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BigW

Shamrock Festival Review

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I'll start with blaming Jim Fawber for giving me the idea to head out of my vacation planet and back to the Drum Corps Planet outside of Philly for the Reilly Raiders Shamrock Festival. That, and knowing that the Yankee-Rebels were going to shut down there. I've got some friends, corps-mates and mentors who have baan a part of the Rebs, and I figured it'd be good to be there out of respect.

I made a day of it. I took a run down to the Simeone Foundation Museum that afternon before the contest to take a look at some fantastic historic racing cars:

SimeoneShamrock2010040.jpg

SimeoneShamrock2010030.jpg

Now- one may ask- why share these photos? It occured to me that these cars are much like the Corps I was about to see- beautiful vintage historic race cars that competed and succeeded. Each is distinctive and has it's own special character- Reilly's like that Aston-Martin- green, fast, a winner- And that Ferrari's like the Cabs- bold, passionate, brash, tough, and part of a great tradition that still goes on.

I got there a bit early, and parking at Hatboro-Horsham HS was a bit tricky. Most of the participants travel in their own cars, etc., very few busses, so parking was at a bit of a premium, but I'm quick, and my glasses are thick enough to spot the open spot and get it before a couple of SUV's hunting around like I was did.

I was lucky enough to easily grab a seat in Row 2 center right behind Tony/TennTux. I think a lot of folks must have been afraid to get their faces ripped off or something. What's there to be afraid of, huh? Tony stood for years in front of Sun, so he knows all about that and is into it, and I figure standing inside a Westshore Horn Line for six years and in front of enough HS Bands has immunized me.

The Raiders got a good young lady to perform the National Anthem- she was a heck of a sight better than whatever recording star/celebrity they got to sing it at the Mid-Ohio races I was at the last weekend.

Of course, Reilly's Color Guard was there with the colors and looked tough- a old-school Drum Corps tradition that was well in abundance at this show:

SimeoneShamrock2010051.jpg

Archie took the stage first, and performed a repertoire that spanned several decades of their history- good Baritone solo work and a nice rendition of "I Have Dreamed" from the "King and I" made for some good moments.

If I'm incorrect, kindly correct me, I didn't take notes or get a program, but I do believe they had a large percussion ensemble come out at this point performnig the classic "Grey Ghost" cadence with representatives from just about every performing group at the show. The only issue was that it was so short- luckily, some of the crowd asked to hear it again, and they kindly obliged. It was great to see so many of the guys from different groups get together and perform at that high of a level.

Q: Does John Flowers still have the chops? :thumbup:

SimeoneShamrock2010053.jpg

A: YOU BET. :thumbup:

SimeoneShamrock2010054.jpg

Sorry I wasn't able to get some better pics of John, my camera wasn't up to the snuff like Tony's was and it needs a lot more light, which I did manage to get for a few pics.

Larry Kerchner's Swing House is adding to it's repertoire, and getting stonger and stronger as they perform together over the years. Fantastic soloists, solid arrangents and original compositions by Larry, and a beautifully sublime percussionist that interacts perfectly with the brass make Swing House well worth listening to.

Next on- the Hanover Lancers, who looked sharp, played strong, and filled the auditorium rather nicely, and performed a marvelous Frank Dorritie arrangment of "Men of Harlech" that provided a nice show highlight with a lovely Irish Tenor soloist! The Lancers are a good mix of young and veteran members, and more than held up their end of the show.

(continued below)

Edited by BigW

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Hey watch that blame or you'll be the next one having their picture taken with a rubber chicken :thumbup:

Glad ya made it, I couldn't see the audience that well and left after Rebs tribute due to early start Sunday morning :thumbup: .......

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Hey watch that blame or you'll be the next one having their picture taken with a rubber chicken :thumbup:

Glad ya made it, I couldn't see the audience that well and left after Rebs tribute due to early start Sunday morning :thumbup: .......

Oh, a pic was taken, Jim.... :thumbup::thumbup:

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The end of the first half was the final performance of the Yankee-Rebels. I know this was pretty tough on those involved, but, they went the way they wanted to, which I think was really important for all involved. They served up their typical fare of Southern-Fried Drum Corps arranged they way it should be by Larry Kerchner, and they performed with an admirable poise and focus when all was taken into account.

