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"Total Shows":

The "Total Show" may have actually been "Born" back in the late 1950's. The olde Archer Epler Musketeers senior coprs did a "King & I" show (Complete with the late Vince Deegan decked out in Yul Brynner threads and bare footed) in 1957, and the olde Jolly Jesters from Toronto Canada did a "Clown" production with the corps attired in "Clown" suits and releasing baloons from them on the "Starting Line". :lookaround:

The olde Connecticut Royal Lancers juniors performed a complete "South Pacific" production written for them by the late great Joe Genero :blink: in 1963 & 64.

Nobody seemed to mind any of this at the time, at least there weren't any "Drum Corps Died" T shirts being hawked at contests. :blink:

Elphaba

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You're right about the total show concept starting in the 1950s. May have even started earlier. Anyway, the Racine Scouts played an entire show of music from "South Pacific" about 1950. Heck, Garfield Cadets played a lot of music from West Side Story in 1962 and what about the Hawthorne Caballeros? They've been playing shows of mostly Spanish or Latin music since at least World War II.

The reality is that both the Madison Scouts and the Chicago Cavaliers did nothing out of the ordinary in 1971 except introduce the drum corps activity to its newest general effect goimmick and that's all it was viewed as at the time, a general effect gimmick. The gimmick was the use of costumes and characters in costumes. I find it difficult to think that this was some great leap in artistic evolution, in fact it was widely despised in the activity during 1971. The only reason that the Cavaliers show is even being discussed today is because of their novel use of a clown during part of their show. This was nothing more than a copy of the Racine Scouts wedding scene which they played out while playing "I'm Getting Married in the Morning" only a year or two prior.

Let's not give these two 1971 shows more credit than they really deserve. They didn't win nor were they all that well received among the fans in the activity. These two shows were discussed at length in the drum corps activity and in publications at the time. The reality is that drum corps at that time was still about drums, bugles and M & M and who did those things the best. G.E. was only a ten point caption on VFW sheets.

When people who marched in drum corps around 1971 talk about the great corps shows of that era, these two rarely come up. It's the great horn lines and the great drum lines that are remembered, not some clown or "Alice" running around on the field.

What did it all lead to? WGI on a football field! What we have today is a situation where the musical members are beginning to get in the way during these artistic performances. Plus there's only so many ways that a musician can bend or hold his body while playing. It won't be long before they'll be playing recorded music and we'll just have 150 or so members dancing and carrying on for ten minutes on a football field. Can't wait!

Let me comment on the role that VFW and American Legion Posts played financially as I think that there's some misunderstanding among those in the activity today. VFW and American Legion Posts were nothing more that sponsors in name only for most of the junior corps in the activity. One had to be sponsored by one to compete at a VFW or American Legion state or national convention contest. All drum corps since the beginning of time had to fund raise in order to survive.

To explain this more simply, after World War I the American Legion rapidly embraced the drum and bugle corps activity mainly as a means to provide color, music and interest during their many convention parades. Field contrests evolved from these parades because in only a few short years there were so many American Legion Post and Auxiliary drum corps in these convention parades that they couldn't figure out who the best drum corps was. With parades being hours long in some cases it was difficult for judges to remember how good earlier corps were in order to compare them to the later ones in the parade. The American Legion solved this problem at their national conventions by having their drum corps "parade" by a reviewing stand set up usually in a football stadium after the parade. Judges would then rate them as they marched by one after the other. Rules evolved from this point.

What I'm getting to is that all of these drum corps that were allowed to compete in the 1920s and early 1930s at American Legion and VFW conventions were those under the direct auspices of an Americcan Legion or VFW post and were composed of WW I veterans. In the later 1930s as the number of American Legion drum corps started to decline, the American Legion tapped into the interests of other civic and fraternal drum corps and created a "sponsored" drum corps class at thier contests. The Kilties were a YMCA organization, the Madison Scouts were a Boy Scout organization, however they could be "sponsored" by an American Legion post to compete in that posts name at a state or national American Legion convention competition.

So there never was a load of money coming from any American Legion or VFW post to any drum corps that was outside of the scope or membership of the SAL, American Legion or VFW Posts membership. And even then these SAL, American Legion and VFW Post drum corps had to do extensive fund raising on their own to survive. For example, in 1950 Racine's American Legion Post 76 voted to eliminate all funding for its own drum corps, the Boys of 76. Funding by Post 76 had been minimal up to that point anyway, so this loss was no big deal. However, Post 76 graciously allowed their drum corps to still use the Post for practice and storage.

