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I'd better get started, and in my typical fashion, I'll start with something I forgot to add from last week. I'll apologize to the Cabs Alumni for forgetting to mention their performance at Scranton in my rush to get it all done. They were their usual excellent selves, and tighter than Wayne, particularly in the lower brass. I do want to know what the Baris and Tubas are supplementing their diets with to get them to play as strong as they did at that performance. They shook the place and really gave some serious added push to the brass. They had a great full sound, a good tight sound, not over-played and spread, and it really added a good dimension to the ensemble.

I picked up my friend and hit the road to Reading. I figured if the Simeone museum in Philly was able to get their priceless likely worth seven figures Ferrari 250 interim Berlinetta out for a live demo earlier in the day as well as one of their original Mercedes Gull-wing coupes, Big Sounds was on barring a get-the ark out flood. The parking crew did a great job in the rain, and that couldn't have been easy for them.

As for caps, I lent my friend my CV cap, took my umbrella and my Carolina Crown military cap, and they kept us dry enough when we needed to stay relatively dry. I figured the corps had been working hard all day in the wet, I could hang tough out of respect.

If my comments aren't as detailed, I also apologize. There was no way I could take notes without them being ruined, so I have to go by memory, and the contest was indeed memorable. I'd seen all of the competitors at least once this season, for some of them as many as 3-4 times, so I won't be as detailed.

Leading off the contest, Carolina Gold. They were much, much improved over Chester, with a more confident brass and percussion performance. At times, one of the baris and Tubas have to remember that they've got other people playing and they don't have to do it all by themselves- that is... unless the others were backing out in certain sections. They know the truth, and they need to make adjustments and make sure of those things for next week. Every person, every note, the entire program. It's the only way to make it happen. They've pulled themselves into a solid 8th seed but they'll need to get those details squared away for Prelims so they have a good, consistent, professional run.

The White Sabres came off as strong, solid, and professional. My friend was impressed with the quality of performance from such a small ensemble, and I told him he should be with the fine job they do. I mentioned that they needed some more spice and flair at Scranton, and I think they delivered on that issue, and the number and seeding proved that they had what it took and that they wanted to put on a quality, inspired performance regardless of the rain.

I mentioned that Fusion felt they had a better run in them from percussion and brass at Scranton. They did. Better enough to propel them into a 3rd seed at prelims better. They know they're in amongst giants now, and I know from experience, there's no better thing to be, regardless where they end up. The feeling that one has when you know you're competitive with the very best draws something out of you, makes you more sharp. they even nicked Reading in Effect visual, which leads me to wonder how much of that was weighted by the Guard, who took top honors. I believe I've discussed how I've been noticing how much more the guards are figuring into the end results of late, and I think this is a positive. I think in the more distant past, they were underrated and way under-weighted in the total score. Again, I can't say enough about the turnaround their Guard's had this season, and it's something they should take deep pride in. Right now, they look like they're ready to make a nice run at Finals weekend and make a strong statement to everyone that they'd better be reckoned with in the future.

Edited by BigW
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I thought the Cabs threw down a very strong performance. Down low, they had the power and intensity I expected. No nervousness or jitters. All meat, no filler. I know the percussion people have discussed the Bucs' percussion issues at this performance, but I'd also think that what I felt was a very inspired performance by the Cabs' battery may have had something to do with the squeeze down to a one tenth gap from a 6 tenth gap at Scranton. My thoughts on this performance were that it would take a massive effort from the Bucs to surpass it. I've never seen the Bucs flinch and I expected a max effort from them later in the contest. We'd have to see.

Cadets2 were better than at Scranton, but still rely on 1-2 individuals in the mid and low brass to pull the cart, and it's extremely frustrating for me to hear it. I do see the hard work and effort from the corps, and I know they're fighting. It's just this feeling that thins justcome up short. I'm also somewhat confused by some of the thoughts I've heard from others about how this program could 'win it all'. I think the program's very thoughtful, smart, and enjoyable- to a point. There are what I believe to be essential elements diluted from the brass book that really leech a lot of the excitement and vibrancy from the program. Kind of like looking at a 1970 Opel GT and then comparing it to a 1969 Corvette L-88. Yeah, the Opel's a cool little sports car, and it kind of looks like the 'vette, but... something's just missing that keeps it from being a real badXXX, and that's where I'm coming from. I think too much was gutted from the book that really makes it engaging and interesting, and only a framework and skeleton remains, and I think they're hoping we as the audience mentally fill in those blanks and toss the babies. :babies:

I really want C2 one day to just gobstop me, throw down hard from the brass section, and shut me up. I'm patient. I'll wait for it. I'll tell everyone here when it happens, and I'll be thrilled. :satisfied:

Now, for the Bucs. They didn't flinch. I genuinely felt as I watched the performance that it was a 'best-effort' shoot for the stars run of the show from them, and I really appreciated that push from the corps. The show's starting to really gel and convey the vibe and spirit that it's intended to. The Bucs charged hard and drove the program. No feelings of hesitancy or trying to just get thought it and not screw up. When I heard the staff yelling in the break before the final push, I turned to my friend and said,

"They're telling the corps to go for broke and that they have nothing to lose, to drive this hard."

They did. I got a chill at the ending, and realized in a very awed way, they may have pulled it off and beat the Cabs, who also put forth a powerful max effort. I don't think anyone on staff or the membership at the Bucs should take blame or feel down about their effort or performance at all.

I'll wrap up with Bucs Alumni later as well as the fistbumps and the 2014 All-BigW Team later. I just wanted to get the core up so some of the corps members and DCP readers could get a quick read, a laugh, a smile, or want to kill me. :satisfied:

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Well played my man. Well played.