A picture of Phil Gentile on the podium, a real gentleman of the activity- he's fronted the corps with poise, energy, and enthusiasm. Again, sorry if things are a bit dark in the photo. His conducting was wonderful and spot on in this performance, no doubt about it: :thumbup:

SimeoneShamrock2010060.jpg

Danny Fitz (It was Danny, yeah!??) Was his usual self, playing beautifully as well: :thumbup::thumbup::thumbup:

SimeoneShamrock2010058.jpg

I didn't get a good shot of Ray Eyler, but I didn't want to forget his ironman performance this evening- He gigged with Archie, the Rebs, AND Reilly at the end. Ray was my first Horn instructor at Westshore, and he had a good evening on Soprano. I don't know how he kept his lips on, though. great work for Y-R, Ray!

In any event, after a heartfelt, deep, and sincere speech from Larry Kerchner, the Rebs finished up with their current version of Truman Crawford's "Requiem for an Era"- a good and fitting way to finish their final appearance.

To finish the first half, representatives from the other corps came out to play "You're a Grand Old Flag" with the rebs in a mass formation that filled the auditorium- Well over 200 brass players rocked out the place, and the various Main Guards from the corps also represented themselves. Needless to say, being in Row 2 behind Tony was rather heady at that moment....

SimeoneShamrock2010069.jpg

And yes- please copy this shot! You have my permission!!! The gent in the picture was so stoked to get a closeup like this I'm glad to have taken something cool like this for you! :thumbup:

I'm glad I went- knowing people like Ray Eyler, John and Barb Flowers, John and Julie Close, Danny Magsamen, Ron Church, Norm Selak, and Al Beran, Mike McCann, John Boldt, Doc Parker--- all of these folks I've either marched or judged with who all performed in one version or another with the Rebs over many decades--- It was just good to be there when it was done, especially for Norm and Al (RIP), who I think of more often than people realize.

The Rebs were incredibly important in their era for their wonderfully well thought out shows that brought a more thoughtful angle to DCA, and then became important for really developing the alumni corps concept from the ground floor along with a a couple of other groups and demonstrating by their actions that it could be successful and sustainable.

As sad as some think it was, it was moreso a happy ending, I believe. I felt a lot of pride coming off of that stage and heard some fantastic music from them that evening. It was an uplifting performance from my viewpoint, an affirmation of what is right and good in this activity. Part of me is sad they're not going to be performing like this again, but I was lifted up by their performance far more than I was brought down by the finality of the situation. I hope everyone there thinks of it in that way, and I encourage you to.

I'll cover the second half of the program later today. It's 2 AM, and I'll think about what to say over some sleep, and after thinking about how Norm Selak sat Chumley and I down in his van after a tough session of our first corps camp during a break and made us feel like we should be there and we were part of the Westshoremen. It was then I found out he was an ex-Reb, (That huge white-and-orange badge on his straw hat was a dead giveaway...) and he daggone let me know he was really proud to have been a part of the Rebs, and in his way, let us know he was proud to be a part of what was going on at Westshore and that we should be, too. Be back later today to wrap up the review. :thumbup:

Edited by BigW

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Great review, BigW... thanks!

I agree with you 100 percent about Phil.... what a gentleman and a class act. Great leader of that corps, and a terrific personality as a drum major.

That "massed horn line" tribute was wonderful.

And you're right.... only fitting that the Rebs ended their show with the "Requiem" finale. For my money, for many years that has easily been one of the most recognizable, time-honored, memorable, stirring endings in the history of drum corps.

Edited by Fran Haring

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Oh, a pic was taken, Jim.... :thumbup::thumbup:

OK, you were near Tony.... so pic taken goes without saying. :sad:

Very cool massed brass pic... first I thought it was Photoshopped until I remember how close you were to the front. I was well to the right of this group and hope someone got a shot from the back. MAN was it crowded and honored to be part of it....

