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I'll get to the corps tomorrow. A few thoughts first

I make no secret I taught Bucs in 2000, but during my time there and after, I never truly felt part of the Bucs family. Part of it was me...I grew up in an environment where cheering for them was bad. Old school Westshore/Reading rivalries colored my thinking, plus I saw the actions of some individuals over the years when people went from one corps to the other. Then, and I know the business of drum corps, after being part of a percussion staff that was not rehired after winning percussion at finals, I just tended to list it as time served. Sure, while there, several folks joked and teased me about hell freezing over, and it was taken as jokes. Some people made comments where I was never sure. That stuck with me. Westshore was on it's last legs, and issues with the then "management" didn't make me feel welcome at home, Kevin Murphy called and said "come teach with us",....what was I to do, say no? Some things said after the staff was gone, definitely didn't endear the family to me. Quite honestly to this DCA, I will always cherish one line Ace Holleran wrote in his 2001 DCA Finals review in DCW

Luckily, that year and for years afterwards, one person always went out of their way to make me feel like a part of the family....Jimmy Gruber. volumes have been written about how classy Jimmy is, and what a great guy he is, I can't add to it. But any time I came around, to his lending Westshore alumni their pit equipment many years....Jimmy always had a smile and a hug.

After Jimmy stepped away, I got to know Bill and Amy Snook. Bill had the incredible task of taking over for Jimmy. It's the PA version of following Cos or Bruni. Amy ran the best shows I've ever attended not called the Hershey Spectacular. She didnt just take care of me because I write for DCW, she knew the day after I got my order form, I'd have a check in the mail. And the one year I forgot, she messaged me to make sure I was planning to send it in! They too made me feel welcome about being part of the family...Amy giving great dirt on some friends like Rook! Over time, my hangups disappeared.

So Friday night, I learned, as the world did that Max passed away. I never met him that I know of, but for the first time ever, I felt like many of the Bucs alumni I saw online felt...heartbreak for the family. How in the world they competed...hell owned...the field in their home show Saturday amazes me. How Bill and the staff kept the corps together was incredible. But as C2, the Cabs and White Sabers lined the end zones, and then White Sabers played for Bucs.....I felt like a member of the family. On facebook for the first ever I even said "we're all good men". I sang the corps song. ( amazed I remembered the words, I never sang it in 2000).

Sunday, I saw all kinds of craziness on social media. cheering the downfall of good people, and people good to the family. In 48 hours, I didn't feel like i belonged anymore. It kind of broke my heart. I just hope for all, time and wisdom will allow people to reflect on those actions, as well as maybe allow me to feel like I belong again. I know drum corps has a business side to it, but there's no reason for people to be ######## about it. Trust me, I experienced that in the fall of 2000.

Time will tell.

Tomorrow....the corps

Edited by Jeff Ream
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After Bucs brass played the National anthem, first up was the Bushwackers! "Forte Piano" intrigued me in the rain a month ago, so I was looking forward to seeing it with time to clean. The synth began with "Piano Man, seeing the corps step off in staggered starts, into pods, then into a full picture.....a timed recorded intro using the voice of Fran Haring played while the corps played backfield, and it was timed to the big hit as the corps turned around for the famous chorus. improvement noted! From there the keys take off with the Entertainer, and it still seemed on the edge to me tempo wise with being able to get full clairty of the 16th passage.the weapons were featured nicely. As the tune chugged on, some balance issues were noted percussion to brass whenever the two groups were on opposite sides of the 50.Lots of section features followed, including the guard, and some nice percussive moments. The keys started Moonlight Sonata, followed by a trumpet solo, and then the upper brass....the guard was on some eye catching flags on side 1......the percussion came in for the hit, and here the "forte/piano" concept really shown through dynamically, probably the strongest moment of the show.

The percussion feature with Chopsticks has some really cool percussion licks and trades battery to pit, but when the battery moves some clarity is lost. There was a nice accel with the tenors and pit, and the guard and brass used piano key props behind them. The show closed with ELP's Emerson Piano Concerto, and again some balance issues caused by staging appeared.The tempo picks with up with a nice follow the leader dril...the isolated brass attacks seemed to need more oomph, but a busy percussion book makes it tough to grasp the downbeats a few times.

