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Saturday, July 30, 2011

In The Lot

Like most drum corps fans, I enjoy spending the time before a show in the lot. For me, in most cases it's been tailgating before the show instead of checking out lot warmups.

I'm headed to Carolina Crown's NightBEAT tomorrow, and a few things are keeping me out of the tailgate lot this time around. One, it is supposed to be God-awful hot, and while I cut my tailgating teeth in Tampa, FL, It's supposed to be pretty brutal, and my usual crew and I are foregoing it this year. That said, since this year's NightBEAT is a Tour of Champions event, there are new things to check out. The pre-show activities start a good deal earlier than the show itself, and I look forward to those, though having seen few thorough accounts of the Tour of Champions concept that didn't come from the league itself, I don't know entirely what to expect.

But this time I will hit the warmup lots, and I expect it should be a great time. After all, TOC events feture eight of the top corps in the activity, so they should be a pleasure to watch. And while I remain a cream team supporter, you all know I stan for Vanguard's cymbals. You know you'll find me over there. In the mean time, I'm watching folks weigh in on DCI Atlanta on Twitter right now. Can't wait!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Band on the Road Project

Welcome 80 Minutes of Regulation readers, band nerds/heads/dorks/aficionados, college football fans, and anyone else who may have stumbled by!

I invite you to participate in the Band on the Road Project. The goal is to create as comprehensive as possible of a database of college marching bands who are traveling to away games this year. While I'm admittedly approaching it from a band nerd perspective, I think it's valuable information for my fellow college football fans as well; when traveling to away games, it's nice to know if your band will be there serving up a little slice of home.

Here's where you come in: At this point, I've done all I can do with band schedules that are available online; some are not yet updated. I would love for you to help out by adding band travel that you know of at this point to the overall list. First- and second-hand sources are ideal, but by all means, if you've heard rumors, throw them in; we'll hopefully have enough folks that they'll get straightened out in due time. When adding travel, please add it both to the traveling band and to the school they'll be visiting; after all, home fans may like to know when there'll be another band in the house as well.

I started with the BCS auto-qualifying conferences out of ease of scope, not slight. I started this as one man, and bit off a manageable chunk. By all means, if you've got intel on non-AQs, FCS schools, or even Division II or III programs, feel free to add them.

I'd love your help in making this as comprehensive as it can be. Please add if you can, or share it with folks who may be able to. Thanks!

Band on the Road Project

UPDATE (8/30/2011) The Band on the Road Project is as complete as possible with the information available. In addition to the master list, a new week-by-week breakdown shows which bands are traveling during each week of the football season. The full document now includes all games featuring teams from BCS auto-qualifying conferences, as well as HBCU classics and HBCU band travel games in Division I (MEAC/SWAC and Tennessee State). I not-so-humbly believe that it's the most comprehensive document of its kind, and I aim to keep it up to date as times become final. Most importantly, it remains a public document, and I'd still love any information you can add!

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Band is On the Field! Wait, what?

Hopefully by the time this posts, the NFL lockout will be over and we won't have to resort to this.
It's an extended metaphor that's been a long time coming. You've probably heard me say before that trumpets are the marching band's wide receivers, referring largely to their (stereotypical) penchant for ego, braggadocio, and showboating. I've been playing a little bit with the idea of extending the metaphor into an entire team, and here you have it.

It's worth noting that while the earlier statement was based on the personalities of the respective players, this is based more on their functions. If you find this absurd or question how this will work, read on! Also consider that different instruments, by their very tone, timbre, and the manner in which they are used convey certain imagery. It is the justification behind Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf or Saint-Saens' Carnival of the Animals. By the same token, football positions have their respective roles and often the types of people--by size, skill, and personality--who play them.

It just so broke out that the role of the offense is played by the brass and battery percussion, while the pit and woodwinds play defense. To the guard fans out there, it's likely no surprise that you're on special teams, but unfortunately, I didn't hash out different roles; as special teams play a variety of roles, so do guard members with a variety of equipment and skills.

We'll start on the offensive side of the line of scrimmage. It should surprise no one that the action begins with the drum major, at center, setting the tempo and snapping it to the drumline (yes, the entire drumline) at quarterback, involved, as you'd expect, in every play. For those uneasy with the full battery in one position, consider the different looks and uses of the quarterback to be your instruments.

Up front, large, solid, dependable, and low (be it in a three point stance or in pitch) the tubas play the offensive line. As stated before, the trumpets are wide receivers, but this time we're talking skillset, not just personality; their speed an agility leads to the ball often being in their hands for big plays. With a related skillset, the mellophones play the role of tight end; a little bigger and not necessarily as fast as the wide receivers, but able to block and share in the duties (long phrasing, for instance) of the offensive line.

