Box Center Episode 2009-2

Box Center episode 2009-2 is now available for download. In this episode, Drum Corps Planet Managing News Editor Kevin Gamin interviews Cam Stasa of Music for All and Bands of America. Cam talks about BOA’s inaugural experience with Lucas Oil Stadium, what both BOA and DCI learned from the experience, and what DCI fans can expect from Lucas Oil as well as Indianapolis for 2009 and beyond. Kevin also interviews Carl Diefenbach, program coordinator for Capital Regiment. Carl gives some insight into the 2009 program for Cap Reg, “The Storm”, and about the return of the corps to competitive status this season.

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Box Center Episode 2009-1

The first episode of 2009 for Box Center takes the time to remember Michael “Cozy” Baker. Cozy, who passed away this past December at the age of 60, was a major part of the drum corps activity as a fan, writer, volunteer, performer, and promoter/evangelist of drum and bugle corps. This memorial, recorded on the same day many of Cozy’s family, friends, and fellow drum corps lovers gathered to pay tribute to his life, will feature Cozy memories from people like Frank Dorrite and Tony DiCarlo, as well as audio clips of drum corps performances featuring Cozy. Please feel free to download this episode and join in remembering a true drum corps fanatic.

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Cozy Baker Memorial/Tribute Podcast Update

Hey everybody.

I just wanted to give you an update on the Cozy memorial/tribute podcast I’m putting together.

First of all, I’d like to thank those of you who have called or emailed me with stories and messages about Cozy. Playing these stories and reading these messages will demonstrate yet again what a wonderful man Cozy was and how much he touched all of our lives.

It’s a week until Cozy’s memorial in Alabama. I’d like to put together the final recording of the podcast this Wednesday evening (1/14/09). If you haven’t called and left a message or emailed me with your Cozy memories, I’d love it if you did so. If you’ve posted a story about Cozy in this thread and would like it used in the tribute podcast, just email me the link to your post and I will add it to the finished show.

Here’s the contact info to participate in the tribute podcast:
Phone – (330) 871-7965
Skype – kevingamin
Email – boxcenter@drumcorpsplanet.com

You can also PM me via DCP.

I will post the finished product on Sunday. This way those of you who can’t be in Alabama can hold your own memorial and share in the moment with those who are there. I will also see about getting the show burned to CD and delivered to Cozy’s family so they have a permanent reminder of how much we all loved Cozy.

Thank you all.

2007 Phantom Regiment Review – DCI Fan Network Finals Video

2007 Show Concept – On Air

2007 Repertoire:
Vespertine Formations
1000 Airplanes on the Roof Amazon
Flower Duet (from Lakme)
Suggestion Diabolique
Firebird Suite Amazon

The corps opens in a giant open oval, kind of like a bird egg, considering the theme.  Guard members are carrying double flags serving as wings and are “flying” around the field.  Some members of the horn line also start “flocking” and “flying” as the pit opens the show.  The horns come in backfield, then turn front before moving into the main portion of the opener.  The horns have a nice effect when they play triplet chords, decrescendoing and turning backfield at the same time, then turning front to repeat the effect.  Drum feature gives each section a quick chance to shine before the horns come back in.  A big PR foot kick halt finishes the opener, although the corps turns backfield and plays some more to transition into the Flower Duet.  The final formation looks kind of like a kite, again appearing to keep with the theme.

A lot more running around by the horns occurs before the duet begins, played by two flugelhorns.  The duet was pretty solid throughout the year, and this final performance is no exception.  Sabers are in pairs during the end of the first, main duet, and perform a toss where the person behind the tosser reaches around and catches.  The horns perform the main theme, climaxing in a big chord, before the duet returns one more time.

Tubas get their moment in the sun during Suggestion Diablolique, opening the piece before the horns come in and suggest something diabolical, complete with dischordant trills.  Mellophones really wail during one of the hits of the piece, for which I am eternally grateful to J.D. Shaw.  Percussion gets a larger feature in this piece and show they haven’t lost a thing from their 2006 champion line.  It gives you an idea of how strong Blue Devils’ line had to be to take the title away in 2007.  A fun effect in the guard:  Groups of guard members carry another member who is holding wing flags, looking like they’re flying from the stands.