Edited by JimF-LowBari

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For those of you who were on the inside, you missed an extremely classy act performed by our brothers and sisters of the Hawthorne Caballeros. Just prior to our taking the stage, The Hawthorne Caballeros marched down toward the rear door to the stage and lined up single file on each side of the sidewalk to salute the Rebels as we marched between them to take the stage. I have never been prouder to be a Rebel and former Caballero than I did that afternoon. It was tough to keep a dry eye as I marched through the Cabs presentation. It was one of the classiest acts I have ever seen in my drum corps career.

I would be amiss if I also didn't mention the fantastic send off that our hosts, The Reilly Raiders gave us. We could have not have asked for a better send off. I really loved their little addition of Dixie towards the end of their performance. Just the right touch. Thank you for your gracious hospitality.

Gus

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Wow! I realized that last pic I posted tirned out WAY better than I'd thought. You have Phil Gentile, Larry Kerchner, and Frank Neill up there in the background, and their smiles say everything they need to say about the event.

So far, I've only covered the first half of the Festival.

How do you top what ended the first half?

Easy Answer- the Cabs Alumni. They were short a few horns- so what? THey filled up the auditorium and still punched everyone in the jaw. And, they didn't over-play to do that, either. POW!

Q: Was Jimmy Russo stoked to be up there?

ShamrockFestival2010005.jpg

A: Yep. You Bet. :sad:

Put this cat in the Wiki under "Arse-kicking soprano bugle soloist", please.

ShamrockFestival2010001.jpg

And I've already called out their Mello soloist in my Bucknell Review, you know how I feel, and I still feel that way: :thumbup:

SimeoneShamrock2010073.jpg

The more I listen to their "Man of LaMancha" opener, the more I like it, by the way. I've always loved the tune for semi-obvious reasons, but Larry's arrangement's as classic and as fun as a ride on the Thunderbolt at Kennywood Park. I'll jump in line and listen again when I have the chance.

I'm uncertain if it was the Brassmen or Blessed Sac that went on next, please forgive me. It was the first time I'd seen either. The closest I've gotten to it was in the early 90's when I had the pleasure of listening to a gentleman at DCA I and E in the early 90's who did a nice job on Soprano with " 'Till There Was You."

It was great to see the traditional-style guard doing its thing, and they were solid. (MaryAnn, was that you in the guard, hon!?) They performed a period repertoire that incuded a solid arrangement of "National Emblem" and also an arrangement of "House of the Rising Sun" that I particularly enjoyed.

Now- the real discovery of the night were the Brassmen. I mainly knew about them through doing some judging with Barry Swain, an extremely elegant and classy guy, God Bless him. So we have an unknown quantity that I'm rather curious about....

Frank Neill goes through the intro, the curtain opens, and hmmmm... yeah, 13 horns and about 10ish percussion and a 4 person visual ensemble. I'm thinking, okay... this could be interesting, let's see what they're gonna do, and let's see what these cats have in their pockets.... the Drum Major counts off, and....

POWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!!!!

HOLY *@&( !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :thumbup::thumbup::worthy:

WHOA!

Those 13 people on horns totaled everyone in the audience. Every one of those people play like fire-breathing beasts, they don't over-play, but they're getting absoloutely 100 percent out of their horns in the way you want them to draw out that 100 percent. Their percussion is extremely tasty and interacts wonderfully with the brass ensemble.

Most of their show was comprised of rock-hard arrangements from the TV show "Mission:Impossible" that were extremely well-structured.

Their soloists- well, their Drum Major does a splendid snare interlude, and this guy on Bari...

ShamrockFestival2010007.jpg

Let's just say I need to practice my Bari a lot more. I still consider myself a student of the activity and of brass playing, and I learned a few things that, maybe if I work harder at, I can add to my bag of tricks. All due respect to this cat! :thumbup::thumbup:

I know they're out there for the sheer love and fun of it- but as I told one of them after the contest- they could easily go to the Mini-Corps competition in DCA doing exactly what they did on that stage and they certainly wouldn't embarass themselves at all. My educated guess is they'd do quite well, even if they just went up there for the heck of it.

I just hope I can see the Brassmen again in the future, and that perhaps some more indoor shows will have them in as guests. Seriously- It's worth going to a show like this just to see these guys.

