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7 hours ago, AoEnut said:


Some valid points by you.  I'm taking a less cynical approach by my standards and even surprising myself as I write this :22_stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

They've made a choice to come out later than all the other corps.  This made sense when they were sharing designers between the two corps.  Is this the case anymore?  Maybe the guard thing?  I really think this hurts them. They have a partial week of rehearsals coming up, maybe they were waiting till this point to get in and fix many of the issues.  This is something that the other corps don't have.   Even with the added hours that C2 has it still is only weekend drum corps and the later start really kills them.    

I think they are going to be strong by the time the end of the year rolls around.  They have a great brass sound, but still struggle on the move.  The percussion section is again very strong, as always, but is maybe being thrown off by the latter.  Their guard seems behind but have been catching up.  The drill has become much clearer.  My opinion they seem to be struggling in the coordination area, but as I said it seems to be getting better.  Maybe it's the byproduct of their design staff shakeups.  

I totally agree with you about the parent thing.  A lot of money to be monkeying around with getting the show on the field.  

Great thoughts from you.  Thanks for sharing.  




It's all good. :satisfied: It's just some issues that concern me in a certain way. If their model proves to be the "winner winner chikkin dinner" strategy, Let me put it this way- If I were running a DCA corps, I wouldn't be too proud or stubborn ( I AM stubborn.. but also a realist and fierce competitor!) and I'd be trying to figure out how to adapt that model to my corps if it meant it was the best chance to win or place well for the membership. I may not like it, but I'd have to adapt to the changing forces. The last thing I'd want would be for my corps to become irrelevant and some kind of joke or anachronism. The thing is, what would be the unintended effects of it? That's where my mind is on this.

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6 hours ago, Jeff Ream said:



6 hours ago, Jeff Ream said:

gliss feature,

Well as an arranger I don't think of it as an extra like power windows on a new car. It's part of the characteristic of the instrument.  

Bass drums sections split way more than atoms these days. 



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On 8/1/2017 at 11:41 PM, BigW said:

Snowflakes? Lord, lord, lord. All I can think of are "Special Snowflakes", a nerdy gaming term... :laugh:

search Mechanicsburg 2005. 30+ snowflake props on the field. Worked well once the guard finally put them in the right places and the battery stopped plowing them over. wait, here's the video



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On a gorgeous night for a mid-season contest, 8 corps gathered at John Henzes/Veterans Memorial Stadium in Peckville PA, just north of Scranton for the annual Parade of Champions. Run by DCA and the American Legion, this long running show brought 8 of DCA’s Open Class corps together for the biggest showdown of the regular season.

First in completion were the Skyliners, eager to perform before their hometown fans. Their 2017 show “XScape” is easily the most modern since their return to the field, and they have a wide age range of performers out there bringing it to life. The show begins with sound effects in the front ensemble as the members scatter to the fence props in groups. The full corps enters playing backfield with soloists trading back and forth leading to the first big impact of the show. Some minor balances issues between percussion and brass followed with the brass on side 1 and percussion on side 2, and then many sections trade off as the fences are moved, trapping the brass inside them. "Escape to Paradise” then begins with the front ensemble as we see the fences move again during a mello solo. The Brass voices layer in underneath building to a hit showing the brass playing while kneeling, then in the second half of the impact the battery percussion builds underneath the brass to reach its climax. After a minor pause, a mello soloist and then the pit finish the song as the guard is behind the fences.

The percussion feature follows started by the bass drums, then features the tenors then snares with the guard behind them with bright green flags, with the brass moving the fences to “cage” them inside. The brass begins to re-enter adding voices as the phrase builds, with the guard taking the center of the field as the brass and percussion are in rotating circles to either side of them. After this, the tempo picks suddenly up and the corps storms the front sideline for a strong finish. The transition into the ending seemed forced, as some of the details may not be fully fleshed out. 8th place with a score of 75.35

Clearly the most modern program Sky has offered since returning to the field. Still some performance issues, to me the highlight is the battery which is really coming along. As the brass comes together more and the visual package tightens up, this could be the show that gets Sky back into the Sunday night dance in Rachacha. 


Bringing their 2017 show "miRAge" to the field were the Sunrisers. Their drum majors are a who’s who of DCA royalty with Josh Decker leading the way, assisted by Diane Koenig, Carol O’Brien and Scott Williamson. A mic’d trumpet solo began the performance, with the volume just a touch bright, followed by a mic’d mello solo, also a touch loud coming through the speakers. The corps builds into a large form facing backfield, with the brightly attired guard surrounding them. The moment grows musically and visually leading to a nice resolution though the low end synth was also a little loud. The temp picks up with a baritone solo, followed by the follow corps then a battery percussion break, with the rifles staged in the middle of the form for a very eye catching moment. The corps then goes backfield before turning back front with a block where the brass moves forward then breaks off in pairs to the side to form a new block.