Most of the American's Legion contribution to the activity was not financial in the early days. Contrary to popular mythology, American Legion and VFW Posts had many very talented musicians and leaders who were involved with their posts drum corps or band. These guys volunteered their time and talent to oversee the organization of many civic and fraternal junior drum corps throughout the US during the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. In fact the Boy Scout activity utilized the American Legion extensively during the 1920s to help them organize and "train" their drum corps. Also contrary to DCI's continued philosphy, the American Legion and VFW supported even the smallest and least talented drum corps. The American Legion especially embraced the concept that drum corps was a wonderful youth activity and they would do all that they could to contribute to it. As the drum corps activity began to "bite the hand that was feeding it" in the 1960s, American Legion and VFW Posts began to disassociate themselves from the activity and channel their members time and money to American Legion baseball and other youth programs.

About 25 to 30 years ago minor league (semi-professional) football attempted to follow DCI model. There are minor league football leagues throughout the US and it was thought that it would be better to bundle the best teams from each league to form a super league. It was thought that this new super league would draw huge numbers of fans and a ton of media attention. There was little care or concern by these "good" teams about what would happen to the other lesser talented teams except that maybe some day, if they got good enough, they could be considered for inclusion in this new super league. Boy were they wrong! They quickly found out after just a few seasons that attendance didn't increase at all nor was there any increase in media exposure. These "elite" teams begged to be allowed back into their local and regional leagues because they didn't realize the financial gain necessary for them to continue to afford all of the travel and expenses caused by traveling on a national level. In fact even today some minor league football teams have had to turn down the playoffs to determine the national champion because they can't afford to travel nationwide.

Exposure. The drum corps activity today would have to realize 10,000 to 20,000 fans at each of their 50 or so contests this summer in order to get the exposure that the drum corps activity did at just one American Legion national convention parade held prior to WW II. It was not uncommon for these national convention parades to have between 500,000 and a million viewers during the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. Each parade was filmed by the news media such as "Parade Films" and afterward these news reels were shown in movie theaters throughout the US. Attendance at an American Legion National Championship finals during this era was always in the 20,000 to 50,000 range. This is not bad for an activity that used single-piston or even valvless bugles and no color guard except for an American squad of only a handful of people.

I guess what is sucessful and what is better is all in how you look at it. Ford's Model T, as archaic as it was, could be considered far more successful than any of today's models of automobiles because many more were sold than any of today's models, however, todays vehicles are more luxurious and far more technically superior. The big difference between automobiles and drum corps is that even though automobiles have evolved too, it was due to consumer demand, not some group of corps directors jamming their ideas on creativity down our throats. Automobiles are still automobiles, drum corps are real close to not being drum corps anymore. DCI just doesn't get it, it's about the fans! No fans, no drum corps activity. Ironically when drum corps was dominated with non-musicians playing valveless or single piston bugles there undoubtedly were far more people involved in the activity, far more media exposure and far more fans in the stands. It was a popular, thriving activity at that point. Obviously "better" (different?) isn't always more successful.

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Mike their drum line wasn't just "very good".  They took high drums at VFW Nationals in 68 and were undefeated!  That was a killer drum line.

Ken Norman

lol I just realized this thread is 10 years old....lol

I marched from '70-'75 and the change to DCI was welcomed by every marching member I knew. No more inspections, buzz cuts, we had fewer parades, etc. And the music was changing rapidly from Sousa to Holst. A good thing. Defining years for drum corps today.

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Some people thinking that drum corps died in 1971 had nothing to do with DCI. In fact DCI did not exist during the summer of 1971. It was about the show designs of a few corps. There were a few corps that completely changed their way of designing a show. Some people hated it and they had t-shirts made. When that happens today, they just rant on DCP.

DCI did exist in the summer of 1971, it was called "The Combine" which was organized in the fall of 1970. The Combine actually consisted of three regional combines, east, west and midwest. This looser knit organization of three combines morphed into DCI after the 1971 season. Same corps, same philosphy, just a different name.

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DCI did exist in the summer of 1971, it was called "The Combine" which was organized in the fall of 1970. The Combine actually consisted of three regional combines, east, west and midwest. This looser knit organization of three combines morphed into DCI after the 1971 season. Same corps, same philosphy, just a different name.

The "combines" were not national organizations. There was no "combine" championship. DCI was not formed until the fall of 1971.

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The best combines in 1971 were built in Racine, at J.I. Case.

J.I. Case employees would always declare "I'll stand behind every product we build - except the manure spreader".

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The best combines in 1971 were built in Racine, at J.I. Case.

