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truman

Diners, Drum Corps, and Drives 2015 Edition

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If you like food and drum corps, then come along for a summer of fun!

I found myself in a position to have the summer off again, and immediately started planning drum corps road trips. This portion of the plan was to take advantage of BD coming East for the 4th, expecting to see the champs 5 out of the 6 days they are here. It was extra special when my oldest daughter decided to take a summer off after 3 straight years of marching, and was able to join me for the first part of the trip.
Starting with the summer of 1999, we have taken all our summer vacations around drum corps. As we made our way through the rain in New York and into New England while listening to past BD shows, I remembered all the great times we had following the Devils, especially some of our early trips to see them when they were here around the 4th. I could so clearly see my 2 little girls, dressed in their little devil T’s, toting their custom BD decorated crayon activity boxes into the back seat. Good grief it goes by so fast!
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We made great time to our hotel in Swansea MA, centrally located to BD housing, Foxboro, and Boston.
After a quick visit to the hot tub, we headed north to Boston for dinner. It was a beautiful night as the storm that was following us had not made it into New England yet
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Just north of the city over the Tobin Bridge, on the way to Revere, in Chelsea, is The Newbridge Café. A few blocks from an apartment that I lived in after aging out in 82, the place doesn’t look like much from the outside. They have won Best of Boston awards for their steak/pork/lamb tips, and there is little wonder why. I recommend choosing the salad as the side, the house dressing perfectly compliments the BBQ sauce on the tips, and a half order of their huge hand cut fries is plenty to share. If you are ever in the area, I highly recommend giving them a try!
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After dinner we drove down Broadway in Revere and over to Revere Beach. I was hoping to show my daughter the old 27th Lancer Hall and the back parking lot, home of the 84 Townie vs. Drum Corps massacre, and the parking lots across from the beach that served as our practice fields. These sites have changed dramatically with the construction of townhouses and businesses, and are no longer recognizable. As we drove the familiar route from the hall area to the beach, I remembered what a blast it was living here and marching in 27. We took a little walk on the beach and as the planes flew into Logan overhead, I sensed a disturbance in the force. The Devils were on the East Coast! We found some room for desert before heading back to the hotel for the night.
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NEXT UP….BD in Rhode Island!!!!!!!

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We woke up to thunder and lightning, so we postponed our early beach plan and relaxed at the hotel before heading south to find BD. First, of course, we required a stop for lunch at The Palmer River Clam Shack, along the way on Rt 6 between Swansea and Rehobeth, for clam cakes and chowder...excellent!

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I always love the feeling of arriving at a housing site and finding a corps. That feeling was there when we arrived at Bishop Hendrickson Prep High School in Warwick. We found out at the food truck that the Corps had a flight delay because of the weather, and got in later than expected. I was trying to convince myself based on the times, that they had actually been on one of the planes we had seen last night. There was a system blue camp in progress, with all the campers working with staff separate from the corps. We did not see the guard anywhere, the pit was working in a nice shaded area, and the brass and battery were in a visual block on the field. A nice facility with good room for the fleet to park, and a clean modern looking school. A nice turf surface, but a relatively low box.


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The brass and battery worked visual basics for about an hour. Ski track, rt foot plant for direction change, some high mark time. Basics that even championship corps know are important. They also were repping a weird bowing and running to a meter footwork change.

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As they set the opener it was apparent that the brass would be air and valve for the rest of the block. I intentionally did not listen or watch any online content, (other than renting Into the Woods), because I wanted my first viewing to be live.

So as we watched them work the visual for the opener, i had no idea what the soundtrack would be. That also allowed us to focus on the visual. Loved the snares starting on the platforms, cool pinwheels going on everywhere. I saw an ABC and an XYZ in the drill. A lot of field ensemble cleaning, dot checking and reps of the first half of the opener before they broke for dinner.

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Next up...dinner and some INK!

Edited by truman

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Sometimes you build up high expectations for something only to be disappointed. That would not be the case this night, both with dinner and drum corps. We opted for a second round of Clam Shack, this time it was Tommy's World Famous, about a mile from the school. Words and pictures don't do justice to the tender deep fried goodness of the fresh fried clam strips, served with slaw and fries, and the lobster roll was incredible!

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We arrived back at the school as the brass was finishing their warm up and joining the percussion on the field. They set the opener and I watched the first set from the end zone. I got some goosebumps right away. As we watched them work the opener I was amazed. Excellent staging, cool music, substantial ensemble timing demands. There is a triplet accelerando section that is just sick! As always, expert comments from John Meehan and Rudy Garcia in the box were met with immediate performer corrections and improvement. I always appreciate the BD staff's blend of praise and correction. It is mentioned many times that they have the most talented performers in DCI, but to me the true reason for their constant success is the best staff, and retention of them,in the activity. The field staff was exceptional as well, with many times where different sections work simultaneously on the field. It is always impressive to see how productively every second of rehearsal time is utilized.