Finishing the show was, of course, the Reilly Raiders, doing their old-school Celtic-flavored Show.

Q: Ray Eyler was on stage with his THIRD corps. Did he still have some nitro left for his dragster?

ShamrockFestival2010008.jpg

A: Oh yeah, he did, baby.....

What's fun about Reilly is the fact they're very relaxed about performing and unafraid to light it up with their music. THey jump right in and attack their charts, and it's always good to listen to a corps that's not apologizing for the notes coming out of the bells.

They finished up with a sing-along of their signature tune, which was a lot of fun.

Luckily Dickie Adams, who's in Reilly and was in the old Westshoremen and Chocolatiers, gave me good directions to the party afterwards at the K of C where Reilly operates from- they know how to party, and I got to hang with Tony and his wife for awhile, and meet some great guys from Reilly and the Rebs.

I do have to say the Cheesesteaks rocked, the prices were reasonable, and it was just GOOD to get to a good corps party with corps people again.

Now-- after all of the good stuff I've said, and it WAS good, I don't want anyone thinking I'm some kinda shill and will only talk about good things. The parking was a bit dicey, so if you go to the Shamrock Festival, get there early, make sure you know where the K of C is so you can have fun at the party afterwards, and the one thing I might poke at a bit was that it was a fast 5 hours, but, it did take awhile (understandably) to get corps situated behind the curtain and the seats properly arranged and the drum sets, etc. for those groups who sat, and it did run from 5 to 10 PM, which is a long time for some folks! Frank Neill did a wonderful job as the Emcee in that tough situation, and the seats were really comfy, which also was a big help.

Overall, though, do I recommend going next year to the readers?

Absolutely! Be prepared to get there early, be prepared to spend a good amount of time enjoying a lot of varied and fine drum corps, and enjoy the ambiance of the event. I'm certain 2011 will be just as fun and exciting!

Well, I'm back to Vacation Planet now-- I'll head back into orbit on Saturday, whee I'll make a day of it and zoom up the NE extension to Scranton for the DCA show there and see what's up with the cast of DCA characters and find out just how much they've improved since Bucknell, and see who might have some momentum heading into Finals....

Edited by BigW

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Wow! I realized that last pic I posted tirned out WAY better than I'd thought. You have Phil Gentile, Larry Kerchner, and Frank Neill up there in the background, and their smiles say everything they need to say about the event.

So far, I've only covered the first half of the Festival.

How do you top what ended the first half?

Easy Answer- the Cabs Alumni. They were short a few horns- so what? THey filled up the auditorium and still punched everyone in the jaw. And, they didn't over-play to do that, either. POW!

Q: Was Jimmy Russo stoked to be up there?

ShamrockFestival2010005.jpg

A: Yep. You Bet. :sad:

Hey Big W

Barry Swain and I were buddies and both marched in St. Rita's Brassmen back in the day. Glad you enjoyed our performance. :thumbup: Check out Fleetwood 1969 World Open and 1971 US Open if you never heard us in our youthful days of jr drum corps :music: .

HB

Brassmen Alumni Corps

Percussion section

Put this cat in the Wiki under "Arse-kicking soprano bugle soloist", please.

ShamrockFestival2010001.jpg

And I've already called out their Mello soloist in my Bucknell Review, you know how I feel, and I still feel that way: :thumbup:

SimeoneShamrock2010073.jpg

The more I listen to their "Man of LaMancha" opener, the more I like it, by the way. I've always loved the tune for semi-obvious reasons, but Larry's arrangement's as classic and as fun as a ride on the Thunderbolt at Kennywood Park. I'll jump in line and listen again when I have the chance.

I'm uncertain if it was the Brassmen or Blessed Sac that went on next, please forgive me. It was the first time I'd seen either. The closest I've gotten to it was in the early 90's when I had the pleasure of listening to a gentleman at DCA I and E in the early 90's who did a nice job on Soprano with " 'Till There Was You."

It was great to see the traditional-style guard doing its thing, and they were solid. (MaryAnn, was that you in the guard, hon!?) They performed a period repertoire that incuded a solid arrangement of "National Emblem" and also an arrangement of "House of the Rising Sun" that I particularly enjoyed.

