Sunday, January 28, 2007

I used to love drum corps

I used to love the drum and bugle corps activity, both as a participant and as a spectator. I don't love it anymore, though. In fact, I have absolutely no interest in drum corps anymore because there is no such thing as drum corps anymore. There hasn't been for six or seven years. Drum corps died the day DCI allowed electronics on the field.

With drum corps dead and buried, "drum corps" became unbearable to my ears. Not only did the new rules ruin the foundation of what once was drum and bugle corps, but it also sounds fucking horrible. The "artistic" yapping sucks, Carolina Crown. The hideous singing is like fingernails on a chalkboard, Cadets. Urrrghhh!!! I know there are a lot more examples I could cite here, except I no longer follow drum corps. I only watch parts of the televised broadcasts out of curiosity, on the rare occasion that I know about the broadcasts. And I haven't been to a show since 1999, even though I used to attend up to 10 or 15 shows every summer.

I received an e-mail earlier tonight from someone I marched with in the Limited Edition Drum & Bugle Corps. The body of the e-mail was simply a link to a petition for drum corps fans and participants to sign, to tell DCI they don't appreciate the changes the governing body keeps making to the already-ruined foundation of drum corps.

Well, even though I agree with most of the principles of the petition, I'm not going to sign it. Y'see, I just don't care anymore.

We told you years ago, DCI, that we didn't want the changes you proposed. We said the changes would turn drum corps into marching band, but you made the changes anyway. And then you did it again and again. You proved to me that you didn't care what your target audience wanted. Or maybe you just had a different target audience in mind--a target audience that may not have actually existed.

Drum Corps International, you are lucky you still have an audience that lets you know they don't want what you're trying to force upon them. They are doing you a favor by speaking their minds, but apparently you just keep ignoring them. And guess what, DCI: They don't need you. You need them.

You needed me, too, but you lost me, just as you lost thousands of other real drum corps fans. We don't care anymore because you made us stop caring. Don't you get it?!? And if you keep ignoring the people who do still care, there won't be anyone left to help you rebuild once the activity finally falls apart completely.

One last thing... I mean no disrespect to the yappers and singers. It's not necessarily your voices that disturb me; it's the concept. It's the clearly inherent incompatibility of drum corps and amplification.

(If anyone who still cares about drum corps wants to redistribute this rhetoric, please include a link either to this post or to


I always knew I was born 20 years too late

Yesterday while reviewing my Aimless tapes, I reached the part where Rudy Montez gave me a ride from Palm Springs to Quartzsite. As he drove, he told me a story about his son joining the military and how it changed him. Because it was late in the evening and we were in the middle of the desert, with no city lights and sparse traffic, there essentially is no viewable video footage of his story; just audio. I guess with my attention taken off the visual aspect of the footage, I paid more attention than usual to the whole spectrum of audio, not just Rudy's speech. Specifically, I noticed the music playing in the background on Rudy's satellite radio.

With the radio set to the 70s channel quietly behind our conversation, it played Let's Get It On and Atomic Dog before easing into a song I think I'd only ever heard on TV commercials for "Hits of the 70s" compilation albums. It was the song whose refrain goes something like Shannon is gone, I heard she's drifting out to sea, in a male falsetto voice. (At least that's what I thought the lyrics were. They're actually Shannon is gone, I hope she's drifting out to sea.)

Familiar with the refrain but not knowing the rest of the song very well, I immediately felt compelled to Google "Shannon is gone I heard she's drifting out to sea," to try to find out what the apparently sad song is actually about. Within a minute or two, I arrived at Henry Gross's web site. (Henry Gross wrote and recorded the song.) On his web site, Henry explains the events that inspired the song Shannon and how it all came together. It's a nice little story. (By the way, I believe the song made it all the way to #6 in 1976.)

Having enjoyed the story behind Shannon, I followed the "Contact" link at the bottom of Henry's Bio page, to send a short e-mail to Henry or his people, saying just a little more than "I thought your story was nice." As I suspected, Henry's e-mail address was not listed, and the contact e-mail address was apparently his manager's. Nonetheless, I sent the short e-mail to Henry's manager, with a greeting reading, "Hi Henry & Company," figuring there was a reasonable chance he would receive the message because it was short and "non-worshipy."

Less than four hours later, I received a response directly from Henry, saying thanks and also letting me know he was about to look at the Aimless web site (to which I'd linked in my e-mail). I thought it was really cool of him to respond and show interest in my project, so I looked more deeply into his web site, just to learn a little bit more about him.

To my surprise, I learned that Henry was a founding member of Sha Na Na (whom I loved when I was little) and played Woodstock as a member of Sha Na Na.

For those of you who have read my previous entry, 1969: Isn't that kind of freaky? I mean, on Wednesday I found out a guy I already knew had played at Woodstock with a very well known band, then on Saturday I received an e-mail from someone else who played at Woodstock with another famous band. As far as I know, before Wednesday, I'd never known or met anyone who played at Woodstock. Now two in the span of four days. Very strange.

Anyway, I've actually exchanged a few e-mails with Henry over the last 24 hours. He seems like a really cool, down-to-earth kind of guy. If I ever have any money, I might have to buy some of his music.