J.I. Case employees would always declare "I'll stand behind every product we build - except the manure spreader".

yer killin' me man

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You're right about the total show concept starting in the 1950s. May have even started earlier. Anyway, the Racine Scouts played an entire show of music from "South Pacific" about 1950. Heck, Garfield Cadets played a lot of music from West Side Story in 1962 and what about the Hawthorne Caballeros? They've been playing shows of mostly Spanish or Latin music since at least World War II.

The reality is that both the Madison Scouts and the Chicago Cavaliers did nothing out of the ordinary in 1971 except introduce the drum corps activity to its newest general effect goimmick and that's all it was viewed as at the time, a general effect gimmick. The gimmick was the use of costumes and characters in costumes. I find it difficult to think that this was some great leap in artistic evolution, in fact it was widely despised in the activity during 1971. The only reason that the Cavaliers show is even being discussed today is because of their novel use of a clown during part of their show. This was nothing more than a copy of the Racine Scouts wedding scene which they played out while playing "I'm Getting Married in the Morning" only a year or two prior.

Let's not give these two 1971 shows more credit than they really deserve. They didn't win nor were they all that well received among the fans in the activity. These two shows were discussed at length in the drum corps activity and in publications at the time. The reality is that drum corps at that time was still about drums, bugles and M & M and who did those things the best. G.E. was only a ten point caption on VFW sheets.

When people who marched in drum corps around 1971 talk about the great corps shows of that era, these two rarely come up. It's the great horn lines and the great drum lines that are remembered, not some clown or "Alice" running around on the field.

What did it all lead to? WGI on a football field! What we have today is a situation where the musical members are beginning to get in the way during these artistic performances. Plus there's only so many ways that a musician can bend or hold his body while playing. It won't be long before they'll be playing recorded music and we'll just have 150 or so members dancing and carrying on for ten minutes on a football field. Can't wait!

Let me comment on the role that VFW and American Legion Posts played financially as I think that there's some misunderstanding among those in the activity today. VFW and American Legion Posts were nothing more that sponsors in name only for most of the junior corps in the activity. One had to be sponsored by one to compete at a VFW or American Legion state or national convention contest. All drum corps since the beginning of time had to fund raise in order to survive.

To explain this more simply, after World War I the American Legion rapidly embraced the drum and bugle corps activity mainly as a means to provide color, music and interest during their many convention parades. Field contrests evolved from these parades because in only a few short years there were so many American Legion Post and Auxiliary drum corps in these convention parades that they couldn't figure out who the best drum corps was. With parades being hours long in some cases it was difficult for judges to remember how good earlier corps were in order to compare them to the later ones in the parade. The American Legion solved this problem at their national conventions by having their drum corps "parade" by a reviewing stand set up usually in a football stadium after the parade. Judges would then rate them as they marched by one after the other. Rules evolved from this point.

What I'm getting to is that all of these drum corps that were allowed to compete in the 1920s and early 1930s at American Legion and VFW conventions were those under the direct auspices of an Americcan Legion or VFW post and were composed of WW I veterans. In the later 1930s as the number of American Legion drum corps started to decline, the American Legion tapped into the interests of other civic and fraternal drum corps and created a "sponsored" drum corps class at thier contests. The Kilties were a YMCA organization, the Madison Scouts were a Boy Scout organization, however they could be "sponsored" by an American Legion post to compete in that posts name at a state or national American Legion convention competition.

So there never was a load of money coming from any American Legion or VFW post to any drum corps that was outside of the scope or membership of the SAL, American Legion or VFW Posts membership. And even then these SAL, American Legion and VFW Post drum corps had to do extensive fund raising on their own to survive. For example, in 1950 Racine's American Legion Post 76 voted to eliminate all funding for its own drum corps, the Boys of 76. Funding by Post 76 had been minimal up to that point anyway, so this loss was no big deal. However, Post 76 graciously allowed their drum corps to still use the Post for practice and storage.

Most of the American's Legion contribution to the activity was not financial in the early days. Contrary to popular mythology, American Legion and VFW Posts had many very talented musicians and leaders who were involved with their posts drum corps or band. These guys volunteered their time and talent to oversee the organization of many civic and fraternal junior drum corps throughout the US during the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. In fact the Boy Scout activity utilized the American Legion extensively during the 1920s to help them organize and "train" their drum corps. Also contrary to DCI's continued philosphy, the American Legion and VFW supported even the smallest and least talented drum corps. The American Legion especially embraced the concept that drum corps was a wonderful youth activity and they would do all that they could to contribute to it. As the drum corps activity began to "bite the hand that was feeding it" in the 1960s, American Legion and VFW Posts began to disassociate themselves from the activity and channel their members time and money to American Legion baseball and other youth programs.