In the backfield, I've got some low brass in the running back positions; specifically, the baritones/euphoniums at fullback can assist in blocking, while the trombones are more likely to break free and pick up 15 or 20 yards.

Let's cut over to defense. I'm using a 4-3 as the base set, though I'll talk a bit about other packages as well. Up front--where else would they be--we've got the pit. Based on size and roles, and using some fairly standard pit instrumentation, I'm putting timpani and bass drum/gong at the defensive tackle positions, while the speed and agility of the marimbas and xylophones will come off the end. Backing the line, we've got the saxophones; the tenor sax at middle linebacker will quarterback the defense, with the range to play in a deep center field role. At the strongside position, the baritone sax has the bass to shred the offensive line when needed, and a range equipped to take on the running back. The alto sax will play on the weakside; the range and agility allows for pass coverage matching up with wide receivers.

The clarinets and flutes were perhaps the toughest to place, given that, stereotypically, they are probably the farthest in characteristics from a football player, but I found them a home in the secondary, specifically with the clarinets at the cornerback positions and the flutes at safety. I mentioned other packages earlier; if you need to put in a nickelback, bring in a piccolo (I actively avoided saying picc-leback. Whoops.)

If you follow both and have opinions on how I put the team together, I'd love to hear them! If you either follow football but not marching band or vice versa, consider this your Young Person's Guide to the Marching Band/Football Team. Hope you enjoyed!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Flying the Flag

A Rita's Water Ice (yes, I'll always call it water ice) just opened here in Greensboro. If you're not familiar, Rita's is a Delaware Valley-based chain that sells water ice, custard, and various combinations thereof. While they're few and far between here, they are ubiquitous back up home. Not surprisingly, bringing one to town brought us all out.

They opened on Saturday, and to date, I've been three days (it's Tuesday, and the day's not yet over). The first day, despite acknowledging it had a dressing-up-for-the-Harry-Potter-premiere feel to it, I intentionally wore a Delaware shirt. I got little more than a knowing glance from the young lady in the Ryan Howard jersey/shirt.

The second day, I again made it a point to represent, this time throwing on a Sixers hat (fact: you're never too far from a piece of Philly sports paraphernalia at my house). It was like a reunion. I exchanged pleasantries with folks from Jersey, Norristown, and Philly, and had a conversation with a guy from South Philly who went to Wilmington High School

Sports--bringing people together.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

4th of July

This 4th of July, I came out of retirement. Sort of. As you all know, I'm a band fan and enthusiast, but what I mention less often--though it's fairly evident--is that I"m a has-been. I haven't played the drums in an organized fashion or been a part of an actual band since I departed undergrad eight years ago. I changed that earlier this week in a quest for a world record.

In an event put on and mostly publicized by a local television station, there was an attempt here in Greensboro to gather 1,776 drummers to set a new world record for number of snare drummers doing a roll at once (the record was set at 1,682 in Germany). When I first caught wind of the attempt, I knew I was in, and my parents set out to grab my snare out of storage in Delaware. Various snafus led to a new snare for me--thanks, Mom!--and as expected, I headed downtown on the 4th to participate.

It was hot. Powerful hot--somewhere in the mid-90s at showtime. Still, it was a fun experience to be among drummers from what seemed to be every walk of life in the contained area where the attempt took place. I had joked earlier that week about the egos that would be present if it were truly 1,776 snare drummers in one place, but the opportunity to be with that many drummers, regardless of primary drum or avocation, was quite cool (though my kingdom for a bass or a set of quads!) And while we left the event not yet knowing if we made the record--we didn't, although we apparently set a new record for the US--I think those involved had a good time. I know I did.

Meanwhile, a couple hundred miles away...

I got an e-mail as an alum of UMBC's Down and Dirty Dawg Band that alums were welcome to join the band in the 4th of July parades in Arbutus and Catonsville. Clearly I'm no longer in the Baltimore area, but I was glad to hear my old band was doing this. To rewind nearly a decade, it was the summer of 2002that we got the first field drums for the pep band, and for Homecoming 2002, we took to the streets for the first time in the Homecoming parade. In spring of 2003 (coincidentally following, but unrelated to, the release of the movie Drumline) the Dog Pound Drumline made its debut, performing at FunkFest. I crossed the stage after that semester, but I've been watching the band like a proud poppa ever since, and it's so good to see them doing big things.

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