Now- the real discovery of the night were the Brassmen. I mainly knew about them through doing some judging with Barry Swain, an extremely elegant and classy guy, God Bless him. So we have an unknown quantity that I'm rather curious about....

Frank Neill goes through the intro, the curtain opens, and hmmmm... yeah, 13 horns and about 10ish percussion and a 4 person visual ensemble. I'm thinking, okay... this could be interesting, let's see what they're gonna do, and let's see what these cats have in their pockets.... the Drum Major counts off, and....

POWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!!!!

HOLY *@&( !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :thumbup::worthy::blink:

WHOA!

Those 13 people on horns totaled everyone in the audience. Every one of those people play like fire-breathing beasts, they don't over-play, but they're getting absoloutely 100 percent out of their horns in the way you want them to draw out that 100 percent. Their percussion is extremely tasty and interacts wonderfully with the brass ensemble.

Most of their show was comprised of rock-hard arrangements from the TV show "Mission:Impossible" that were extremely well-structured.

Their soloists- well, their Drum Major does a splendid snare interlude, and this guy on Bari...

ShamrockFestival2010007.jpg

Let's just say I need to practice my Bari a lot more. I still consider myself a student of the activity and of brass playing, and I learned a few things that, maybe if I work harder at, I can add to my bag of tricks. All due respect to this cat! :thumbup::thumbup:

I know they're out there for the sheer love and fun of it- but as I told one of them after the contest- they could easily go to the Mini-Corps competition in DCA doing exactly what they did on that stage and they certainly wouldn't embarass themselves at all. My educated guess is they'd do quite well, even if they just went up there for the heck of it.

I just hope I can see the Brassmen again in the future, and that perhaps some more indoor shows will have them in as guests. Seriously- It's worth going to a show like this just to see these guys.

Finishing the show was, of course, the Reilly Raiders, doing their old-school Celtic-flavored Show.

Q: Ray Eyler was on stage with his THIRD corps. Did he still have some nitro left for his dragster?

ShamrockFestival2010008.jpg

A: Oh yeah, he did, baby.....

What's fun about Reilly is the fact they're very relaxed about performing and unafraid to light it up with their music. THey jump right in and attack their charts, and it's always good to listen to a corps that's not apologizing for the notes coming out of the bells.

They finished up with a sing-along of their signature tune, which was a lot of fun.

Luckily Dickie Adams, who's in Reilly and was in the old Westshoremen and Chocolatiers, gave me good directions to the party afterwards at the K of C where Reilly operates from- they know how to party, and I got to hang with Tony and his wife for awhile, and meet some great guys from Reilly and the Rebs.

I do have to say the Cheesesteaks rocked, the prices were reasonable, and it was just GOOD to get to a good corps party with corps people again.

Now-- after all of the good stuff I've said, and it WAS good, I don't want anyone thinking I'm some kinda shill and will only talk about good things. The parking was a bit dicey, so if you go to the Shamrock Festival, get there early, make sure you know where the K of C is so you can have fun at the party afterwards, and the one thing I might poke at a bit was that it was a fast 5 hours, but, it did take awhile (understandably) to get corps situated behind the curtain and the seats properly arranged and the drum sets, etc. for those groups who sat, and it did run from 5 to 10 PM, which is a long time for some folks! Frank Neill did a wonderful job as the Emcee in that tough situation, and the seats were really comfy, which also was a big help.

Overall, though, do I recommend going next year to the readers?

Absolutely! Be prepared to get there early, be prepared to spend a good amount of time enjoying a lot of varied and fine drum corps, and enjoy the ambiance of the event. I'm certain 2011 will be just as fun and exciting!

Well, I'm back to Vacation Planet now-- I'll head back into orbit on Saturday, whee I'll make a day of it and zoom up the NE extension to Scranton for the DCA show there and see what's up with the cast of DCA characters and find out just how much they've improved since Bucknell, and see who might have some momentum heading into Finals....

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Thanks, Jim- Pound for Pound, the Brassmen put on a FINE show. It really took me by suprise, and I'm a pretty jaded guy. :sad:

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