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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks to Jerry Seawright, the Penn Valley Chamber of Commerce, and many other supporters of The Blue Devils, both the Santa Clara Vanguard and The Blue Devils gave their premier performance this Memorial Day Weekend. Jerry had arranged Memorial Day weekend camp facilities at Nevada Union HS for The Blue Devils and at Bear River HS for the Vanguard, in exchange for an afternoon performance by both corps in the town of Penn Valley (where Jerry now lives) at the very nice community amphitheater at Western Gateway Park.

The locals started gathering early in anticipation of the show, as Jerry had done an excellent job of promoting the show and the activity. There were also a lot of fans who braved the Memorial Day traffic for up to three hours each way to catch the first glimpse of both corps. All in all, there were easily over 500 people gathered in this quaint sunny Sierra Nevada mountain town, not including the corps and their support staff!

The Vanguard were first to arrive, their impressive fleet of 4 busses carefully maneuvering in the cozy community park setting, soon followed by three more busses of Blue Devils. The seven busses, along with staff vehicles, equipment trucks and trailers, and SCV’s promotion trailer were overwhelming the locals, even without the corps playing a single note!

Drum corps fans, and the locals alike, were very impressed with Santa Clara’s new uniforms, very well tailored to the members. And equally impressive was Santa Clara’s sound during their warm ups, with a very rich sounding horn line and crisp drum line. Those who didn’t know about the show knew about it during their warm up, as their sound resonated throughout the entire Penn Valley! The Blue Devils arrived silently during Santa Clara’s warm up, not playing until they performed in the show.

The first to take the stage was a local singer with a very moving rendition of the Star Spangled Banner, after which was the playing of taps, led by an Vanguard trumpeter, echoed by a Blue Devil trumpeter, followed by a moment of silence for those who had fallen in battle for the United States, a very appropriate and moving start for this Memorial Day celebration.

First up was the SCV percussion line, going through some warm up sequences and then were joined by the brass section (both the SCV and BD guards were in the audience for the show, as the stage was a bit small to get everyone on). Santa Clara’s repertoire this year includes Trivandrum (Gordon Henderson), Symphony No. 2 (Howard Hanson), and Symphony for Organ and Orchestra, Movements 2 & 3 (Aaron Copland), all of which were magnificently presented and well received by the audience. Santa Clara’s rich chords, warm tones, and musicality will, I know, be accentuated by their always beautiful drill to delight the drum corps fans this year.

Next, introduced by Jerry Seawright, the 2002 Blue Devils. Again, starting with warm ups from the percussion section including the world famous “Ditty”, the drum line did not fail to please both the locals and the die hard drum corps fans! The brass line then took the stage to re-warm up and play original music composed by John Meehan, which were both very stirring and patriotic. Then, “the Jazz began”, as it did a hundred years ago, with “Ragtime”. You could feel the soul of the syncopation of these “Rags”, just as though it was being played on a player piano, along with the fun slap-stick type percussion sounds. They moved on to tunes from the twentys and thirties with a medley of I’ve Got Rhythm (George Gershwin) and Fascinatin Rhythm (Gershwin / Rob McConnell version), show off both Gershwin’s musical genius and Wayne Downey’s arrangements, seamlessly intertwining the songs. Next was House of the Rising Sun, one of the most well known pieces from the Blues tradition. This could be another Blue Devils classic, just as their last piece has been – Channel One Suite (Bill Reddie for Buddy Rich) has been, which lead BD to DCI victories in ’76, ’77, and ’86. The crowd was on their feet at the end of their set!

Finally, a combined SCV/BD hornline closed with America / O Canada, a very loud and moving set, which again brought the crowd to their feet. But, after this set the audience remained, as Frank Dorritte was recording BD for their early season CD, so we were again treated to “One More Time Blue Devils” … a full reprise of their full show!

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PLUS (I forgot) ... BD had their brand new trumpets ... VERY nice sounding!

Plus one of the soloists (a guy from Jersey Surf) could easily be called "dogwhistle" ... as he plays way high! :)

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Gee, Jeff - you should be in Marketing.

Oh, wait. You are!!

Good job!

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