Still love the concept, and I'm hoping a good few days of rehearsal in Rochester can bring out more of the hidden nuances I suspect are there. Looking at the recap, I wouldnt argue with the score, i'd argue the spreads between them and Gold should be larger.

Carolina Gold brought Mirror Mirror to the field. The show started with the members scattered, kneeling then standing and moving as the guard members stand in front of the mirror props. The battery enters, and the build in the Whitacre tune works especially with the guard staged in among the corps proper.I recognized Joy as the tempo took off and the percussion was featured.At this point it became tough to hear the brass as they seemed to become quickly fatigued, and there were some side to side balance issues. The pit had a feature, and then the various voices all traded the main line, and the visual spread really caused some balance issues.

The pit started the ballad, and the brass was grouped high and low on opposite sides of the field with a trumpet duet at center field. The brass spread into an arc for the hit, which had the guard on weapons or holding the mirrors. The mirrous turned to show shattered, and the full corps came back in to the sound of breaking glass...this led into a percussion break with a lot of body work, at times affecting the hands.In fact, the brass re-entry was tough to hear because the battery kept going full tilt.

This built to a push with the guard upfront on green flags that stood out against the corps indoor/outdoor uniforms, and the brass issues seemed to grow as the show went on. Visually the corps covered the field, but it hurt the musical offering...the guard had a "silent" guard moment, and the corps ushed into the ending with some expanding forms.

The idea for Golds show, and the indoorish uniforms have potential. However the brass had a really rough night, and I actually thought the score was too high given that. If they can get the brass to could be interesting this weekend.

ok...i'll try to get the rest done tomorrow. end of month at work kicking my butt, and i already have september closings coming up.

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The White Sabers were up next with Unrequited. I also looked forward to seeing them a second time, this time in dry conditions. The bari solo for Romeo and Juliet started as the rest of the corps dances, then the brass enters playing backfield, the battery slides their way in as the music builds, boom they turn front yet tease as the build keeps growing. the guard was featured up front as the corps finally reaches full volume to the end the piece. The temp picks up and the battery is featured, tho ending softly as the brass re-enters, and some really strong isolated attacks take place. The next piece starts with a rather royal feel. bass and contras have a moment, followed by the tenors and trumpets, followed by a playful build into a rotating block which resolves into a percussion feature. After the percussion break, the March to the Scafold came in with a high mark time, showing a really strong ensemble presentation, the tempo picks up to the end, with the guard very integrated into the drill, and more of the storyline "romance" was spotlighted.

The ballad starts with the pit, followed by a trumpet duet, the corps is playing backfield, grouped into pods, then slowly builds into a solid form...the corps turns backfield again, with the battery softly entering and the the low brass, with the corps building into a circle for the impact, with the guard in the middle of the form showcasing dance and weapons skills at the same time. As the music builds, the circle expands to the resolution of the phrase. After a brief pause, the pit comes back in, followed by a trumpet soloist then the duet again.

The corps begins Moonlight Sonata backfield with a nice percussion groove underneath, then building back into Romeo and Juliet, the brass on side 2 in a big block nailing the isolated attacks with the pit and battery throwing down all kinds of 16th note patterns, giving some serious momentum between the hits. A percussion break follows, with all of the sections featured, followed by the full ensemble....the brass re-enters spread out, and the visual condenses bring the corps up front. the tempo picks up, with the guard using heart flags, the forms condense to build visual intensity, then expand back out for the ending.

The masters of the mash-up expand the philosophy to the whole show, and it pretty much works. The percussion seemed to have a rough night on the field, and man what this corps could do with 10-15 more brass. Everything flows well, and a 90 is in their future score wise. With some nuts and bolts tightened this weekend, they could be a show stealer regardless of placement, and who knows...maybe a little penguin walk can happen Sunday. I'd love to see it, but no live feed.

