Box Center Episode 2010-7 – Pre-Edit Cut

Here is last night’s episode of the Box Center podcast, number 2010-7, direct from Talkshoe. I haven’t done anything to it yet, but wanted to get something up for you to listen to. I hope to have the edited version up today or tomorrow.

Enjoy!

Box Center Episode 2010-7

1992 Glassmen – My Rookie Year

This is my rookie year in drum corps. It was a tough year as the corps was on the brink of making Finals for the first time, missing the cut by just one tenth of a point. It was also tough because the corps had to learn how to deliver this show, being all New Age music. I think you can tell from this final performance of 1992, however, that we figured it out.

Thanks to Sam Signorelli for finding this video.

Glassmen 1992 from Leif Hall on Vimeo.

An Unexpectedly Enjoyable Memorial Day

Yesterday, I woke up with a simple plan: Enjoy the holiday weekend. At the time, “enjoy” would have been defined by cutting the grass, doing the laundry, helping Rachel further summer proof the home, and slacking. Heck, it’s a holiday weekend, after all, and a chance to reflect on those who have protected our country and what it stands for throughout it’s long history. Little did I know, however, that my plans would change and I would find myself two states away from home, sweating away in 80 degree heat before 10AM this morning, and LOVING IT.

It all started when I was sitting at home yesterday afternoon. Rachel and I were fooling around on our respective computers when I call came in over my Google Voice line. I didn’t recognize the number, although I did recognize the area code as Erie, PA. The caller was Gary Matczak of the Erie Thunderbirds and he left a message asking about my intentions for Memorial Day. The T-Birds were performing in the Dunkirk, New York, Memorial Day parade and, even though it would be “a long haul”, as Gary put it, for me to attend, he wanted to know if I would be there.

I had known about the parade, having been involved on and off throughout the winter and spring with the corps, but hadn’t planned on going as it’s a three hour drive and, as I mentioned earlier, I was looking forward to slacking. What caught my mind, however, was the fact that Gary was checking to see if somebody located as far away from Dunkirk as I was would be at the parade. That made me wonder if maybe the horn turnout wasn’t that large and Gary was looking to fill it up as much as possible. After talking things over with Rachel, I decided I would take part in the parade after all. A quick stop at Priceline to grab a cheap hotel room, a run upstairs to pack, and I was Off On the Road to Dunkirk!

I got to my hotel, the Days Inn in Fredonia, at about 12:15 AM, got checked in, and pretty much flopped over as soon as the door closed to my hotel room. I will say that, while the Days Inn – Fredonia won’t win any awards for contemporary design or decor, it is a functional hotel if all you need is a place to crash for the night, especially if you’re only paying $60 total for the night. They even had two self serve waffle makers at the continental breakfast table the next morning! That’s a great way to start your day!

I headed over to the meeting site for the corps and found a few people had already arrived. It turned out that the parade step-off time was 11:30, not 11:00, so we were basically gathering early and had plenty of time to kill. That wasn’t an issue as it gave us all time to catch up since the last time we saw each other, which, in my case, was over a month ago. All in all, we had a pretty good turnout, with a strong drum line and 15 horns. We also had time to talk to some of the Western New York Drum Corps Alumni members who were also marching in the parade, including Steve Cooley, a baritone player and instructor with WNYDCA and a drum corps legend. He and I both prefer playing on two-valve horns, so we tend to hype on that whenever we’re in the same place.

When the time came to move the corps towards the parade route and warm up, a fun thing happened. As we were walking to the warm-up site, we passed by the WNYDCA horn line. A few of us stopped to watch and listen. Before we knew it, Steve had invited us to join in the warm-up. It was a blast standing with fellow drum corps fanatics and performers, at least until they started playing their music, which I knew none of, but I at least got to listen to it and enjoy it.

The T-Birds then moved to a shady spot in front of a building and warmed ourselves up. Apparently, nobody told us that this was the first time the corps had played outside all year. The horns really tuned up and listened to one another well and were ready to go real fast. Mr. Cooley even snuck over and joined in on the warm-up. For playing on a chrome horn, Steve has a sweet tone quality. I’m going to have to find excuses to play with him again.

Now it was time to head over to our starting point for the parade. As we waited our turn to join in the festivities, both the Thunderbirds and the Western New York Drum Corps Alumni members made sure to applaud the parade units passing in front of us, including another drum corps and the Dunkirk High School and Middle School marching bands. There was a lot of enthusiasm from the units, which meant, to us, that the crowds were going to be ready for us to blow their faces off!

Our turn to step off came, and we quickly got into performance mode. We formed up our parade block and started marching down the street to the T-Birds’ street beat. Our parade songs, two of which I learned this morning as I didn’t have the music before today, consisted of Grand Old Flag, Stars and Stripes, and This Is My Country, patriotic charts guaranteed to entertain the parade crowd. We alternated between the street beat and playing one of those songs while on the move, which was for most of the parade as the units kept moving pretty consistently throughout. Before we knew it, we were at the reviewing stand. Here, we stopped and played a couple Thunderbird standards: Jezebel and Magnificent Seven, which were great excuses to play loud and blow people away. We left the stand playing Stars and Stripes and quickly found ourselves in a nearby park, finding the first shade we could get under. The parade was a complete success.