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The guard and staff lead by TJ Doucette joined the corps for ensemble block. After the initial chunk up to the Sweeney Todd impact was run with the full-corps, I was thankful I was able to see the section performed in "layers" earlier. Just like the whole show, there is a LOT going on ALL OVER the field. And it is all performed at a very high level. They chunked through the show and I was mesmerized by every rep.

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There are ao many cool moments I cant begin to list them all, but here are a couple that stick out in my memory:

A gorgeous brass sound, excellent use of mic'd solos, a beautiful ballad, strong all male rifle-line including a very cool toss exchange section with half on the towers and half below them, over the top ensemble timing demand, velocity and physical demand from top to bottom, some wicked mello runs at the end of the show, strong pit with kit, and battery. Don't count them out of the Sanford.

Now for some criticism:

Unsure of the K-pop dance thing, particularly the audio. Hip I suppose, but not sure how it fits in the theme scheme. More viewings might help.

I feel old!

Overall, the electronics blend, mostly low end, is too loud at times. I don't understand how we will not tolerate brass sections sticking out of the ensemble, but live with excessive goo?

Sometimes the brass moving the props seems labor intensive based on their body language, Everything BD does usually is made to appear effortless.

The corps did a solid run through. Helped the visual GE that they all were wearing their white system blue tees. Although I haven't seen anyone else live, I know this show will be tough to beat. Can't wait to see it performed in uniform tomorrow!

Next up...Beach and SHOW DAY!

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This is Awesome.

One of my favorite shows on TV, my arteries get harder watching consecutive episodes.

What a great place for food and Drum Corps. Thanks for sharing. Now I need to exercise after reading this.

AoE

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The breakfast buffet bar at the hotel is decent. The loud obnoxious lady who loaded up three plates then blocked the 6 people waiting for coffee while she stirred in the 5 creams and ten sugars, is lucky I didn’t tell her what we were all thinking.


We headed about 25 minutes South to Horseneck Beach State Park.

It was free to get on the beach, but $15 to park, not really that bad a deal. Relatively clean, but pretty rocky, especially getting into the water. The surf was strong, high waves, and the lifeguards would whistle you in if you got further out than chest high because of the strong currents. The water was a little cold, but very tolerable.


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We hadn’t gotten more than 20 feet from our stuff to check out the water when a couple bold local seagulls went into our stuff, and pulled the package of beef jerky right out of the food bag. They were fighting over it when I came back to shoo them off. All morning we saw others suffer the same fate. Some Mass Townie tough sea pigeons!


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We left in time so that we could go back to the hotel to change and to get lunch and a dinner that would work in the lot, (no surprise here it was more lawbstah roll), and headed toward Gillette Stadium. I was not surprised that security was tight and that we could not get in to see BD rehearse. We even tried asking if the BD water truck cart would smuggle us through, but we could get no further than the gate at the tunnel in the end zone. A cool BAC and 75 logo were on the jumbotron as BD was working the opener. BAC shirts and peeps were everywhere as we browsed a little around the Patriot Place complex.


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Next up: The Eastern Classic


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As always, I am enjoying the vicarious vacation, vittles and all.

Do you ever get to watch other corps rehearsals? I would be interested to hear what you think.

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We hit a nearby outlet mall before returning to the lot. Kinda strange that many of the stores had some Asian symbols on their price plaques, and that the PA announcements were coming over in what sounded like Japanese? Not much special about the place, but my daughter did get a great buy on a shirt at Adidas.

We returned and parked in the filling lot. I am not sure if they were charging the line of cars going into the lot in front of the stadium, but we got a good free spot in front of the movie theater pretty close to the entrance. A lot of tailgating going on, we enjoyed some lobster and cocktails. My daughter decided to take a LONG trek around the stadium to the warm up lot. (The acorn doesn't fall too far from the tree I guess). I suited up with all my good luck BD regalia and started in as the crowd was roaring approval as Conquest echoed from the stadium where BAC Senior were on the field.

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It was a pretty long hike up the ramps to the 1st level where the souvie stands were. A nice crowd was on hand, and it was a nice cool clear night, perfect for a show. Although a stadium like this has it's advantages, there is of course a trade off. Beer was being served, (at $10-12 per glass), and the food was way expensive. ($7 nachos, $5 hot dogs, $7 sausages) I stopped by the BD souvie "table", (they did not bring the trailer for this visit), and made my way to the entrance to our seats as 7th Regiment were starting.