In town to continue celebrating their 70th anniversary, the Hawthorne Caballeros brought "Red, White and Black" to the field. The corps entered to a recording of an old school Cabs introduction and Rumps off the line...tho...tiny detail...the corps isnt moving in time with the recording. it loses some of the intensity. Red starts with the corps visually set up like a sombrero...intro is reminiscent of Malaguena without actually being the tune, building to a big loud hit. The percussion is featured, leading back into a loud brass re-rentry, followed by isolated attacks with the corps ina big block form, with some Rumps teases in there, and the guard is surrounding the corps in their red uniforms. This is followed by some brass trade offs, into a trumpet trio, building towhat sems to be the big ending with some more Rumps teases into an even bigger ending.

White begins with the pit starting things off, into a mello solo...guard switching to white cloaks with weapons as the mello solo builds to a brass quartet, then a trumpet duet...the battery comes in and the corps is in an arc doing body movements as they play, then the form pushes forward for the hit....then back to the trumpet duet, with the corps backfield. The percussion comes in as the tempo picks up with a nice groove, all of the sections get features, then the brass comes back in, but electronics seemed to cover some of it up as we segue into Black. More Mala-feel music follows, and it felt to me like the bigs could be bigger yet. the guard is in all black now, and the low brass is featured followed by another full corps hit. The corps turns backfield, the percussion builds as the corps spreads across the field, the volume drops as the forms rotate and condense, another Rumps tease into the full out Malaguena big hit park and bark moment, and the low brass really let loose. They keep building the tension musically and visually into a slow push of the Rumps, ending with a big fast musical and visual push to the end.

I enjoyed the show, but with all of the teases of Malaguena ( as much as i dont want to hear the tune again) and the Rumps, I actually wanted to hear more of them, which works for an anniversary show. At times the electronics had some over balance issues....subs I think...that detracted. I do think they can make both ends of the dynamic spectrum more pronounced, as at times it did seem a lot of in your face for long periods of time.I thought the percussion played really well, and my god their rim shots cut like a knife, so i thought the score there was a little low. The guard is a great asset, but performer over the book a week before finals is a bit telling. Still, a very good show.....a little jarring finally seeing them live in the new duds, but after 30 seconds, you didnt notice.

Cadets 2 were up next, and my 2 previous viewings were a tale of two corps. At landisville, rain and all, they were smoking, but a week later at DCI East, especially following the Bluecoats, it was a totally different show....and not in a good way. The show kicked off with a recorded intro of sounds, giving that Mtheny feel to things, then the pit comes in with some nice tribal feels to back up the recording, as the guard starts in a circle mid field, then the brass form two circles backfield. The First Circle theme becomes more predominant as the brass enters, then the battery comes in and wow! Into Third Wind we go, wth trumpets featured followed by the mellos, and a good groove is well established. The hit that follows has good volume, the pit is featured, then the brass back in big again. the mellos have a moment up front followed by some percussion, then the brass back in with the famous brass lick, with dynamic shaping added to enhance the moment. The percussion is featured, then the brass comes back in and builds to a big standstill ending.

Heat of the day picks up with the pit and the snares, brass gets a moment, then snares, bass and tenors then the full percussion gets their moment, lots of clean beats and body. Brass comes back in along with the voice sample which was a touch too loud, the brass builds to a nice big ending. The ballad starts with the pit and a bari soloist..then a mello soloist followed by the full brass line. The corps spreads the field here, which led to a minor timing glitch that quickly recovered. The corps lands in a circle form for the big hit, the guard in the middle and their uniforms and flags stand out against the corps proper uniforms. The piece ends as the brass turns backfield to finish playing...then First Circle kicks in with the percussion, then the brass and voice sample return, and the sample was louder than the brass at times...the brass is featured in a hold doing body, and this is followed by the storm section of the piece, which is a driving, building section, the brass ends in a block for the big hit that ends the storm, followed by a percussion break. The tempo picks up as the brass comes back in, and here you notice the pit taking more melody as the velocity on the field is gaining steam, the forms start flying around the field, ending in a company front that charges forward as only the Cadets can do ( and usually do most years).

