Rat a Tat
by Frank Jacobson

Rat–A–Tat #2

Whew! What a busy month it has been. Its been many years since I was a corps member touring in Nisei’s drum line bus (of course, an old school bus with no A/C or plumbing). Now, as an alumni corps member, it was traveling the 200 miles south from Whidbey Island (don’t forget the ferry ride) to Woodburn, OR, then back 200 miles for the Everett, WA, show, then back south 150 miles to Vancouver, WA, for our last show. Three shows in three nights…with me driving in my wife’s Dodge Grand Caravan with Northwest Venture’s drum instructor Jim Nevermann and my daughter, the saxophone-honking-bassoon-gurgling-flute-tooting-clarinet-tweeking mellophone player. (You may remember her from my last column.) But I must say, I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

Northwest Venture had an outstanding and lively Latin theme show written by brass caption head Garry Wolfe and percussion caption head Jim Nevermann. And with our Corps Director Charlie Thompson coordinating transportation details, the entire corps made it to the correct competition fields at the correct time! And believe it or not, the drum line pulled off our three-four to six-eight percussion feature near perfectly each night…especially the quad line! It sounded as if only one person was playing!! Such uniformity!!

Well…enough with Northwest Venture for now and me…I mean the entire tenor line…

I received several nice letters from my last column. The first from Jeff Lindner who wrote, "Nisei in '67 is definitely too cool. I mean that is really an official credential. My hat (shako?) is off to you! Through an odd series of events, beginning with following an SCV equipment trailer up I-5 last Thursday morning, I stumbled onto your column on the sCORPSboard website. Sheesh, I haven't heard the names Mitch Markovitch or Mike Ramelli in darn near three decades. Man, I cannot believe how time flies. I marched with the Toledo, OH, Glassmen (duals), the Springfield, IL, Statesmen (Drum Major), the Belleville Black Knights (snare — name Marty Hurly ring any bells?), and the (say Frog?) Cavaliers, (snare; bad year, 1973/4, but still great corps!) from the late sixties through early seventies. I appreciate your Chicago roots - Royalaires, Nisei, Des Plaines Vanguard, Skokie Imperials; of course, the Cavies goes without saying.

Well, for those of you who may remember Jeff from your drum and bugle corps, he now resides in Albany, Oregon. Jeff…not knowing where Albany is located, I must tell you that we have at least two car pools coming to Northwest Venture from Oregon twice a month. One comes from Portland and the other from Wilsonville. And by the way…we still have some drums not being used! (Shameless and free corps promotion!)

The next letter comes from David Moser who wrote, "Every battery must learn cadences, right? I mean, most corps appear at events in their local community at some time or another for fund-raising, parades, etc., where a marching cadence would be useful. So why do so few corps use them after competing in shows? Most corps now march off to a simple 3-count bass drum beat. It's so much more enjoyable to listen to (and watch!) the full battery performing a tasty street cadence as the corps passes in review. Any chance of this custom ever gaining favor again?"

Good question, David!! I’ve noticed this myself over the past few years. Fewer and fewer corps are using some form of cadence except a simple bass beat to exit the field. There has been some discussion in the newsgroup rec.arts.marching.drumcorps on this very topic. Hopefully, I can summarize the majority of the responses in very few words. Maybe even one word. TIME!!!

Back in my old days (Stop that laughing. I did not bang on logs with broken tree branches. Anyone want a 16 year old saxophone-honking-bassoon-gurgling-flute-tooting-clarinet-tweeking mellophone player?), just about every competition had a parade or other event associated with it. VFW and Legion parades were usually held after the competition with last place coming first, followed in reverse order until the winner marched last. Sponsoring organizations also held events to show their corps to its community. The reason I say "its community" is that corps were locally based. From my house, I would take any number of train lines or bus lines and attend weekly rehearsals at six corps!!

These days are now over as corps recruit internationally and have three or four day weekend camps, week-long camps, or even three week long camps in preparation for the season. Entire shows have to be learned in a matter of days instead of the Thursday evening music practice and Sunday drill practice that I remember. Now corps are pressed for time and don’t have the luxury of time to learn cadences.

I must say that a resurgence of marching off the field with a cadence is returning. This past summer, the San Francisco Renegades exited the field using a cadence. The Seattle Cascades also performed a cadence during their show’s Olympic style retreat! Perhaps a trend will begin again where the drum line will, once again, bring a roar from the stands by playing a cadence while the corps passes in review.

See ya next month! I cant wait for finals!!!



Other Rat a Tat columns:

| Rat a Tat #1 (07/03/00) | Rat a Tat #2 (08/06/00) | Rat a Tat #3 (09/12/00) | Rat a Tat #4 (03/01/01) |
| Rat a Tat #5 (07/25/01) | Rat a Tat #6 (10/25/01) | Rat a Tat #7 (02/05/02) |

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