The wing flags come into play again to start the closer, as the baritone soloist for the beginning of Firebird Suite appears from behind a partition, holding his arms out while a guard member holds wing flags behind him, making him look like they’re his wings.  The final guard costume for the closer looks like they have solid black versions of the PR chevron, which is a nice effect.  Mellophones go totally insane during Firebird, playing more notes in 30 seconds than some sections play in their entire show.  They follow that up with a giant sustain of a unison note before the corps finishes the show, complete with Phantom wedge formation and leg kick.

Final impressions – I personally thought Phantom had the best musical performance of the night.  I am biased towards the techniques which their horn line utilizes, plus I love the sound of the King horns, both of which are opinions which I know not everybody shares.  Alas, Blue Devils beat Phantom in both brass and percussion, but not by much.  The weakness of this show was definitely GE.  The attempts to portray the On Air theme just did not achieve what the designers hoped for.  Between the poorly designed guard uniforms, which looked like molting birds instead of flying birds, and teh strange bauldric and gauntlet designs which were supposed to elicit images of bird feathers, it was hard to take the theme of the show seriously.  This is a show I can listen to over and over again.  Watching this show, however, won’t happen as often.

2007 Cavaliers Review – DCI Fan Network Finals Video

2007 Show Theme:  Billy Joel: Music of An American Icon

2007 Repertoire:
The Stranger
Angry Young Man
And So It Goes
Invention in C Minor
Pressure
I’ve Loved These Days
Scenes From An Italian Restaurant

The show opens with a lone soloist playing the theme from The Stranger as the rest of the corps saunters around the field.  After Brandt Crocker announces the corps, the running starts.  First running in the drill as the corps plays backfield and builds to the first big hit from Italian Restaurant.  The corps once again saunters during the hit, performing very laid back while wailing away.  After the hit, it’s off and running again for the Cavies as they play the opening from Angry Young Man, which serves as the percussion feature.  At one point, the horns do a ripple, half the line of a company front rolling and tumbling from left to right very quickly.  This gets a positive reaction from the crowd.  During a more introspective moment of Angry Young Man, trios of horn players drop out of the ensemble, do another roll on the ground, and pop back up.  The pit gets a lot of work during this piece, playing the piano part of the song, which is full of triplet 16th notes.  The song ends with one last build and blast from the horns.

The second piece, a medley of And So It Goes and the Intervention in C Minor, opens with a pit interlude, joined by a baritone soloist who plays a tasteful counter melody.  The Intervention opens with each section of the horns blowing out from a straight line moving across the field from left to right, form arcs, and joining in a fugue-like musical moment, before returning to the And So It Goes theme.  The guard is on sabers and beautiful violet silk flags.  The song finishes with the pit and another horn ripple, this time having the front horn player fall back into the back horn player’s arms, then raising his hat in the air to form a line of white above the line of horns.

Pressure opens with the percussion playing a groove, stopping a couple times for the corps to whisper “pressure!”.  This piece is all about drums and drill, although the brass has some moments of their own, including a moment during the “all your life is Time Magazine” section where the brass dissolves from a block triangle formation as a line of guard runs through the block from right to left, itself dissolving.  During the percussion feature, we get a mini Fight Club moment before the horns come back in and build to the big Pressure theme finale.  One final Stranger quote leads into the finish of the piece.

The closer opens with the pit returning to the And So It Goes theme before passing off to the horns with I’ve Loved These Days, which the corps plays backfield.  A quick drill moment leads into a company front with the corps stating the Bottle of White, Bottle of Red theme fro Italian Restaurant.  Earlier in the season, this was the end of the show, but the Cavies added the real closer around San Antonio, continuing with the Italian Restaurant theme, this time from the Ballad of Brenda and Eddie.  Mellos get a chance to shine here.  As has been the case during the Michael Gaines drill years, the closer is full of fast paced kaleidoscopic insanity.  The show finishes with one last build to a climax, similar to the end of the opener.