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As I approached the stairs and entrance to our section, I could see a young lady standing off to the side with her chicken tenders, waiting to enter. I took a spot next to her, and had a good view as 7th was performing. Then to my amazement another young girl crowded right past us and started down the stairs. She went all the way down to about the 6th row. Then others followed. Then 2 guys came and stood right in front of us. The usher for the section seemed very concerned with telling people they couldn't block the entrance, but did nothing to stop the parade of people going to their seats as the corps was performing. Finally a lady at the top row on the isle told people to get back and not enter when the corps were on. When I got down to my seat, the same girl was sitting in it that had crowded past us a minute before. I politely asked her to get out. The rest of the show as a spectator was a nightmare. The parade of people coming in during performances continued. To make it worse, right in front of us were a mom and her 3 kids. In front of them was grandpa, (who had performed in BAC Senior), and his wife and I assume an uncle of the kids. The show for them was over when Grandpa was done I guess. The kids bounced around, talked, whined, stood up, went in and out at least 10 times, DURING SHOWS. Mom was obviously bored as she talked with them, they took selfies, and giggled as they looked at dog pictures etc on their phones. During Crossmen's opener, Mom stood up so grand son good go by her to hug grandpa, then immediately had to get up again as he came back. It was unbelievable to me that anyone could be so oblivious. This went on NON STOP.

Here's some pix, one of each corps that I saw from our seats. As far as a review of the shows, I will leave that to others, as most on this forum watched the webcast I would bet. I will post some thoughts a little later, as we are on our way to watch BD rehearse before ending this portion of the trip.

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Edited by truman

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A few more random thoughts about last night:

Really nice visual GE by Surf to open their show!

Can't help but compare Wild Horses to Triple Crown

Even though I was in prime amp zone, (low on the 40), most corps had decent goo blend management, I think Crown being the best.

That said, several times, for several corps, when only the pit was playing, the amplification was annoyingly too loud.

Powerful moments when Crown pulls the "Enter" banner and then the red cover in the ballad. Dark sound, but still Crown.

Cadets brass seemed very controlled. Really enjoyed the horn segment. Talk about sick mello runs in a closer, good lord! Their battery is playing sick stuff. This show just pounds and pounds on you. They have to feel pretty good about the scoring when you condsider the content and performance sub captions.

I think my friend hit the nail on the head when he texted me about BD's Kpop...

"Ok...if that's not minions chanting lets eat a donut, eating a donut, eat a donut, then what exactly are we being subjected to?"

BD's unis...WOW!!! And that's a good wow. Costuming in guard helps with the story line a lot!

BAC got a loud standing O BEFORE they even started(for obvious reasons). Unfortunately, that was the best ovation they got. Interesting program non the less, I want to see it from higher up as the props block a lot of low level views.

We drove a little out of our way to Woonsocket to make the obligitory post show Diner breakfast stop. Winner ding ding at the Patriots Diner!

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Next up, afternoon pre show BD ensemble block!

Edited by truman

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We slept in a little, (well one of us did anyway), and checked out of the hotel and headed for Bishop Hendricken. It wa nice to make the drive without GPS, as I had learned my way around by now. We got there just as the brass was finishing their warm up and going over to the field. Beautiful blue skies, warm and sunny!

Another interesting rehearsal technique, all the staff was on the field, no one in the box, as they worked a section of the second chapter with particularly challenging ensemble timing. An answer back and forth with the trumpets on the front right stage, and the low brass and battery back left. Then they split the corps up and worked 2 little ensembles, then put it together again. Noticeable improvement!

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The guard joined for a 90 minute block, a "short" ensemble day. They chunked through the show in large segments.I watched in interest as they ran the opener. On the first day they had put down some tape to mark dots for the A B C sets and pinwheels. The were hitting them right on.

Again, a great balance of praise and correction from the staff. The corps was challenged to make sure they used the time, however short, to get better in some way.

I always marvel at the comments made by TJ Doucette. She sees things and makes suggestions that make her the best in the business in IMO. She also made several comments concerning the characterization and story line for the whole corps. At one point, the guard was looking a little tired and less than 100% engaged. She told them that "if they want to be a half ***ed drum corps during the day that they couldn't expect to perform at the level they wanted to at night." No let up for this group, and no reason to believe that they won't be right there for high guard as usual.

A couple of notes about running longer chunk segments. It enables the corps to work on stamina. This time of year it enables you to see how powerful each section can be when fatigue is not an issue. After the last rep of the closer, which was communicated REALLY well, the staff cheered and challenged them to "just do that every time" and "that can never be worse than that again".

After a nice water break, they set up for a run. BD does not gush and go, they take extended water breaks. Very chill, like everything they do.

The run through was awesome. The timing section they had worked on earlier retained the improved performance level. Another thing I noticed was the soloists. I don't think in the 3 days we have been watching that there have been any gaks, awesome consistency! The mello solo in the closer is REALLY nice, she is doing a great job, and they continue to tweak the mic for optimum mix.

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Next up: heading home for the 4th

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