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Really Old Drum Corps

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I would be the last one to say this era's competitors are not as good as the past, that would be a very dumb statement. Just the instruments are far better and especially the participants are much better. What I'm saying about the past is that we had so many durm coorps from the same areas. Just the Boston area had over Class A corps and most if not all had a Class C filler corps to pull from. Most were sponsored by their local parish but that didn't mean that all the corps members were catholic or even members of the CYO. It's just that the corps now don't seem to have the commadery that we had back then and how could they. We practiiced at least 3 nights a week. 2nights instruments and Friday night was drill at some local armory (wnter time) and school football field in the summer. Now I'm no expert in this eras corps but I can't see how they can be that close if they only get together during the summer. Now I know they are together for 2 months but back in the day, we all went to school together and would talk drum corps during study periods, lunch and the walks home. I feel that's the number 1 change from past to present.

Example: Dukes marlboro at one time had A,B,C drum corps and drill teams (250 to 300+ kids) At the end they went to 27 th and Boston (70's).

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This discussion is remarkably civil, given it's premise. Normally it would have devolved into name-calling and blame-assigning by now. This is a good sign.

John Donovan, (DCP's chief exec) asked me some time ago to contribute content on this very subject in an effort to foster a dialog between drum corps generations, so we developed these features:



Both focus on the history and trends of the drum corps experience. We are hopeful the community finds them both entertaining and thought-provoking.

The current performers, fans and drum corps elders likely want the same thing: mutual respect. Knowing the history will promote that. In Beyonce's CD collection you will find several tracks of Billie Holiday.

Frank Dorritie

(St. Catherine's Queensmen '61,'62/Sunrisers '63-'73...etc.)

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You're correct in saying "They don't care/want to know".


You know I love you Elph, but am I missing something? I can't find this statement, or anything to that effect, anywhere in the o.p.'s message. I don't think it's necessarily accurate (or fair) to put words in the o.p.'s mouth and/or to make a generalization like that.

Peace; no personal disrespect intended,

Fred O.

Edited by drumno5
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After reading ironlips post I'm reminded that my other big interest is old cars and was following that a few years before I discovered drum corps. Big difference there is people can compare the differences between the eras of cars without going into slams on eras they are "not a fan of". IOW - never hear anyone saying cars of the past stink because they didn't have automatic transmission, A/C, etc, etc. Or "that's not a real car as it has a DVD player in the roof". :cool: People realize that car makers did what they could with the current technology (in DC this would be piston/rotor horns or skin drum heads). Think if any one would slam earlier/current cars like some here bash earlier/current DC they'd be kinda nuts.

With all due respect to the OP, I always find "Old Drum Corps" to be a moving target based on the age and experience of who ever is talking. IOW - I've seen the "Good Old Days" referred to as anywhere between the 50s to 80s. Then again I just realized the first new car I ever bought (82 Escort.... hey it was cheap) has been an antique for 5 years now. :doh:

Edited by JimF-LowBari
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  • 1 month later...

With all due respect to the OP, I always find "Old Drum Corps" to be a moving target based on the age and experience of who ever is talking. IOW - I've seen the "Good Old Days" referred to as anywhere between the 50s to 80s.

Well said, Jim. We're already seeing corps from the even more recent past (Madison '95 and Cadets '00 come to mind off the top of my head) referenced in reverential/historical terms. The definition of golden age is indeed a matter of perspective.


Fred O.

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Well said, Jim. We're already seeing corps from the even more recent past (Madison '95 and Cadets '00 come to mind off the top of my head) referenced in reverential/historical terms. The definition of golden age is indeed a matter of perspective.


Fred O.

Funny to me as 1993-2003 I walked away from corps for various reasons. Now that's some people golden age... :tongue:

Ironic as had the business meeting last night on the big antique car show this week in Hershey. Ugh.... my first new car (1982 Escort :huh2:) would have been an antique for 5 years now....

Edited by JimF-LowBari
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  • 4 months later...


I, for one, agree with you, except I will go one step farther and state that I believe the drum corps were "real" drum corps, back then. They were real military style "drum corps". They did not have that "band" look that today's corps have. They came on the field from the left end and exited to the right instead of from the opposite side of the field, as bands do. Even back then, we resent our drum corps being called "bands" The one exception was the Preston Scourt House Bugle Band from Preston Ontario. They called drum corps "bugle bands, back then. Their "marching and maneuvering was much more precise and in a traditional military style. The music, in many cases, was even better. The music of corps like the Hawthorne Caballeros, Reilly Raiders, Archer Epler, Syracuse Brigadiers, Geneva Appleknockers,St Josephs of Batavia NY, St Kevin's Emerald Knights from Dorchester, Mass, and many others, was awesome. They didn't march sideways in order to keep the sound directed at the small audience many shows have today. They played to all parts of the field. They had real style and beautiful shows, back then. Today's corps do play some very good music, but that is where there greatness ends. I don't enjoy watching what today's corps have become!