Now the fun really begins. After walking back to where we all parked, we were treated to a great cookout by the Dunkirk Firemens’ Exempt Club. Hot dogs, hamburgers, and drinks galore were had by all. I had my share, wolfing down two dogs and a burger, along with a beer for good measure. Hey, it’s Memorial Day, all three of those food items are required, aren’t they? Before long, though, it was time for me to hit the road and head back home. I said my goodbyes and promised both the corps and myself that I would look at the summer schedule and see when I could play again with them. It feels good to play on a bugle and, unlike a lot of drum corps performers, I like parades, even if they are glorified basics blocks, since it’s another opportunity to perform and entertain, and I can’t wait to do it again.

Memorial Day Plans

For those of you in the Dunkirk/Fredonia, New York, area, I will be performing with the Erie Thunderbirds tomorrow in Dunkirk’s Memorial Day parade. The parade starts at 11:30 AM on Lake Shore Drive West at Memorial Park.

Full details for the parade can be found at http://www.observertoday.com/page/content.detail/id/540697.html.

More information about the Erie Thunderbirds can be found at http://eriethunderbirds.com/.

I hope to see you there!

2010 DCP Box Center Podcast Returning June 1st

Now that I’m done ripping on American Idol every Tuesday night (Crystal should have won!), I’m ready to get the podcast back together.

Starting this coming Tuesday, June 1st, the Drum Corps Planet Box Center podcast is back!

I’ll be recording the podcast starting at 8PM Eastern/5PM Pacific. You’re welcome to join in by going to http://www.talkshoe.com/tc/13937. You can listen to the live broadcast there and even join in via the chat room or by phone!

I’ve already started working on potential guests for the podcast, but I want to know who YOU want to hear from. If you have any suggestions for guests on my show, feel free to send them to editor@dcpnews.com. The more interest I see in certain guests, the harder I’ll push to get them on the show.

Of course, I’ll also be talking about the latest news and events happening in drum corps, so there will never be a dull moment on the show!

Check it out starting on Tuesday, June 1st!

2010 American Idol – Top Two

[Howard Cosell voice]

This is it, ladies and gentlemen. Crystal Bowersox versus Lee DeWyze for the American Idol Heavyweight Title. My name is Kevin Gamin and I welcome you to The Medi-Nerd website and blog. This is a magical night for all involved, especially for the two remaining contestants, but, most of all, for Simon Cowell, who is preparing to complete his amazing run as judge on this program. I can’t tell you the excitement which permeates the Nokia stage, mainly because I, myself, am not truly there. I will say, however, that Crystal has won the coin toss and will begin tonight’s festivities. Each contestant will perform three songs, three final opportunities to make their case to be the next American Idol. Who will win? I cannot say. I will say, though, that I am honored and privilaged to bring this night to you.

[/Howard Cosell voice]

Lee DeWyze, performing “The Boxer” – OK, I was mad about this song choice as there is NOTHING inspirational about this song. Lee sounds a little sharp on the performance during the first verse.  I’m not sold on this choice for the final night, but he’s not dying on the stage, so I guess the judges will gush over his performance.  The China cymbal crash they’re using for effect pales in comparison to the original composition and just sounds silly, though. I’m not convinced this is the way to start the show.

Crystal Bowersox, performing “Me and Bobby McGee” – Wow, Crystal sounds sharp, too. I think the nerves are hitting both contestants so far tonight. I’m also not sure about this song choice, either, unless Crystal really starts belting it out during the second half. This isn’t a kill shot so far. It is the second half of the song, though, where things pick up, but, still, I’m left lacking. This was good, not great, and GREAT is what is DEMANDED at this point.

Lee DeWyze, performing “Everybody Hurts” – Why on EARTH would you pick this song for Finals???? This is a depressing song and, no matter how much you “emote”, you’re just not going to get the effect you want. Lee just let Crystal take the lead without singing her second song. This is a Semifinals mistake which keeps you from getting to the Top 12. I’m not even waiting for the song to end, I’m proclaiming this performance a failure.

Crystal Bowersox, performing “Black Velvet” – I like this song and think it can fit Crystal’s style, but this feels a little too manic for me. The song does have a laid back Southern feel to it which I’m missing in this performance. I do feel better about the performance halfway through, but the trend tonight seems to be weak starts, ramping up to full speed midway through the song. I’m just not feeling this particular performance, though. I have yet to experience something special from what I’m hearing. Strong ending to the performance, though, so I think Crystal maintains her lead on Lee through two songs.

