Jump to content

Recommended Holiday Gift Ideas: Recent Drum Corps Books


Recommended Posts

Stuck on "what to get your marching arts family and friends for the holidays?" Looking for a great distraction to get you through the long cold winter? Want to know what really happened throughout the evolution of our beloved activity?

Last year several books came out about the history of drum corps, they are as follows: 

Mike Piskel's "Resume March: Confessions of a Drum Corps Addict" examines the history and characters of traditional and modern drum corps (DCI) in a seamless narrative memoir of his marching and life experiences in the Emerald Knights and Blue Stars. Well researched, honest, and at times laugh-out-loud hilarious, "Resume March" takes the reader on Piskel's coming of age journey through the activity. Learn, laugh, and gain better understanding of how drum corps emerged from its military origins into a truly unique art form during the transformative 1970s. Available on Amazon and also through the Blue Stars online store for ~ $18.

"Echoes in the Valley" is authored by Jud Spena, a long-time marching member and instructor for the Watkins Glen Squires Drum and Bugle Corps. This is a large book of 476 pages of detailed drum corps history in Upstate New York. A beautifully crafted and researched scrapbook of sorts, Jud provides the running narrative alongside a vast collection of newspaper clippings, interviews, and magazine articles and photos that takes the reader year by year through the activity on a local level. If you or a family member have an interest and love in the history of the marching arts this book does an outstanding job of documenting the progress and evolution of drum corps in one community. While much of it focuses on the Squires from mid 60s to early 80s, a lot of it easily translates the continuum of events leading through the growth and sadly the demise that took place in many small and large town drum corps during that period. It is available on Amazon for ~ $44.

On a similar note, (pun intended) the book, "Osage Precisionnaires: A Small Town Drum Corps That Dared To Be Great" written by Keith Richards and Scott Lee, follows the '66-'76 growth and rise of one of the most innovative and cool  little drum corps from a tiny Iowa town. With over 100 interviews and 200 photos this book again contributes to that magical time in the history of drum corps. It is available on osagecreate.com for $50. 

Finally, "My Seven Decades of Drum Corps Adventures" is penned by Bob Cook. Bob, who seemingly marched in just about every East Coast corps around, examines just that, the exploits of a drum corps brass player documenting the many aspects of a drum corps life well and thoroughly lived. Organized by categories such as Bus Adventures, On the Inspection Line, Where I Slept and Judges, We don't need no Stinkin' Judges, provide plenty of stories to amuse and entertain the die hard drum corps enthusiast. Bob's book is available on Amazon for ~$15.

You can find out more and read samples and reviews of the books offered on Amazon. I hope you take a moment to consider these titles and the opportunity for a trip back in time and a great gift for yourself or that drum corps nut in your friend/family circle. Happy Holidays. 



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Many thanks to Mike for taking the time to list and describe these great drum corps books.  I've read them all and they contain a wealth of drum corps history.  If you're interested in a signed copy of my book, "Echoes in the Valley" please contact me here or email me at: judspena@aol.com.  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The new "Wynn Center Toppers" book is available on Amazon, too. To me, the most interesting aspect is the opportunity to read the personal histories of so many members of this unique corps in their own words.

Toppers alumni became college professors, attorneys, psychologists, fine arts coordinators, community activists, religious leaders and the like. Within their orbit came great Drum Corps personalities like Bill Hightower, J. Frank "Fast Frankie" Nash, Carroll "Tiny" Dorrell, Alfred "Uncle Nick" Nichols, and even some more widely recognizable names like singer/songwriters Richie Havens, and Otis Blackwell whose compositions include "Don't be Cruel", "Return to Sender" and "Fever".

Like Harlem before it, Bedford-Stuyvesant had its own Renaissance, and the Wynn Center Toppers were right in the middle of it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Many thanks for highlighting the Wynn Center Toppers book.

The many personal achievements of this corps are also shared by other corps of the area and the era.

The influence of these many local/regional corps kept us kids out of trouble and off the dangerous streets. It also prevented a future of crime and jail which happened to kids within 30 days after quitting one of these corps. Besides, no local gang leader - including John Gotti & friends - would dare challenge any corps. We were larger, had instruments that doubled as weapons and had local members who knew where to find the gang people and made them suffer.

One of the most severe criticisms damning the DCI global mentality is that it sought to destroy local corps and in succeeding, it also destroyed local values and integrity. The DCI geniuses also cut off the steady supply of well trained new members  It's like baseball with no minor league supply of trained talent.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"DCI...it sought to destroy local corps..."

I recognize that this perception exists, but personally I don't think that was anybody's intent. DCI was formed to place the elite corps in their own category. Local corps who attempted to emulate that model often failed to thrive, for a variety of reasons, in my opinion.

But, to stay on topic, you will find no small amount of criticism for DCI in the books mentioned above, and folks are entitled to their interpretation of this activity's history.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

I take exception to the comment made by ironlips regarding "you will find no small amount of criticism for DCI in the books mentioned above" as I am the author of "Resume" and have read all three of the first books mentioned. Taking the time to read them you will see that there really isn't any criticism of DCI, quite the contrary. There is no doubt that DCI impacted many of the smaller corps throughout the country and the books all shed a light on just how the overall activity of drum corps/ marching arts was transformed by the emergence of DCI, but as for criticism, it just isn't there. As for gunther's comments regarding the global mentality of DCI, the post makes for quite the conspiracy theory. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...