Final impressions:  The Cavaliers have been accused of not utilizing their brass, either in terms of difficulty level or volume, over the past few years.  Whether or not this is true is for others to debate, but it should be said that the 2007 brass line was one of the weaker Cavaliers’ horn lines of the new century.  Much of this can be chalked up to a larger number of rookies in the line than usual, although it is difficult to take pop or rock music and arrange it to the level of difficulty which modern drum corps demands of its top units.  That Richard Saucedo accomplished as much as he did with his 2007 arrangements is yet another testament to his abilities.  This was also the second year for Jim Casella’s percussion arrangements and, while the book was very tasteful and fit the theme, there was still an adjustment period occurring for the drum line.

2007 Cadets Review – DCI Fan Network Finals Video

2007 Show Concept:  This I Believe. Truth, Value and the Personal Experience Called Drum Corps

2007 Repertoie:

Symphonic Movement
Blue Shades Amazon
Adiemus: Cantata II Amazon

Show information courtesy of corpsreps.com

The corps starts spread out on the field on every yard line, forming a giant block.  The horns start backfield and open with the opening chords of Symphonic Movement.  Members of the hornline drop out of the form, walk across the field, and speak to the crowd, wearing wireless microphones controlled from the sound board in front of the field.  Major fast paced drill action after an accelerando leads into a company front with a huge statement from the horns.  The opener features small brass ensembles throughout the piece, especially during a wicked double tonguing moment from the trumpets while half time marching towards the front, which leads into a big statement.  Each major section of the music is introduced by a member of the corps as they start to play the next segment.  The opening is very fast paced, which we’ve come to expect from the Cadets.  A great rifle and saber ripple across the front leads into the final segmant of the opener, which finishes faster and louder than any other part of the piece.

The second piece opens with a quote from Martha Graham.  Stabs from Blue Shades are interspersed through the quote.  This section of the show deals with an average corps rehearsal day:  Basics block, brass ensemble, and full corps rehearsal, complete with staff quotes.  The year started with a lot of negative quotes from the “staff”, although still very benign compared to what staff REALLY says when the corps doesn’t perform well.  After building up to what seems to be a hit, the corps stops and a member says, “OK, let’s do something with NO voice!”.  The crowd roars, either in amusement or approval.  A trumpet soloist does a great job leading the corps into the big hit of Blue Shades, while the mellophones get their moment in the sun during the hit itself.  A few more positive staff quotes, then the corps “brings it in” for the finish.

The closer focuses on one member of the corps, who, up until Finals, talked about how he didn’t fit in until he found music.  This was changed for the last show, removing any “emo” aspects of the narration and just focus on how he loves music in its various forms.  The music itself is intense and the corps is running all over the place, including a very crazy drill move with the horns in a block rectangle moving across the field from left to right.  Two blocks within the rectangle rotate in opposite directions during the move, while the guard runs through the middle of the block, moving from right to left across the field.  The drum feature is just as intense, complete with an insane bass roll and a finish which thunders throughout the stadium.  With a final statement of what he believes, the narrator leads the corps into the final moments of the show, the fastest and hardest drill of the performance, finishing in a company front at the front of the field.

Final impressions – First off, let me state right off that I am not a fan of narration.  It is rare for me to enjoy a show which features narration.  2007 Cadets is no exception.  While I am amazed at what the music and visual programs achieve throughout this show, I am constantly annoyed by the voice overs which only serve to block my appreciation of those musical and visual achievements.  For a corps with so much talent to purposely hide it for the sake of concept is a problem.  Despite my strong feelings about this show, it placed exactly where it belonged.  The talent of the corps, as well as the incredible music and visual program, pushed this show right to the edge and was championship calibur.  In the end, Blue Devils simply performed better.