Tom Marquis

Former Satan's Angels Sr. Corps Member

I realize that there are some people out there who are sick and tired of "we" old folks talking about the "good old days." But I believe there are many "new" drum corps people who don't know what went on in the 50's and 60's that helped make this great activity of ours what it is today. Has anyone ever thought "what happened to drum corps in New Jersey?" New Jersey was the center of junior drum corps in the 50's. There were 2 different types of drum corps.....junior corps, age till you were 21 and then senior corps.......21 and up. I may be wrong but there isn't one top junior corps from New Jersey, What happened to the foks who marched with Blessed Sacrament of Neward, St. Joe's of Newark, St. Vincents of Bayonne, St. Lucy's, Audubon Girls Corps, etc. We all know about Holy Name Cadets and they are the only one that kept going but they are now out of Pennsylvania. Massachusetts also was huge in the 50's but right now there is only the Boston Crusaders, what happened to the others.

I would love to get some interest in the past but never forgetting how great the present is.

Thanks and I hope I hear from all of you.

Edited by tmarquis
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I know I'm just isolating one statement from your post but I wanted to respond to this directly. As a New Jerseyian, Jersyite...? I am very proud that, through the entire drum corps activity, New Jersey seems to be the most dominant state today. I can't think of another state that produces more drum corps

I still consider The Cadets, (Holyname Cadets, Bergenfield Cadets, Cadets of Bergen County... etc) to be from New Jersey. Even though they are now headquartered out of Allentown.. they still spend a lot of time in the Garden State and have the most pull.

Here is a list of all the corps across the entire activity that are still headquartered in New Jersey.

- The Raiders (Regular DCI Open Class Finalists, 2005 Champion)

- Jersey Surf (Well know DCI World Class Corps)

- Hawthorne Caballeros (Consistent Top 5 DCA finalists and one of the oldest Drum Corps around)

- Hawthorne Caballeros Alumni (a separate corps with it's own separate membership but same affiliation)

- The Bushwackers (6 time DCA champion)

- Fusion Core (DCA Class A regular finalists and Champion)

- Windsor Regiment

- Bayonne Bridgemen Alumni

8 Drum Corps, each with solid membership. Then add the Muchachos reformation back into it.

Here are a few MORE.

Blessed Sacrament Golden Knights Alumni

St. Lucy's Cadets

South Jersey Vagabonds (Pennsauken/Haddon Heights)

(And lets not forget that the NY Skyliners are in (Hasbrook Heights) New Jersey mostly now.

I am not sure but I think, Melrose Black Hawks, Lumberton Volenteers may still be going.

(and maybe soon the All Girl GrenaDeers may be back again after reunion)

AND almost ALL of them (the one's you have listed AND the one's I added) , within about an Hours drive of each other.

Edited by 2B or not 2B
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  • 4 years later...
Guest Bedford Joe

Being born in 1930, I remember The Very first time I saw, " Lt Norman Prince " at East-Lexington in either 1945 or 1946....    They were Dressed in, Black-Shirts with a White Shoulder-Braid,  w' Matching Pants, and White-Belts, Bloused-into High-Black-Shoes w/ carefully-tied White-Laces....     They all were wearing White-Plastic-Helmut-Liners,  and presented a Striking-Appearance...     They were placed right behind, " The Sacred-Heart-Crusaders ", of, Malden...     While lined up along side what is now, WILSON'S-FARM, they struck-up a version of;  " Stout-Hearted-Men ", making a Sound with their, Chromed-Bugles, unlike anything I had ever heard Before....     I was a Snare in THE-LEXINGTON Drum-Corps, and we were right beside them, just ready to Lead off that Parade....          That Exposure to Their Sound, Set a Course for my Life that never wavered.......   I was age 14, and Eventually worked my way through 2 other Corps, that were Overseen  and Taught by  Paul, Palange, with whom I would also become a Fellow-Telephone-Man w/ MA-BELL, after KOREA....... All Best Wishes from, Bedford, Ma.   10-28-17.       Joe-Damery.    


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