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Interesting you should ask about the Bucs Alumni. They had a percussion battery this year, and had some limited drill with a colors presentation. Another nice addition to their repertoire were some really well-written period arrangements from pre-1975 by my guess to compliment the things they normally do from the 1978-83ish era. They did a solid job to cap off the evening, much to their credit.

Before I head to work- another thing I need to mention which was eerily memorable from the contest was when the scores were read off- the silence at the end was spooky as all get-out. No cheers, no boos, just dead-hear the crickets chirp silence. The Cabs quietly shook hands and were excited, but didn't run it in anyone's faces for sure. The friend I took with me for his first DCA show was also creeped out like I was about it. Something I'd never experienced before- ever.

As for Fistbumps for Big Sounds- I got everyone who would normally get one from me at previous contests. I'll get that All-BigW Team up soonish.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Well, I'd better get that All-Big W corps up for 2014 so corps can use it for recruiting. :laugh:

Ground rules: I had to have seen the corps for eligibility, which means I'll apologize to the corps I missed because I didn't get up to Rochester or to the Midwest or South. I'm not gonna pick corps based off video.

How do you get in this insane corps of the imagination? First, a lot of guts, brains and hustle. Second, I try and find groups or individuals from various corps I feel don't get the notice they deserve. Sometimes- I make exceptions, and I do try and say why. Think of this as DCA's All-Madden Drum Corps.

Also, I think of these folks as people I'd want on the field with me if I was out there trying to go for the beans and throw down a performance on the crowd will remember. Whether they would want me out there is thankfully, irrelevant. :tounge2: .

Where to start? How about with the spell-casters, I mean Drum Majors.

I still have Chris Fontanelle from the Cabs for the 3rd year in a row and Dan Detwiler from CV for the second. I want rocksteady people up front. Guys who are arrows ready to be shot from the bow. As much as I love JJ from Sun Devils, I didn't see them this season live! I did find a third individual I think should be up there. The young man from Windsor Regiment does great work and conducts very well. Since this is a corps of the imagination and about fun- The team from Cabs Alumni is also rock solid, and they should be there too.

Special solo peeps: Shenandoah Sound wasn't out- I can't grab Dick Pommerleau again!. I also didn't see Excelsior. There's a reason I take Frank Ponzo, though, even though again- everyone knows the real deal there. Frank kind of passed on the handshake at retreat most of us gave Sun in 1982 when they beat us. I look back on it when I was a 19 year old kid, it was hard, but When Gary Ulrich, our show coordinator said, congratulate them- they deserve it and they beat us fair and square, he was right. I knew it was the right thing to do, and I grew up some that night and am better for it. Frank did the same thing with the Bucs. I also want the fellow from Cabs Alumni that covered Echano on Flugelhorn. I get a one-two punch of absolute cool that way. GAH! I almost forgot the gentleman from White Sabres that's been there for many years! My apologies! He's always done fine solo work, and has a very subtle sense of musicality that makes him a third fellow I want doing this.

Percussion: Fusion's battery takes the Bruni award, and they've come charging hard the past 3 seasons. I have to show them the love here. For the Front Ensemble, Bush's groove was always fine, and they have that laid-back bunch of gypsies vibe that really draws you into their performance. I also want CV's Tymp player. He's got real positive presence.

Guard: Everyone will remember Finals as the big thing this season, but as far as I'm concerned, there's another big story that should well be remembered. Last season, Fusion's guard had issues with a lack of staff at critical moments, and they fought very, very hard to compete. This season, good people were in place, the next thing you know- they take high guard at finals and beat several outstanding color guards in the form of the Bucs, Cabs, and Hurcs. I want Fusion.

I know I've shown a lot of love over the years for Fusion in the All-Big W corps. The problem is, now they're famous. What'll I do for next season!?

Brass: The Bucs' Tubas were quite good this season. Maybe not crazy in your face like the Cabs were- but rock solid when they needed to be. I want the Cabs and Cabs Alumni baris. It can't be "Clean Livin" that makes them play so hard and strong. Being a Bari player, I know better. :laugh: The ones I met with the Cabs were really small people! How are they rockin' the place and flattening the buildings like that!? I'm of the thought that they made the Cabs brass this season extremely special, even by the standards of the Cabs. "Boom, confetti!!!" good.

For the Mellos, The Bucs really did a lot to set the table for the show at some critical sections. More than might be obvious. They also went beyond just playing well- they sold the concept visually when it really needed to be sold. If they didn't totally pull off their feature in the middle of the program to set up the rest of the show like they did, no championship.

I also want the half dozen or so folks at C2 on low and mid brass that played their cans off for the first 2/3rds of the season when everyone else wasn't. I respected the fact they were out there gunning away like pros when everyone else wasn't and should have been. They know who they are, be proud.

Upper brass, I'm going again with CV this season. Underrated a bit? Very possibly. I figure the rest of the folks in this asylum will loosen them up and get them to jam out with the rest of the brass just fine.

I did see some DCI this season- and I do have to say Crown's Guard and the Coats' Brass and percussion really had that real hustle, brains and heart I look for with this as well.

Lord willing, I'll be back for Alumni Corps in 2015 and back on the DCA trail as well. One goal is to try and plan to actually meet some people next year. Or, heck I figure there'll be some more interesting stories to swap at The Brew House after Alumni practice with Fran and the gang.

My best wishes for excellent health for everyone out there, and we'll see you next season! :laugh:

Edited by BigW
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