, however, we were in the era of "whiplash" drill, or what is sometime referred to as "run n gun." The demand factor played a bigger role vs staging and cleanliness.
  7. As great as Star 93 was, SCV 1989 was a bit cleaner. If we went by today's sheets, Star would win brass (not by a ton), maybe percussion, but their visual performance on Finals night was sloppy (as was Cadets). It rained that night in 1993 and the really hard drills suffered. By today's sheets I think SCV would win GE, Visual and be close in other areas.
  8. Not sure we'd ever see a complete old school show from top to bottom, but I do think we will see many old school elements in modern shows. In fact, I think we've already seen some over the years. To me, the three best things about old school are: logical music arranging that the audience can follow visual programs that flow logically and do not evolve so quickly that one can't follow or keep up powerful G bugles Ok, so no. 3 is likely to not come back. But Numbers 1 and 2 have seen the light of day with some corps. Let's start with the Blue Devils. One of the reasons I have really enjoyed their productions from 2014 onward, and especially 2015 and 2017, is that the music has been arranged to "pull you in." It's logical, has great build and development, and it's primarily been very tuneful. They also took some very simple -- yet hard to pull off -- visual ideas and made them work. The intro to the 2017 show is classic old school with modern elements in body movement, guard (rifles), and how the percussion enter the field. In the last 3 years or so BD has brought back the park n bark and modified it to make it work. Fans from my day used to love the "concert number" portion of a show. Even a short park and blow was considered a cool event in the show. If done right, with the correct staging and music arrangement, it such a park and bark can be a huge boost to Music GE. I also like how musically BD has taken part of their ballad music and brought it back at the end of the show to be part of their closer. It ties their shows together nicely. This was something many corps did back in the day. Also, let's be honest about what the Cadets did in 2015. They went old school in a way with drill and music (at least by Cadets standards). That show was like a 90s Cadets production with the exception of the ballad (visually). They had absolute killer drill and killer music arranging. They had great brass and drums. Despite the fact that they couldn't get the guard integrated, they went dark (not a good idea with that show), and the theme did nothing for the show, they still TOOK FOURTH PLACE. I'd argue they belonged in 3rd. But we have to stop acting like 4th is some bad thing. That show still did well because it featured amazing drill and music and they certainly had the talent in brass and drums that year. If anything, when it comes to today's shows (2010 to present) I feel things have slowed down some. We do not see whiplash drill as often. Being clean is really important with today's sheets. Music arranging is getting better after a period where chop n bop, splice and dice, copy n paste, and effects-style writing were used as gimmicks or filler while corps ran around with their heads cut off like chickens (90s, early 2000s). Obviously staging, body movement, dance, and guard integration are big today. But to me it's how transitions are handled that embodies one of the biggest differences between today and yesteryear.
  9. Best Musical Moments In DCI

    You might want to break down your research or collection by decade, style of song, and/or length. For instance: Best Ballads of the 70s, 80s, 90s, 2000s (music only) Best Openers.....................by decade (music only) Best Closers......................by decade (music only) Best 20 to 30 second clip (music only) -- example: Bluecoats "Boxer" hit in 2008 Best Fanfares (any decade) I don't know. Just thinking out loud here. There are just too many great moments in DCI. It's difficult to break it down without some help.
  10. Cadets 2018

    I feel differently about this. I am not aware of the argument that took place other than what I have read, but to me I never cared for the defending champ going on last. I would hardly call it a time honored tradition -- it was just a tradition that ultimately meant nothing, at least in my eyes. Eventually that tradition was going to unravel when PBS began to change their program coverage of Finals, some years only showing the top 5, maybe top 6 corps. Once that happened I absolutely feel that the top 5 or 6 in that order should get on TV. If this was the case in 1989 with PBS only showing the top 5, then I have no problem with the other 5 directors voting against Madison and telling them to go on in order of placement. That tradition was bound to change, and because some people cling to traditions there is no doubt it was going to cause an argument. It happens, but I don't think there was anything evil or childish about it. Perhaps it was just time to fight that rule and work toward something better and more fair.
  11. I think getting bigger is the wrong thing to do. There is a sense of ELITE classification that we feel and take pride in when watching the best DCI Corps. They are not supposed to be the largest "bands." They are supposed to be the height of creativity, performance, and visual prowess on a football field. Drum Corps International and its' member corps will lose their ELITE and PIONEERING status with larger groups that look like large college/HS marching bands. They will suffer from visual constraints, especially if props are to be used. There is the potential for such a move to harm smaller corps. Bigger isn't always better, and the obvious size difference with some corps (the top 12 or so) might require DCI to readjust its' division classifications. This might create a smaller World Class division, with all else being stuffed into Open Class, or perhaps the addition of a new class.
  12. Full-field tarp?

    Agreed. If those tarps represented the various obstacles in a pin ball machine then you have to go around them. That said, I love BD 1990 and that music book is one of my favorites.
  13. Full-field tarp?

    Never know, we might see one of these soon. Most of the time a corps rolls out a tarp I cringe. The only effective tarp I have seen was Blue Devils' use of the wave effect in 2016. There may be one or two more examples that I am forgetting about. Mostly I find tarps lacking in anything, visual or GE. So I guess if you really want it to be effective you cover the whole field or a large portion of it. I've seen Crossmen use them over the years, Troopers last year, and I just find nothing appealing about them. To me, what Crown did with the banner that flew over the corps in the 2015 show, or their use of the see-through-silk that they used over the brass, is way more effective for visual and GE.
  14. Cadets 2018

    Also, I had no problem with the wording of the new brass staff, in particular "success". I did feel the 2017 show was more successful than 2016. There were some things I would have pulled out of that show, but overall last year was way better in design and the corps ultimately performed well at Finals.
  15. Cadets 2018

    It's a fair question. I think it's because they largely have not had to for so many years. Clearly in the 80s and 90s they were able to attract many of the top people in the industry to come and design, arrange, and teach for them. Some were Cadets alumni, but many were not. But when you can attract the best for such a long time, alumni or not, there was likely no real thought put into keeping their own at home. Also consider that Cadets 2 is a relatively new operation. Maybe 5 years old now? At any rate (and this is not aimed at you, Jeff, but more in general), it's only in recent years that Cadets have had some real staff issues. Some were fired, some left. It happens. Every corps I know (with the exception of one -- BD) has had periods of time in their history where staff change caused a drop off and the corps had to find the next great design and teaching team that could potentially put them back into competition at the level they expect.