Lee DeWyze, performing “Beautiful Day” – Um, shouldn’t your first single be an original song? Oh, well, Idol never was one for originality. Heck, they even dumped the songwriting contest because the songs sucked so much. Lee’s taken the key of this song down and, for me, that takes energy from the performance. Lee, do you think Bono would approve of this performance? You’re not doing bad, mind you, but, yet again, I have yet to be inspired by your performances tonight. Unlike earlier, this feels a little flat for me, both in pitch and emotion. I’m just waiting for the song to end. Lee’s only going to win if enough teenybopper girls vote for him cuz he’s cute, which is probably what will happen because this show is NEVER about being a singing competition.

Crystal Bowersox, performing “Up to the Mountain” – I don’t know this song, but this, again, seems right in Crystal’s wheelhouse, and, so far, she’s the best job of the night. Really like the backup singers on this song, too. Nice dynamic contract midway through the song. Crystal really channels the Eva Cassidy and Janis Joplin styles well. I think Crystal just sealed the deal. Not that Lee isn’t a great performer, but, BASED ON TONIGHT, Crystal is the better performer.

The simple fact is that Crystal improved with each performance tonight, culminating in one of the best performances of the season. Lee, while not performing terribly, did not bring the emotion he needed to win tonight and basically flatlined his way throughout the show. From a performance standpoint, Crystal is clearly the winner. As I stated earlier, however, there’s a large teenage girl voting base which will push for Lee no matter what because he’s “cute” and “hot”. That worries me.

2010 American Idol champion – Crystal Bowersox

2010 American Idol – Top 3

Just two more weeks before another season of American Idol ends. Personally, I’m ready for it to go away.  I’ve got a podcast to do and Tuesday night’s my regular night. Any show that decides that Casey’s a better singer than Mike is a show that I really need to rip apart. This week has no mentor, but will have each singer perform two songs. One chosen by them, the second selected for them. Let’s not waste time, shall we?

Hang on, I’ve gotta get this off my chest – RANDY JACKSON, YOUR BOOING OF SIMON COWELL EVERY WEEK HAS LONG AGO BECOME LAME AND ANNOYING. PLEASE SHUT THE HELL UP.

Casey James, performing “OK, It’s All Right With Me” for his song choice – This song doesn’t really do much for me. Nothing is happening at all with this song. The crowd isn’t really into it, either, clapping along but not much else. Casey sounds…OK. You’re first on and you only have to survive two more shows to be the champ, yet that’s all you can come up with? Casey really should have gone home two weeks ago and he keeps proving me right with every song he sings. Right now, it’s Crystal and Lee for the final showdown next week, but there’s another song for Casey and two songs for the other singers.

Crystal Bowersox, performing “Come To My Window” for her song choice – Already a better performance than Casey and she hasn’t even started yet. It’s all song choice here. Melissa Etheridge is right up her alley. The down opening with harmonica is an interesting start, but she jumps right into the regular tempo as soon as she starts singing.  Problem is, though, that she isn’t belting this song out like she should. Crystal is holding back for some strange reason, which this song does NOT call for. This is disappointing for me, because, as the judges will say, this is the time to stand out. Playing a little harmonica won’t do that.

Lee DeWyze, performing “Simple Man” for his song choice – Of the three personal song choices, this was the best, by far. I’ve never been much of a Skynard fan, and I don’t know this song that well, but Lee delivered the mail. There was a definite emotion which the other two singers could not pull off. The judges are totally gushing over the performance, and, for once, I agree with them. I’d even consider buying that track.

My picks after Round One:
1. Lee DeWyze
2. Crystal Bowersox
3. Casey James

Casey James, performing “Daughters” for the judges’ song choice –  OK, this song isn’t any more interesting than what Casey chose, but I don’t see Simon ripping Kara and Randy for picking this song. What’s worse, Casey seems to have forgotten what singing in tune is. At least Casey gets to play a five second guitar solo, but who cares? Please, America, make the right choice and send Casey home. He’s the weakest voice and the least interesting performer.

Crystal Bowersox, performing “Maybe I’m Amazed” for the judges’ song choice – Sorry, but anything Paul McCartney wrote after The Beatles just annoys me, and this song is on the list, although Crystal does have a chance to make up for her first performance. I do like the performance better than her first, and she does put more energy into this one, but I’m still not 100% sold, and I’m a Bowersox fan. Lee will have to suck on his second song for Crystal to move up to my top spot this week.

Lee DeWyze, performing “Hallelujah” for the judges’ song choice – Yes, Simon, we’ve heard this song before. A lot. I LOVE this song when it’s done right (Jeff Buckley, for example), so Lee’s got a LOT to live up to with this song. The song does sit in Lee’s wheelhouse, but both Lee’s performance and the arrangement are waaay to overproduced. Leonard Cohen called, he’d like his song back. Wow, I think I might have to punch Lee in the face for destroying that song.

It’s Crystal and Lee next week, no doubt. Otherwise, America totally sucks.