The show continued with the front ensemble with the brass doing body and chants behind them. The battery percussion was featured, but some performance issues were evident…tuning may also be part of the issue. The brass re-enters with a totally different musical feel, led by the tubas up front setting the well-known “Caravan” groove. The groove doesn’t feel totally locked in yet, but when it does, it will take this section to a new level. The whole corps then has a standstill jam, which again need to get the feel locked in to truly sell. After this, another feel change happens, going for a more military feel, with a baritone solo, and then adding a trumpet for a duet. The corps spreads the field for the big hit, but again, the synth enhancement is too loud. The brass at this point comes around in front of the front ensemble to add some in your face feeling. “Danse Bacchanle” begins with the brass heading backfield as the familiar melody builds towards the eventual turn front field and release. The percussion is featured with a very active rifle line staged around them. The pace changes up with a slower section of the piece, building into the introduction of the jingle sticks in the pit for the up tempo mello lick fans everywhere know and love, building to the finish with the brass again surrounding the front ensemble. 7th place, 76.6

The show has some nice ideas, but i must admit, the mirror props used didnt catch my eye once during the show. Caravan needs to lock in the groove, and some battery performance issues need to be addressed by woodshed or eraser.


White Sabers were up next with their “Waterways” production. Noticeably larger this year, and were on a mission to show their growth in multiple ways. The show began with the sound of waves coming through the speakers, and then a baritone and trumpet traded off solos to “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” as the corps slowly moves to the front of the field, then turn to play backfield in pods before the pods resolve into files work their way into a company front as they turn front field. The guard is in front of the corps and with blue flags and ends in a big moment musically and visually. The tempo then picks up with the front ensemble leading the way, and brass and battery percussion voices layer in the visual slides and rotates into a box for another big volume moment. The battery percussion has a feature, and then trombones enter the soundscape with some well-done glissando moments. The rest of the brass starts to work their way back in taking some large step sizes that once they get fully comfortable playing and moving will create moment of its own before the corps goes into a full impact musically with the corps doing body moves underneath.

The front ensemble changes the pace starting “Bridge Over Troubled Water” with a French horn soloist, the brass section kneels while playing the guard featured visually with sabers. The corps turns backfield under a baritone/French horn mic’d duet that seemed a bit louder than could be, then the brass turned back front for a very big impact, which died down musically then grew back up as the battery percussion entered in. A slight pause with electronic sounds following, leading into a trumpet solo as the song ended with the corps facing backfield. A percussion break picked things back up; with the guard picking up drums with water on the heads to add some splash to the proceedings….these almost seemed an afterthought. With all the battery is doing, unless one looks how they are currently staged, they can be overlooked. The Electronics here were a bit overpowering of the battery moments. The brass re-enters moving at half time leading to the famous “Niagara Falls” groove. The corps turns backfield before the intensity picks up with the brass playing some strong isolated attacks over an active percussion book. The tempo jumps again with some pitch bends building to a charging finish that was well received by the crowd. 2nd place 83.6

The first corps to truly grab the crowd, who seemed to be unprepared for what WS had to offer. While sitting second, there's still work to do looking at the recap in many areas, but there is nothing written that good rehearsals and information from the staff that can't improve. Will they hold that spot and have easily their best season ever? Who knows, but WS sent notice to the world, they're ready to go to that next level. 

Bushwackers were next performing their 2017 show “Where We Belong”.  The show begins with a vocal clip saying “There’s no place like home”, followed by a mello solo into trumpet solos from “somewhere Over The Rainbow”, which merges into “Creep” by Radiohead as the corps turns into an impact with the brass on side 1 and the bright green clad guard taking up side of the field.  The pit then takes over as props of the “yellow brick road” and “ home begin to move around the field, not quite all in the proper order….very eye catching as you follow them to see when they finally land in the right order. The “Orawa” section moved along nicely, but some stamina issues were evident that time and rehearsal will iron out. The corps turns backfield to change the pace with more “wizard of Oz” music, then creating dissonance as they turn front building into a swing feel with the front ensemble leading into the full corps into the swing section of “Blue Shades”. The corps hasn’t fully grasped the swing feel yet, but you can see it’s getting closer. The tempo jumps with the percussion taking over with more “yellow brick road” vocals and the brass doing body work behind the percussion. The full corps comes back into the “Blue Shades” with some brass to percussion balance issues evident. The pit then brings “Creep” back with a mello solo and the guard spotlighted with sabers, then some mid voice and lower brass voices trade off and layer together for an impact moment. The holes in the brass section were noticeable here, so hopefully they are filled soon. The battery enters and a slow push to the end begins just as the props finally get perfectly aligned in order to show the road to “home”. The tempo picks up again for some Night on Bald Mountain back into “Orawa”, followed by a silent flag feature then the corps comes back in moving forward with a company front to end the show. 6th place 79.25

The idea works, but the holes hurt. If the bodies are to be added,that can help visually and the balances issues. Stamina is an issue yet, and good endurance work will help fix some things. It seemed that while maybe they had a great day, some of the day was left on the rehearsal field. The good thing is that usually catches up during shows sooner than later.

