I Ran Away with the Drum Corps


Day 9

June 30, 2017 – Rainbows and other Arcs at DCI Central Indiana


Here I sit inside the cool Eastbrook High School in Marion, Indiana near Muncie. It’s pushing 90 degrees and very muggy outside. Once again I arrived after breakfast. Today is my last day with the corps for this tour. I will be leaving tonight after the show. I have adopted a drum corps brother, Garry the board member. He has an extra ticket and I will be watching the show from the stands tonight. The kids are in great spirits, laughing and telling stories during lunch. I’m pretty sure Anthony the chef and Steve the prop guy will be fine without me. Today, I will do the pots and pans for one last time as a parting act with Anthony. I don’t think Anna will need help tonight pushing the synth cart and the loading and unloading of the pit trailer is well handled by the rest of the staff and pit members. This will be the first show of the season that I will be a fan in the stands again.

I want to return to the questions about my presence here and why I am following a drum corps. I have concluded that this was clearly a fantasy of mine that needed to be fulfilled. Did it inspire me to write again? Yes. Did it get me away from the din of our media and politics? Yes. Did I meet some nice and interesting people in the heartland? Yes. I have not been a complete interloper here. I feel that I have been a welcome presence. I have enjoyed pitching in for some heavy lifting as well as being generally a positive influence in my interactions with everyone. Certainly being under the influence of this spirited organization has inspired me. Now the question has been asked: Will you be coming with us again next year? I may have gotten this out of my system. Maybe not. Have I turned into a complete drum corps junky like Garry? Hmmm….yes.

What I didn’t realize before I decided to jump on board back in Ohio, was that there is a high degree of buzz in the activity about the BAC. I mentioned the creative staff changes. Gino, Colin and Michael are the maestros of brass, percussion and visual, who came from other top competing corps such as the Cadets and Carolina Crown. They have assembled a highly talented group of instructors and corps members. The operations staff clicks with the volunteers to provide the basic support of the mission keeping these talented individuals focused, fed and on the move. Jackie, Hanna, Darren, et al. bring it all together smoothly. The entire traveling operation is headed by Ron, the corps director. He was the one that gave such a good introduction at spring training community night to my uninitiated fellow Vermonters in Castleton, and inspired me to act on my fantasy. I have not been able to pin him down for an interview yet so, I will just say that this machine is running on all cylinders, operationally and creatively. Ron’s steady, quiet and deliberate approach is what helps keep an even keel on this ship. Everyone responds without question to his level of performance expectation. It has been an incredible privilege for me to be associated with such a team.

I have a strong desire to make at least one contribution that will have a lasting impact on the Boston Crusaders. Maybe one area might be sourcing some good food from Vermont to feed the kids. This is not a critique of Anthony’s hard work but, I think they could up the game of quality such as more natural and whole foods as opposed to the heavily processed, frozen and canned foods that are convenient and inexpensive. The sheer volume, and the fact that they provision along the way, makes this very challenging. The corps directors take nutrition seriously enough and they provide the kids with the proper balance of carbs and protein. However, I think they would benefit from real butter and good cheddar cheese. So, I am going to look into lining up Cabot Creamery Cooperative, located in my hometown as a sponsor. Their member farms are what keeps Vermont’s landscape open and bucolic. Maybe next year in Castleton, I can work with Anthony to prepare my famous Ginger-Bacon Burger (Get it drummers?) with grass fed beef from Kenyon’s Family Farm in Waitsfield.


It’s raining. A glance at the radar does not look good. A long train of thunderstorms is in line for Marion. Hopefully, it will pass over by show time. However, this may make for a wet ESL. I have not seen any tornado warnings on the weather forecast. There has been heavy rain in Vermont. The Mad River reached flood stage last night and is predicted to do so again tonight. There is a reason it is called the Mad. It runs in a northerly direction and can have a strong opinion when it rains hard. This rain is coming so fast now in Marion it is flooding the roads. Let’s hope the trip to the stadium goes well for the caravanning corps, as everyone is decamping from Marion and heading west after the show. I will be heading east. The corps has a run of seven of days of one housing site after another each day until they get a break. I do not think I would hold up, so it’s good that I will say my good byes for now, today.


Well, I am in the emergency room in Muncie. As I was saying good-bye to the staff, Ron asked, “But could you do me one more favor before you go?” Mason had just slipped on the gymnasium floor and landed on his elbow. The loading crew was in and out during the rain and the floor was wet. While on the way here, Mason and I had a good chat. This is his second year as trumpeter. He said that the corps is working much harder but it is way more fun and interesting this year. All of the corps members are very into the program and working for the new creative staff and instructors. We talked about life on the road, living in the bus and gymnasium floors. He mentioned how lucky he was to have a great seat partner and in a front seat on the bus.


Mother nature rules, so we are all inside the Worthen Arena at Ball State University, Muncie. Unfortunately, the thunderstorms persisted. What started out in a unique venue for DCI, the theatre, is ending in this unique venue for me now, an arena. The corps are doing standstill presentations of their programs. This is a great opportunity to hear the music even though the acoustics leave much to be desired. However, it is great to have an alternate venue so that the many drum corps fans do not go home completely disappointed. Do you like your drum corps loud?

Thanks to Mason’s seat partner and their iPhone/GPS, we found the busses in a lot on the sprawling campus and Mason returned to his corps with a wrapped elbow and no broken bones. With my credentials, they allowed me in with my backpack and Mac Air, so I am writing in the stands. The Madison Scouts just completed their performance. Cool pit! I was reminded of a story I heard from Steve the prop guy about something that happened at the Evansville performance. One of the BAC horn members blew out his knee in rehearsal that day and was on crutches. He was slowly making progress with the corps up that hill to the stadium. All the BAC corps members were too focused on getting in position to take the field to notice that he was falling behind. Suddenly, two Scouts who were coming off the field, got on each side, lifting him up the hill and onto the field so that he could join the corps to sing Giant. It was his home show. Teary.


There was an extended intermission to wait for the passing storm so that the Crusaders could unload the pit truck. I thought that they might still need my help so I walked around to the back of the arena to find the corps. While in route I saw a rainbow arcing over one of the trucks. I found the corps safely inside the area and said my final good bye to Mary-Mason and thanked her for going out on a limb and inviting me to join the corps for the month of June. As I returned to my seat, I began thinking that I have a long way to drive and I don’t know where I am going to pull off and sleep tonight. I have not made any arrangements for a hotel. I have become accustomed to sleeping in the Volvo. I decided to name her the Grey Ghost, after the drum corps that I marched in long ago. Let’s hope she gets me home with the same reliability that she got me here.

Day 10

This personal reflection of my 10-day vacation as an intern-volunteer with the Boston Crusaders, a world class drum and bugle corps, started out as a daily blog. However, I have compiled my daily entries here into this diary-style essay.

A rainbow arcing over the Boston Crusaders at

Worthen Arena, Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana.