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Monday, June 26, 2017


Skin is in.

There are only a few competitive or recreational summer activities where the players are traditionally clad head to toe, wrist to ankle. NASCAR, reenactments, and drum corps. In NASCAR, it's for safety; in reenactments it's for authenticity, and in DCI it's... well, we've always done it this way.

Both reenactments and drum corps owe the genesis to their military roots, and in drum corps, it's more closely tied to present-day marching bands. But despite the temperature difference, the summer activity has historically parted relatively little from their colder weather counterparts. This year may represent the largest departure from traditional uniforms, with short sleeves, no sleeves, and a variety of lighter weight materials being represented on the field. I'm certain current marching members think it's about time, and former marching members add another notch to their "back in my day..." belt. And, of course, it's probably no small coincidence that the Bluecoats just won a championship with nontraditional uniforms.

While I air musically on the traditional side, I mostly welcome this potential renaissance in uniform design. While I prefer corps pick a style and stick to it -uniformity across time, if you will - I've got no problem with them picking styles, lengths, and fabrics that will make the marching members' experience a little more pleasant.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

It Is What It Is

It was Father's Day. That means I get to do what I want, right?

Instead of holding their preview show at Gardner Webb where they do spring training, Carolina Crown brought the show home, instead showcasing in Fort Mill, where they are headquartered.With about an hour shaved off of the round trip from Greensboro, I decided a couple of weeks ago to make the trip. So after brunch and with a twinge of parental guilt for heading out on Father's Day sans the kids, I made the trip south.

I made a couple of stops along the way: First Cabela's, because #rvftamademedoit, and then a planned stop at Full Spectrum Brewing, Fort Mill's first brewery, for a bit of beer tourism. I had a couple of brews I rather enjoyed at the latter, and brought home a six of their infrared IPA - a bit of a commitment for me as a serial trier. From there, it was on to Nation Ford High School for the show.

I settled into a spot in the shade of the press box and anxiously awaited the full corps while being treated to a pit feature. A few things were immediately evident: The color of the bibbers (matte and metallic gray) and the fact that Crown was re-incorporating purple, this time in the jacket.

On to their 2017 production, It Is. I'll give the key takeaways Ive provided in a couple of other venues:
1. Trying not to fly into a curmudgeonly rage over vocal soloist.
2. Trying not to curtail curmudgeonly rage just because it's Crown.
3. This brass. On preview day. With an entire season to mature? Good GAWD.

More specifically: With very little exception, I don't want any vocals in my drum corps. What made Crown's incorporation of the vocalist all the more egregious is that she sung through the ballad. Crown's brass alone has put together some beautiful ballads throughout the years, and it's a shame, in my opinion, that they saw fit to sing over it this year.

But to my last point: The only other time I've made it to CrownPREVIEW was the year of Inferno, and I found it refreshingly human that I was hearing bumps and flaws in the hornline that are typically absent from later season shows. This year, the corps seemed to already be firing on all cylinders, so I'm really excited to see what they become.

If you had any reason to doubt it, drum corps season us upon us.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Raise High the Black and Gold.

The College World Series gets underway today. Two weeks ago, I made a stop (and subsequently, an exit) on the Road to Omaha.

I headed a half hour to my west with my kids to see UMBC take on Maryland-College Park in the loser's bracket of the Winston-Salem regional. While I was gung-ho about catching both UMBC games, I allowed reason to get the better of me and didn't hightail it out there after work on Friday evening, knowing they were guaranteed a Saturday game.

While my wife didn't travel, I took both of the little double-legacies to cheer on the Retrievers at Wake Forest. We opted for the Bojangles tailgate as a way both to get something to eat before the game, and to pop up the flags. A fellow UMBC fan suggested I might confuse folks flying a Maryland flag and a UMBC flag; I reminded him that the flagship does not own the state flag. I also chatted with a College Park fan in the lot, and surprised myself with how much I was able to offer about the team's current events, despite not following regularly.

In the shade behind home plate that housed nearly all of the spectators on that hot early June day in the south, I watched the good guys get mollywhopped and end their season to the tune of 16-2. It wasn't anything I didn't expect, and it was great to see the ovation the team got as they left the field. Too bad I couldn't get anyone to join me in singing the alma mater.
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