We continue with photos of three more drum corps that appeared at the Drums Across Cajun Field competition in late July in Lafayette, LA. A brief bio and score of each of the bands is followed by a comparison between drum corps and marching bands (circa 1960s).
Founded in 1964, Blue Stars, La Crosse, WI, earned the silver medal at the very first Drum Corps International World Championship in 1972, finishing just 0.65 of a point away from winning the inaugural event.
Their show tonight was entitled “Voodoo: I Put A Spell on You”.
Founded in 1976, Spirit of Atlanta (GA) quickly rose to prominence, finishing in sixth place in only the corps’ second season. Well known during its formative years for a huge brass sound and performances of Southern Blues, Spirit became one of the first DCI corps to partner with an educational institution and was known for several years as Spirit from Jacksonville State University. The organization has since returned to its Georgia roots, once again taking its original Spirit of Atlanta name in 2010.
“Speakeasy” was the Spirit’s show’s theme.
Madison Scouts, from Madison, WI, is one of two all-male drum corps. It was founded in 1938 by a group of Madison businessmen who decided their city should have a scout drum and bugle corps. Often referred to as just “Madison” or “the Scouts”, the corps has often been known for delivering fiery Latin-themed shows. Madison Scouts won the DCI World Championship in 1975 and 1988, and is one of the oldest continually operating drum corps competing in Drum Corps International events.
They commemorated their 75-year history with the theme: “Corps of Brothers: 75 Years of Survival”.
Watching the Drum Corps International (DCI) competition at Cajun Field in Lafayette, LA, I thought about the comparisons between marching bands and drum corps when performing on a football field.
In contrast, members of a corps are not “bound” by yard lines, but move smoothly into abstract or geometric designs. (During some of the shows in this competition tonight, there were some dance routines and en masse activities.) Moving in formations that are curved and playing with their horns facing either left or right is in contrast to our marching style when I was a member of the University of Iowa Marching Band (in 1962-64). (And if you’ve ever had the opportunity to watch a halftime show by the Stanford University marching band, you know that "organized disorder" can be the only rule for this band.)
Also, regarding marching styles, a corps marches in a smooth military style (or six steps over five yards); we marched with a high-step style involving lifting the knee with the thigh parallel to the ground and the toe pointed downward (covering five yards with eight steps). (We could accurately march five yards blindfolded on a football field; marching on a street with a military style stride in a parade, we were, well, …not quite as precise.)
Other components of a corps ensemble are the "color guard," which spin flags, rifles, sabres, and may also incorporate dance into their routines.
In a typical football season, our university marching band would prepare five or six shows, sometimes with only one week to put one together.
Man, that was great fun.