1992 was my first year on tour with a drum corps, my rookie year with Glassmen. I had tried out for Bluecoats the previous season, but I only lasted three camps before the ax fell and found me on the outside looking in. Some of my memories:
My first drum corps parade in Appleton, Wisconsin, in full uniform. I didn’t know it until the end of the parade when I saw a bank sign show the temperature, but we just marched in 100 degree heat. It must have been a dry heat, I guess!
Glassmen passing Bluecoats for the first time in years at the Wyandotte, Michigan show. I swear we stood 6 inches taller in retreat block that night.
Wearing literal vinyl tablecloth overlays over our uniform jackets because the corps couldn’t afford new uniforms and wanted a different look. We called it the Spaceman Spiff look.
Hosting Drum Corps Midwest championships for the first time in Toledo and all of us in awe of the lone contra player in the Capitolaires as they came off the retreat field. She could play!
Spending a rainy free day in a Niagara Falls (US side) mall, followed up by the worst tour day of my rookie season when the entire corps was made to do “Dan Acheson push-ups”, basically planks we held until he said otherwise. Dan had caught the whiff of alcohol on some members’ breath as we boarded our buses after the free day and he was not amused. There’s that one day each season I marched when I wanted to go home. That day in Bellevue, Ohio, was it.
Preview of Champions in Nashville, Tennessee. The lower deck went wild for us at Prelims. The upper deck did not. It turns out rehearsing facing the wall of the high school you’re staying at distorts your understanding of how you project your sound.
Breaking 80 for the first time in the corps’ history at DCI South in Jackson, Mississippi. We would make DCI Finals for the first time there next season.
My first birthday show on August 4th at Kings High School near Cincinnati, Ohio. It was the worst performance I had all season. At one point, I ended up five yards away from my actual set, and then panicked while the corps was in a hold (visual silence, as Tom Acheson liked to call it). It didn’t help that multiple vets felt it was their duty to remind me not to do that after the show.
Coming up .1 short of 12th place at Quarterfinals. Brass was 10th, percussion was 19th.
Coming up .1 short of 12th place AGAIN at Semifinals. Bluecoats (11th), Freelancers (12th), and us (13th) each dropped a single tenth from our QF score. Brass was again 10th, percussion was 17th, only because there were no more corps to place under that night.
Watching my first ever live DCI Finals from the stands. Yeah, I was disappointed I wasn’t on the field as well, but I love drum corps and will never turn down a chance to see it in person.
The day after Finals, one of the contras stole a Sidewalk Closed sign from outside of our host school. He smuggled it onto our bus, and then we put it in my car as I drove him home to Shaker Heights before heading home myself in Richfield. I wonder what his parents thought when they saw it?
Winning Most Improved Brass (for the first time) completely unexpectedly. Thank you, Sandra Clark, for taking time during move-ins to work with me and make me a better player. You were a great friend and mentor and the world is a sadder place without you in it.