2007 Blue Devils Review – DCI Fan Network Finals Video

2007 Show Concept:  Winged Victory

2007 Repertoie:
Bird and Bela in B Flat (2nd Movement)
Celebrare Celeberrime
Introduction to Rite of Spring
Pegasus Amazon
Firebird Suite Amazon
The Kiss 

Show information courtesy of corpsreps.com

The show opens with the horns spread out in a large open block rectangle.  The guard is spread out in front of the block in a wing shape.  Drums are up front and start the show with the pit.  Snares and tenors trade off and march around each other while playing tom drums on the front side line, a gimmick from earlier in the 2000s.  Horns start backfield, then turn front with dischordant stabs.  Pit plays tons of runs before all of this resolves into the Pegasus statement and a major park and blow, which gets the crowd going.  Horns turn backfield again while the pit plays a riff before the next segment of the opener, the Space Chord.  Horns are in a diagonal line across the field, which the drums march in, around, and through.  After the drums pass through, the horns in that segment of the line start making the line wave.  The space chord resolves into a major statement, but the crowd barely has time to recover before the drums begin their feature.  A lot of body movement is incorporated into the feature, which a portion of the hornline joins.  Sixteenth note runs from the horns lead into a major pit accelarando.  The guard is all on rifles at this point and is tossing all over the place.  Horns turn backfield again and restate the Pegasus theme before turning back front and finishing the piece in a similar manner to “Day Danse” from the ’94 show, complete with the drums high sticking in different patterns to add visual flair.  Guard changes uniforms, going from very dark to white in the female section, with more shades of blue on the males.

Second piece opens with the pit, while the horns scatter and form up in pairs before they enter.  This piece is very much like a chorale, slow with quiet dignity, although the pit has more runs in the background.  The guard spends a lot of time in a group doing dance, but the second half features flags, while one of the women has blue shaded wings (’80s BD) and one of the men has a streamer (also ’80s BD).  One last Pegasus quote from the tubas before transitioning to the third section of the show.  The horns play backfield, still in chorale mode, while the drums, double-timing across the back of the field, play a lot of notes subtly.  Horns turn back forward and play a fanfare before moving into the meat of the third section.  Volume comes back down and, with tasteful playing by the pit, slowly builds to a hit.  Drums are up front again, moving across the field and preparing to return to the tom rack.  The toms lead into the final segment of the show, The Kiss, which the corps milks for all it’s worth.  The horns arc around the field, forming a block rectangle as they prepare for the main statement of the piece, then peel off from the formation from front to back, forming giant wings on the field as the guard wears large double flags of white wings.  Horns collapse into a pod on the 50 and crank out the ending, complete with an Amen chord progression.

Final impressions – I have a confession:  I spent most of 2007 HATING this show.  I thought the book was not meaty enough for the scores the corps received and, anytime I downloaded an APD, I would just listen to the show once and move on.

Then I got the Quarters APD, the studio recording made close to the end of the season, and the Finals CDs.  Now, when I look at my iTunes play count, this show is at or near the top of the list.  I don’t know what changed my mind, but the sound the horns put out is one of the most balanced and in-tune sounds I’ve heard from a drum corps.  The energy, even during the soft sections of the show, is intense and never lets up from beginning to end.  Nobody under BD was able to step up and match them during Championship week and I have no argument with the 1st place results.

2008 Blue Knights Show Review

2008 Program:
Knight Reign

2008 Repertoire:
Cloudburst
Turbine
Jeux D’eau
Amazing Grace

The show opens with a trumpet solo of a minor variation on Amazing Grace as the rest of the corps performs the trademark body movement of the Blue Knights. The tubas have an awesome growling low note they repeat a couple times before the horns join in, facing backfield. The corps uniforms have been modified. The dots from the corps uniform of the 90’s are now on the left breast, above the heart.

The second piece has a definite John Mackey feel to it. More body movement from the trumpets as the mellos play the melody. Great unison rifle catch from the guard. The drill is very spread out throughout most of the piece. The horns have a very balanced sound from top to bottom. The first Trittico quote of the show comes near the end of the piece. Expect more as this is an anniversary show.