The Reading Buccaneers entered the field tonight to prove as a quote in their show says “we have no competition but ourselves”, and they were right. Their 2017 show is called “Behind the Suit” with several vocal clips throughout the show telling of how the superheroes we see on the field go about preparing themselves to perfect their performance. The corps starts in a huge circle with the battery in the middle, and the entire guard on rifles. The visual and music build visually, with the tempos and step sizes fast and furious, and the Bucs show stamina is no issue producing great volume at the tempos chosen. Trombones were then featured along with the percussion as the rest of the brass does body and scatters, and the corps comes back in again pushing the pedal to the metal for both volume and speed, seemingly never letting up.

The pace slows down with the front ensemble leading the way, followed by a trumpet feature, then a brass ensemble with a French horn, concert baritones and trombones mic’d on side 2. The trumpets featured next, as the brass layers back in underneath, with the battery finally entering for a very large impact moment. The tempo picks back up with the battery percussion leading the way, followed by trade offs between every brass and percussion section. From here the battery is on side 1, the brass is on side 2, all running and gunning, and more of the vocals come through telling how performers view their goals to compete with themselves and  making themselves better. Under those quotes the corps is back field building and building, followed by a bass drum break into the full battery, and then the entire corps is back in as the drill moves at a breakneck pace with a multitude of forms I couldn’t write down fast enough until they push towards the front sideline for a powerful conclusion of the show. 1st place 87.75, all captions except color guard.


Good lord...i couldn't keep up writing at times. they run. they gun. they run and gun at the same time. if anything, maybe somewhere it could slow down a little just for a breath, but here's a corps that yet again after losing at finals comes back hell bent on setting a new standard for the circuit. While all of the quotes talk about being in competition with themselves, as scores go, well, yeah right now they are. Numbers will tighten up eventually, only because Bucs only have 12.25 left to use. i need 4 more viewings to catch everything.

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Fusion Core entered the field next with their 2017 production “Connexus”. The brass and percussion started in a circle on side 2 doing body moves as the front ensemble began the musical moments. The circle broke apart as the battery enters and the corps plays backfield. They turn and build into a hit with the brass around the guard that reverses itself. The percussion is featured, followed by the mellos, highlighted by a very active weapons line. The trumpets have a feature with the snares, with more trumpets adding in along the way, and then the form scatters as the brass plays isolated attacks as the percussion fills the space in between. The piece concludes as everything builds in volume and velocity to the conclusion of the song. The front ensemble and a baritone soloist start “The Sound of Silence”, then a mello joins in for a duet. The battery adds in with accessory percussion instruments to add a nice groove underneath as the brass starts to add in to the melody. The brass builds in volume and the guard unveils bright pink flags building to a climax. After the release, the brass form condenses then goes under a red tarp with a heartbeat sound coming through the speakers. Cell phone rings then are head followed by snare and tenor breaks, followed by full percussion, with a lot of body moves happening. The brass enters for a big impact, and then the cymbals are featured, followed by brass and percussion tradeoffs. The visual highlight here is the guard using handheld lights. After some more sound effects, the brass re-entered and seemed a touch off for a few counts, followed by more sound effects were heard, and were a touch too loud. The percussion is featured again. Then the tempo picks up and the tension builds musically and visually into a company front that pushes forward with all of the songs in the show mashed up, with a lot of rotating forms that ends with a big impact that felt a little unsteady yet. Time will cure that I’m sure.  3rd place, 82.0, best color guard


I enjoyed the show, but the concept really never seemed fully clear to me. I'm sure as time goes on the talented staff will help connect the dots, and even if they don't do it in a way that I personally get, it's still an enjoyable show. the guard is truly a highlight

The Hawthorne Caballeros entered the field with “Pathways of Remembrance”. On paper, this does not seem like your traditional Cabs show, yet in many ways the arrangements still give the viewer the Hawthorne feel so loved for decades. The corps begins by lying down on the “pathway” laid on the field as ominous sounds emit from the speakers. The guard soloist descends a set of stairs way back in the corner of side 1 that was hard to see as the synth player plays “Stairway to Heaven”. A French horn ensemble takes us into “La Fiesta Mexicana” and the battery enters backfield as the voice of Fran Haring comes through the speakers announcing their production, timed to the full corps turning front for a hit that builds nicely to the release. A female voice then sings some “Stairway” which is followed by a percussion break, and as the brass re-entered there were some ensemble issues. The brass sections traded 16th note passages back and forth. Another percussion break is followed up with the brass coming back in way out on side 2 with a brisker tempo, and some stamina issues were noticed as the volume dropped a bit while the corps was taking some large steps, and recovered at the hit. The very colorful guard stood out here against the red, black and white of the corps uniforms.

