Weekly Feature

2017-07-27 / Lifestyles

Stop and snare

Top drum corps to perform at 20th annual Drums Along the Waterfront
by HOLLY N. LIPKA, Reporter


Blue Devils percussionists perform at a previous Drums Along the Waterfront, an event featuring the top drum corps in the world. This year, eight of them will compete for the “Tour of Champions” title on Aug. 6 at New Era Field in Orchard Park. Blue Devils percussionists perform at a previous Drums Along the Waterfront, an event featuring the top drum corps in the world. This year, eight of them will compete for the “Tour of Champions” title on Aug. 6 at New Era Field in Orchard Park. Imagine a marching band combined with synchronized dance movements and the artistry of a Broadway production. That’s what an audience can expect from a drum corps performance. “When I describe a drum corps, I like to say it is a marching band on steroids,” said Matt Tichy, director of social media and school outreach as well as a previous drum corps performer for the Blue Stars and Bluecoats. “The members of the drum corps are essentially musical athletes.”

Eight of the top drum corps in the world will compete for the “Tour of Champions” title at the 20th annual Drums Along the Waterfront at 7 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 6, at New Era Field in Orchard Park. In total, they hold 41 Drum Corps International World Champion titles.


A Bluecoats color guard member performs at an earlier Drums Along the Waterfront. The Bluecoats are based in Canton, Ohio, and are the reigning Drum Corps World Champion and Drums Along the Waterfront “Tour of Champions” titleholder. A Bluecoats color guard member performs at an earlier Drums Along the Waterfront. The Bluecoats are based in Canton, Ohio, and are the reigning Drum Corps World Champion and Drums Along the Waterfront “Tour of Champions” titleholder. Each of the teams comprises 150 musical athletes ages 14 to 21, playing brass or percussion or making up the color guard. They perform in a variety of styles such as jazz, pop, swing, classical, show tunes, symphonic and marches while dancing and moving in harmony.

“In life, there always seem to be musicians on one side and athletes on the other side, but here it’s the marriage of those,” said Jack Gaylord Jr., director of Drums Along the Water front.

After auditioning in the winter prior to each summer season, members rehearse 12 hours a day for 30 days straight before touring the country to places such as Indiana, Massachusetts, Florida, California and Washington. While touring, dozens of drum corps perform 35 shows over the course of 60 days in competition with each other.

“Over the summer, we will put approximately 800 hours of rehearsal into our show so that we can have the absolute best product to perform for our audience members,” said Tichy. “The teams travel by night, so it does not take away practice time and often sleep in school gyms.” While this regime may seem intense, Gaylord said it pays off.

“They’re unbelievable,” he said. “They are amazing musicians and athletes, and are the best in the world of what they do.”

The eight participating drum corps and where they will be staying in preparation for the event are as follows:

• Blue Devils of Concord, California, have been Drum Corps International champions 17 times and have finished in the top five for the last 31 consecutive years. The group will be housed at Martin Road Elementary School in Lackawanna.

• The Cadets of Allentown, Pennsylvania, will stay at Depew High School and are 10-time Drum Corps International champions. The group was founded in 1934 as the Holy Name Cadets.

• Santa Clara Vanguard of Santa Clara, California, celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. The group has six Drum Corps International Championship titles and will stay at Springville-Griffith Institute High School.

• Blue Stars of La Crosse, Wisconsin, are four-time Drum Corps International Open-Class World champions and will be housed at West Seneca West High School.

• Phantom Regiment of Rockford, Illinois, is a two-time Drum Corps International champion and will be staying at Pioneer Senior High School in Yorkshire.

• Carolina Crown of Fort Mill, South Carolina, was founded in 1988 as the Charlotte Drum Corps Association and has one Drum Corps International Championship title. Members will be housed on the Erie Community College South Campus in Orchard Park.

• Blue Knights of Denver, Colorado, have been a Drum Corps International finalist more than 20 times since the corps’ inception in 1958. They will stay at Akron High School.

• Bluecoats of Canton, Ohio, are the reigning Drum Corps World Champion and Drums Along the Waterfront “Tour of Champions” title holder. They have consistently placed in Drum Corps International’s elite “Top 12” since 1987. They will be housed at Holland High School.

Advance tickets for the event range in price from $25 to $45, with children ages 12 and younger admitted at half-price. Discounts are also available for seniors, members of the military and groups.

To learn more about the event, visit www.drumsalongthewaterfront.org or visit the Drums Along the Waterfront Facebook page.

Return to top