I don’t recognize the next piece, but am assuming it is the Ravel. Lots more body movement in the horns, as well as drill, as the pit is featured during this section of the show. Bass drums trade off with the pit as the music develops. The horns perform a great rippling visual effect up and down the 50 to finish the song, reminiscent of the Cavaliers.

Piece #4 is another piece I don’t recognize. First big horn hit of the show in a while at about 7:30. This is a great sounding hornline, but I feel like they’re getting gyped from playing and showcasing their talent. Drumline has a feature up front now as the horns play behind them.

The closer needs some work from a visual standpoint, but the horns collapse into a company front before bringing back Amazing Grace. The guard uses colored silks, basically forming a rainbow across the field. I don’t understand the ending to the show at all. They finish reprising the final chords of their 2006 Barber show, but it doesn’t fit with everything else they played up to that point.

I don’t really get this show. The music lacks impact, the horns don’t even play for almost a quarter of the show, and the selections don’t really tie into one another. Yet, for some reason, this show is placing as high as 8th, which, I assume, is purely on the talent level of the members. Blue Knights have been accused of being esoteric and not connecting with the fans in the past, but this show doesn’t seem to give the corps a chance to connect, either with the fans or with a coherent theme. This is the third time I’ve listened to this show and I’ve had a difficult time concentrating because there just isn’t much musically to hold my interest. I see this show trading off with Boston for the 8th and 9th spots, but it’s possible Blue Knights could drop to 10th if Blue Stars continue their surge this season.

2008 Santa Clara Vanguard Show Review

2008 Program:
3hree

2008 Repertoire:
The Chairman Dances
The Man in the Bath
Eclipse
Cloudburst

The guard starts the show in business suits on side 2 of the field. I don’t know how these fit into the show theme yet. The horns and tenors are on side 1 in a block triangle formation, horns on the outside. The rest of the drum line is on the back sideline. The trumpets play on mutes to begin the show.The horns unwrap out of the triangle, circle around in three individual lines, then wrap back into the triangle. The opening drill, while fun to watch and full of Pete Weber goodness, is dirty, which is most apparent in straight line formations. The horns finish the Chairman Dances opening intro drill in a Star of David formation, which is essentially six small triangles, another reference to the show theme. The drill is very kaleidoscopic and is intricate while easy to follow. The guard has a lot of equipment work during the main section of the opener, Man in the Bath, which is always a plus, and they seem to achieve it will. I only say seem to as I am not a guard expert and have a hard time watching both the guard and the drill at the same time. Drill usually wins out since I know that better. The corps performs a version of their “T Push” move from the late 90’s/early 00’s for the final hit of the opener, then turn backfield and wrap back into a triangle, this time on side 2, as the pit plays the final notes of Chairman Dances.

The second piece, Eclipse, is a new piece for me, and makes me think of The Mummy with an Egyptian feel to the music. The drum break after the first hit of this piece seems to be shortened, which is too bad as I think the drum writing for SCV this year is the best it’s been since 2004. Man in the Bath is a very aggressive piece and one I find myself listening to repeatedly, especially when the corps goes into a jam session near the end. Once again, the horns finish the piece in a triangle formation.

To open Cloudburst, the horns turn backfield and move the triangle across the field, dissolving it as it moves. The closer has been the weakest section of the show this year for Vanguard, but they have been making changes throughout the season and it is starting to come together. There still isn’t much of an impact to the closer, however and, until the big finish, you’re pretty much left hanging. The big finish is big, however, and is led off with the Vanguard yell while ending with one final triangle formation as the cymbals perform the Viper in the middle of it.

The closer definitely holds Vanguard back. The first two-thirds of this show are some of the most exciting moments in drum corps this year, but you lose all of that once Cloudburst starts. I almost feel as if the design staff had a fourth piece in mind and hoped to use Cloudburst as a transition piece between the intensity of Man in the Bath and what would serve the corps as their closer. Instead, they’re trying to make Cloudburst do both and it just doesn’t quite work. Because of the closer alone, I don’t see SCV placing higher than 5th this year and wouldn’t be surprised if they finished 7th.