The pace slowed down as the corps moved back into “Stairway” with the brass on the ground doing body moves. When they got back up, they took what is usually considered the ‘jam” part of the tune and played it backfield underneath a French horn solo, while the guard covered the field with large butterfly wing flags. The brass turns back front, builds in volume and then the battery joined in for a more true to the original “jam” section. While the corps put a lot of energy into their body moves, the music didn’t fully match tonight. The corps moved into “La Fiesta led by a French horn solo followed by a group of trombones. The pace picked up with the trumpets and snares having a moment together, followed by a percussion break. The corps comes back in with some mic’d trumpets building into the finish of the show.  4th place 81.4


I know they had a week off, and the number of ensemble tears/uneasiness seemed uncharacteristic. One may be due to staging....making it tough to hear. The thing that really caught me was the show seemed flat until the end. I know with body they communicated they were throwing down, but musically it didnt line up. it has the potential to be a ton of fun when clean, but man, they need to do something to draw attention to the stairs in the beginning....it's just so far backfield.

Cadets2 were the final corps of the evening presenting their show “Simple Gifts. “Hush Little Baby” is heard from the speakers, then a female voice singing, but there were some issues with the speakers that caused some issues. The low brass entered musically on side 2, with more brass voices layering. The front ensemble is then featured, followed by the brass, while the guard does dance and body on the many white rocking chairs on the field.  The tempo picks up with the front ensemble, then the battery enters as a mic’d soloist brings in the familiar melody of “Appalachian Morning, which was hampered by some more speaker issues. This led to a nice 16th note passage that built to an impact. The low brass and front ensemble has a moment as the guard catches your eye with bright pink flags that stand out against the blue uniforms. The battery percussion is featured, and then the percussion and brass are then in a block that breaks apart, back into the box that rotates. The piece builds with a “Simple Gifts” quote from the pit as the corps powers to the end in a form that almost looks like a Zpull in reverse.

The pace changes with “Simple Gifts” again quoted on the synth underneath the introduction of “Blue Shades”. The corps plays the familiar jazzy section really spread out on the field, and is followed by the bass drums, snares, and tenors being featured. The brass re-entry on side 2 happens in a form that folds in on itself as it builds to the front and center as the corps is really covering space. A vocal quote of “will you marry me” is heard, but does not appear to be fully fleshed out yet, as the corps has a big hit while standing still. The tempo increases with the brass playing isolated attacks over top of a very busy battery book. A quote about people we love, places we’ve been is followed by a quartet of trumpet, concert euphonium and 2 French horns playing the intro to “Simple Gifts”.  The baritones follow with more brass voices layering in as the front ensemble is very busy with the well-known strong parts, and then the tempo slows back down to feature the quartet again. As the full corps comes back in, they build to a company front  which breaks apart as it moves forward ala the 87 Cadets of DCI fame, coming back together at the end of the musical phrase just as drum corps fans expect from seeing the original so many times before.5th place 80.35

live by the plug, die by the plug, and the speaker issues early on hurt.the 87 drill at the end was both a nice touch and also a "oh man, you cant top the original" moment all in one. The corps is till growing into the feel aspects of the show, some holes didn't help visually, and while the rocking chairs are used creatively in some spots, they also just take up space at times.While history has taught us not to count them out by the end, given the competition this year, plus CV, MBI and Kidsgrove all to get more recent scores, one wonders if magic can repeat itself.


In exhibition, Tri Valley brass performed their Dixieland set of "Royal Garden Blues”, "Basin Street Blues", "Just a Closer Walk With Thee/ When the Saints go Marching in" and then closed with their patriotic suite "Four Cohan Songs". The group consists of many drum corps alumni and they have various versions of the group that play a variety of events in the Northeast Region



There ya go. flame away!

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Really appreciate your effort to continue doing these reviews, Jeff!  I'm glad (sort of) to hear your complaints about the overbearing electronics. I can accept that electronics are here to stay, and most of it does enrich some presentations, but the inability of so many corps to get the right balance is a real turn-off for me. Even on the highly-funded DCI side, several "big boys" can't seem to control these new toys. Or, perhaps they don't want to?

There is something wrong when a drum corps' big hits sound like organ music at a Phillies game. 

If drum corps continues to sound increasingly fake, it will lose the interest of many observers.

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3 hours ago, Kamarag said:

Great review, Jeff. 

One very minor correction for Cabs though. The trumpet trio in La Fiesta is not mic'd or amplified. It's straight-up traditional Cabs screamers. 

sorry coulda swore i saw mics. 

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