My biggest gripe is not that they hosed the brass book and used the pit and electronics to fill those was the transitions in and out fo them. Some was electronics volume, some was staging doesnt enable successful brass re-entrys, some was just choppy musically. If they can iron those bugs out next week, look the #### out. Also....ok, people want to complain about the screamer being old for C2, whatever...who cares. However...too often he's actually under heard....mic him! You brought him out to scream, but half the time you can't hear him. The recap tells the rest of the story...performance. GE and drums are there...clean, clean, clean....balance the electronics...don't hose more....smooth out what you hosed. Can they win? it's DCA, anything is possible. not easy as you'll see in a moment.

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And here came the hometown team, the Bucs, on as wild an emotional roller coaster as a corps could have. Nice touch having Max's uniform out there, and props to the members for not being distracted by seeing two corps lining one end zone, and another corps in the opposite end zone. Nice touch by Cabs, Sabers and C2 to show support to their competitor who was hurting.

Conzentric started off with the middle eastern feel being created first electronically, then with the keys and ethnic toys added in, as the corps begins kneeling in prayer, then doing body, or "tai chi" as a spectator near me called hear some Gabriels Oboe as the corps stands and begins the poses. The brass enters in pods, the guard moving all throught them, and the pre-recorded "take the field" intro is played, timed perfectly to the first full corps impact arrives. it dies down to a mello player and tuba...the tempo picks up, the tenors and cymbals are featured, then the contras, the mellos, as the tune keeps building....a trumpet solo precedes a battery break, then more trumpet solo, the high brass and low brass do some trades, and it builds perfectly to a huge hit...back to the pit, then the corps comes back in building the tension again, takes some time off for 8th note tradeoffs into a slow big push with lots of volume, spotlighting the guard up front.

The corps comes back in with the pit and electronics into a brass hit that fades away...a flugel solo starts Gabriel's Oboe with recorded chants underneath...the low brass has their moment, then the mellos, then the trumpets into a hit, then the battery comes in to take it to the next level, and...well...a lot of emotion came out in this very moment. it was huge. Like stand up and cheer huge ( sorry judges behind me). To me, during the run of Bucs, the ultimate ballad hit was Adagio way back in 05.....this topped it, mainly because you know those performers out there were playing through tears. a brief pause, then the pit takes us out into more middle eastern feel...the bass drums and cymbals drop their equipment to go to bass drums mounted in the pit, helping give an asain feel to things, the brass had a tasty lick that was well done, followed by the snares, the tenors all throwing down...the brass comes back in keeping the asian feel going, and man was there a smoking mello lick in there......then the whole corps just let loose. The corps keeps going as the brass trades between the voices into big stabs, followed bya pit break, then the corps is back in in a rotating form that expands, with the guard framing the corps, the tempo cranks up one more time, the music builds dynamically to the big ending, and wow.Just wow. i stopped writing and stood up.

How they pulled it together to perform i have no idea. Then they blew the house down. Yeah it was the hometown crowd, plus all of the emotions, but everything flows, the builds peak perfectly.....the show has something for everyone. You want deep, its there. You dont want deep, you want a musical journey with highs and lows...ok its there. they only lost guard by .1, and IMO could have scored higher, but I have a hunch...and I'd do it too....the judges were hsitant to go too high with a week to go. On facebook Sunday I saw someone with a competitor say Bucs are on another planet...and he's right. I won't predict a win, but if they can continue refining the little things ad keep the emotion....look out Rochester.this show is 2005/2012 levels. #### shame no cd's, I could listen to it daily. the only thing that slow this corps down is an internal civil war....and even then I'm not sure.

as Bucs trooped off, White Sabers brass formed an arc and played You'll never Walk alone to the corps...a really nice touch. there's video out'll tear up.

While waiting for scores, the Bucs alumni came out in concert formation, playing many Bucs favorites from years gone by such as Seahawk into Russian Sailors Dance....a nice arrangement that moments from the 80 and 73 versions, Maria from West Side, a color pres merging This Is My Country, 1812 and America, Star/Fantasy by EWF and of course Beyond The Sea.

Huge kudos to Amy Snook and crew, running her last Big Sounds. Your replacement has some #### big shoes to fill.

good luck to all in Rachacha...i'll be following along on Facebook.

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Nice review Jeff Thank You

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