About 25 to 30 years ago minor league (semi-professional) football attempted to follow DCI model. There are minor league football leagues throughout the US and it was thought that it would be better to bundle the best teams from each league to form a super league. It was thought that this new super league would draw huge numbers of fans and a ton of media attention. There was little care or concern by these "good" teams about what would happen to the other lesser talented teams except that maybe some day, if they got good enough, they could be considered for inclusion in this new super league. Boy were they wrong! They quickly found out after just a few seasons that attendance didn't increase at all nor was there any increase in media exposure. These "elite" teams begged to be allowed back into their local and regional leagues because they didn't realize the financial gain necessary for them to continue to afford all of the travel and expenses caused by traveling on a national level. In fact even today some minor league football teams have had to turn down the playoffs to determine the national champion because they can't afford to travel nationwide.

Exposure. The drum corps activity today would have to realize 10,000 to 20,000 fans at each of their 50 or so contests this summer in order to get the exposure that the drum corps activity did at just one American Legion national convention parade held prior to WW II. It was not uncommon for these national convention parades to have between 500,000 and a million viewers during the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. Each parade was filmed by the news media such as "Parade Films" and afterward these news reels were shown in movie theaters throughout the US. Attendance at an American Legion National Championship finals during this era was always in the 20,000 to 50,000 range. This is not bad for an activity that used single-piston or even valvless bugles and no color guard except for an American squad of only a handful of people.

I guess what is sucessful and what is better is all in how you look at it. Ford's Model T, as archaic as it was, could be considered far more successful than any of today's models of automobiles because many more were sold than any of today's models, however, todays vehicles are more luxurious and far more technically superior. The big difference between automobiles and drum corps is that even though automobiles have evolved too, it was due to consumer demand, not some group of corps directors jamming their ideas on creativity down our throats. Automobiles are still automobiles, drum corps are real close to not being drum corps anymore. DCI just doesn't get it, it's about the fans! No fans, no drum corps activity. Ironically when drum corps was dominated with non-musicians playing valveless or single piston bugles there undoubtedly were far more people involved in the activity, far more media exposure and far more fans in the stands. It was a popular, thriving activity at that point. Obviously "better" (different?) isn't always more successful.

Great post, madplaid!!! And very factual regarding sponsorship vs. financing from the various veterans organizations.

Ray

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Did the corps have to be sponsored by the AL or VFW Post or did they just represent the post? The corps I marched with was never sponsored by an AL Post but we did represent them in parades.

Great post, madplaid!!! And very factual regarding sponsorship vs. financing from the various veterans organizations.

Ray

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Great post, madplaid!!! And very factual regarding sponsorship vs. financing from the various veterans organizations.

Ray

I always say, if you want to get to the real answer to a puzzling question, follow the money. In this case the main reason for forming DCI was money. MadPlaid, you may remember those contests at Horlick Field every May where the stands were filled to standing room only and everyone was dressed in their winter coats. That stadium sat 8,500 people and the winning corps would have gotten $150 and every other corps got a sincere thanks (for contributing to the VFW treasury).

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I always say, if you want to get to the real answer to a puzzling question, follow the money. In this case the main reason for forming DCI was money. MadPlaid, you may remember those contests at Horlick Field every May where the stands were filled to standing room only and everyone was dressed in their winter coats. That stadium sat 8,500 people and the winning corps would have gotten $150 and every other corps got a sincere thanks (for contributing to the VFW treasury).

Sure Wikipedia says 8500 at Historic Horlick Field, but that's only in someone's wildest imagination. I've been attending and performing in events there for half a century, and 3000 would be a big crowd.

Every contest there has been sponsored by one of the Racine drum corps.

The last corps show held in Horlick field (in 2008) featured a DCI slate. It grossed 26 thousand, and cost 26 thousand to put on.

The biggest Horlick shows were the July 3rd Goodwill Spectaculars sponsored by the Boys of 76. Others have been hosted by the Kilties (Jr. and Sr.) and the Scouts, but never earlier than late June. The Midwest Senior Association championships were held there on Labor Day weekend in 1965.

The Kenosha Kingsmen staged their Concourse of Champions on Memorial Day weekends beginning in 1964. These were at admittedly chilly Lakefront Stadium and featured both junior and senior divisions. Maybe a thousand tickets were sold for a buck or two and some program ads were peddled. Prize money was apportioned to the participants and the Kingsmen hopefully turned a small profit.

Nobody got rich at these events, and the veterans organizations were not involved.

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