An epiphany

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
Hey all,

Got myself into another playing opportunity and wanted to share it here. It's not "display ready" so I'm not making any recordings yet, but just to let you know about the comraderie involved is what playing is all about.

I've been a big fan of the drum & bugle scene since my teens and during the last five years, I've been involved in a relatively new activity - the Alumni Corps activity. Junior drum corps, as many of you know, members age-out at 21 years of age. Senior corps is for the older crowd wishing to continue to participate in the activity with less involvement due to having an adult life now. What got me into it is that before I married my wife, she was a rifle in the colorguard, and had a chance to spin rifle again, so I got involved too.

Fast forward to today, there are alot of horn players who itch to play, and one organization, the Freelancers, through friendly inquiry, asked if I would come out and play drumset for their rehearsals, and their performances are just that: they stand and play with a drumset player in what they call a "mini-corps". It was exciting to say the least! Granted, even in their scores of music, no one had written out any drum parts and I was making up alot of stuff on the fly, but it was very much like playing in a big band without the improvisation (or the rest of the rhythm section - no piano, no bass). But they have a full compliment of horns to fill out their sound: contrabasses for the low end, baritones for the trombones, french horns and mellophones for the middle and sopranos for the high end.

It wasn't perfect, but it was like flying a jumbo jet! To hear 20 or so horns just take off like that - everybody doing their best Maynard Ferguson impersonation, and me in the middle of it, was somewhere I haven't been in 20 years! Every song they pulled up was some big band arrangement, or Spanish-influenced (like Chuck Mangione or Maynard stuff). They tell me they want to pull out some Tower of Power. I was even glad I brought out my own Starclassics for this one (they had a drumset I could borrow, but I never trust that).

But just the joy of playing music, where everyone is working hard to lock together while we're all trying to read stuff (someone was nice enough to loan me his lead soprano parts) and getting closer to perfection while having a great time is really where it's at. I hauled my drums 60 miles through Los Angeles freeway traffic to spend two-hours with people I don't really know (other than the fact that we were all involved in drum corps in our younger years and still like to play) - and a funnier thing occurred to me on the drive home: I'm trying to work my schedule so I can make as many of these as possible. That's hasn't happened in a long time. They are getting together a performance schedule which would end in Rochester NY in September, and although I have this Disney gig, a regular Disney job, and other music projects I'm trying to tackle, learning how to play guitar, etc.,...I can totally see myself slugging it out with these guys and trying to make as many rehearsals and performances as I can.

Remember what it makes you feel like to play - for some reason I feel like I'm 18 again - only that I play much better now.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Bo you're such a good guy. That sounds so great. If I haven't said it recently, I think you're a top notch player, who has a great attitude. You sound totally responsible and seem like a hard worker and must be a huge asset to any band you play with. Plus you can read. And you know Monique, please give her my best lol. Yea you have a pretty cool life.

Now to the gig, wow! What a sound that must have been! Sheer power and lots of it right? Couldn't happen to a more deserving guy, and it sounds like you're really having a blast. That's great man, glad to hear it. Would love to hear a clip in the future.
 

spleeeeen

Platinum Member
Go Freelancers!

Very cool experience Bo, thanks for sharing it.

In my experience, drum corps was something that once I got a taste of it, I was completely enamored. I can totally understand your willingness to pack up, drive for hours, and even be ready to hit the road to play with this group. Likely, it's the same reason people move across the country (or sometimes to another country), rehearse everyday/all day in the blistering sun, sleep on buses and gym floors, etc., all while paying to do it.

There really is nothing else like it and reading your story has brought back many great memories for me--thanks for that...and please keep us posted!

Now, how to attach your Starclassics to a harness so you can march...;-)

my best to you,

spleen
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
They tell me they want to pull out some Tower of Power.
Now that I'd like to hear!!

Great post Bo, & agree with everything Larry said. Be sure to get a clip up ASAP! Even better, a clip with you marching with the full Starclassic kit, lol (nice one Spleen!) Liking the thunder of a big horn section vibe. Can I borrow y'all for an EW & F rockfest on steroids?
 

inneedofgrace

Platinum Member
A good friend of mine from high school is a trumpet player. Up through college he played junior corp and was in the DCI competition every year. When he exceeded the age limit, he started playing the senior circuit for many years. I went to see him many times as they toured the northeast part of the country. It was an awesome experience to watch and listen to the power of this type of music. Since then I've had an appreciation for drum corp, marching bands, etc. My niece was in the Ohio State Marching band a few years ago. That was quite an experience for her.
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
Thanks for the kind words. I'll post some audio soon - out of fairness, I don't think the guys want bad rehearsal sounds going out just yet, so I'll give them more time before I go bragging about 'em.

But there is something different about this activity compared to just going out and gigging with the rock bands. It's like there's this unspoken understanding between everyone because we've all ridden on buses all night to sleep on gym floors, and rehearse out on a hot field in the middle of summer for 12 hours when you weren't traveling. I mean, the one summer I did it, I didn't see my parents for three months (at age 15), and never knew where we were when we arrived anywhere. It was just, pick your spot on the gym floor, then get your drum and get out on the field! It almost doesn't matter who you marched with, just the fact that you marched. The experience is the same.

I think this "mini corps" activity sprang to life because it really fills a void: people who aren't top notch enough for a jazz big band, but physically not really up to marching around anymore. It makes sense. There are so many players out there on horns who have chops galore but not necessarily the commitment to become a real jazz player. I think in America anyway, we might be seeing alot more of this kind of performance.

And the members do this for free. They might pay a bit to become members, but they have to get themselves to where they're performing, and they have to make these rehearsals. Everytime I read here how someone is complaining about issues with their rock bands not being the best because they can't commit to anything, I will point to this activity. There's absolutely no money in it to be made, it's just do a great job, and if you play a stadium that's full and everybody screams, that's all you get!

On a technical note, this might be the only way I can hone my skills at playing clave with my right hi-hat foot! Finally a situation where I can use it!
 

Zickos

Gold Member
Sounds like a gas! I wish there was something like that in my area. Where do you practice, indoors or out? If out, hard surface or grass? Are you doing any performances in the near future? I once had to set up my drum set on a football field for a ball game and I bolted it to plywood so it could be moved in a hurry.
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
Sounds like a gas! I wish there was something like that in my area. Where do you practice, indoors or out? If out, hard surface or grass? Are you doing any performances in the near future? I once had to set up my drum set on a football field for a ball game and I bolted it to plywood so it could be moved in a hurry.
Right now we're rehearsing indoors. Performances would be outside, and some inside in gyms.
 
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