As I type this the sounds of our front ensemble drift down the stairwell and into the corps office. Rather poetic and inspiring, really.

The corps is currently on campus at Rockford College, which is where we also have our corps headquarters. Rockford College is a small, 4-year college of about 1,000 students, nestled in a wooded area in the heart of Rockford. We’ve been here since 2003.

It’s a nice set-up to start the season, and we are grateful to the entire RC community for their hospitality. We stay in dorms, and the first week we even eat in the college cafeteria, then last Friday our own food truck rolled and in the always amazing Regiment Food Crew kicks into gear and serves 180 people 4 meals a day.

Did I say how nice it is to have our office in the same place as the corps rehearses?

The campus is quite nice. The front ensemble has a large carpeted zone, we have several fields to use, a nice gym and a lot of shade trees too. Again, just a great way to ease into the corps lifestyle while kicking into the 12-hour rehearsal days.

This years membership is truly special. A very easy-going yet determined group. The average age is just over 20 years old, we have 75 Regiment vets and another 30 with serious drum corps experience at all levels. That makes for a corps that needs little management (and that makes for a happy director!). The new members with no corps background are all very high-achieving young adults, and they fit right in and already make a positive differance.

The weather got a little warm this past weekend, and then the last two days have been a bit rainy, but it looks like cooler temps and sunny skies all through the weekend, so we’re doing fine with that.

The first week we called “boot camp”. Brass focused only on brass stuff, guard only on guard stuff and the drum line was off in Texas doing their thing. It really solidifies the foundation and teamwork of each section on many levels. On Friday the whole corps came together and we now focus on drill, marching and playing and of course, the rehearsal and team aspects we’ll need to grow as the tour takes off.

All is on track; of that there is no doubt. We have a full corps in house, though 3 members head back for a day or two to graduate. For the most part we’ve had every member in since day one. That’s dedication my friends.

Barb and her wardrobe crew have been on overdrive. Becky, Gail, Robert and the food crew are in and on a roll already. It’s been quite nice to have Rick Valenzuela here (I had to miss 3 days to attend a nephew’s graduation – Rick stepped in like he’d been here all his life). Lot’s of boosters in helping out, including Tom Moore all the way in from Pennsylvania to make those Clock Tower bus runs! Really, an entire team of volunteers has been the backbone of this corps, and once again are in and making it all happen. Quite humbling, really.

I suspect many of you reading this want to know about the show. Well…the show seems cool and the staff tells me we are right on schedule with everything. Here’s where I let ya in on a secret: I have very little to do with the on the field production. In fact, oftentimes I know the least about the show as anyone. Dan Farrell is program coordinator and has been nearly every year since 1993 (which speaks for itself doesn’t it?), and the design and teaching team are pros. I trust them, and I don’t have the moxie to think I know better anyway. I take great pride in providing the staff with a pool of great members and making sure the members are taken care of. In turn, the staff gets to do their job without me over their shoulder. It seems to be working for us, so we roll with that!

What I do know is that the staff is very excited about the corps and the show. Hey, what corps isn’t this time of year, right? What we specifically are enjoying is the stability and continuity the team brings. JD Shaw and Paul Rennick are on their game with the music. Adam Sage and his guard program are exactly what one would expect from an Adam Sage program. Jamey Thompson and the Emmert brothers, along with their visual team, are firing on all cylinders. Hey, these are the guys who brought us back into the top 2 in visual last year at finals. So yeah, it’s all working.

Some very cool surprises in store for you, both visually and musically. Tommy Keenum and The Band Hall, along with Adam, have created guard costuming that outdoes even last years, believe me. New corps proper uniform adjustments will actually be added as first tour moves along. Much like last year we’ll add as we go to keep the show fresh and in line with the inspiration that’s drawn as the members begin to take ownership of it all. And – look for a musical twist that has never been done in drum corps before. Sunday evening, June 11 is our Dress Rehearsal. Come on by.

This weekend we break the routine a bit and do a parade in tiny Leaf River, Illinois and then head off to a private concert followed by a catered picnic for the members. We also start the first of two student camps…our popular snare drum camp, and next week our one-of-a-kind drum major camp kicks off for it’s 4th year. Tuesday evening (June 6) we do a full-uniformed outdoor concert that is always a hit. We then move from Rockford College to a nearby high school where we can turn on stadium lights and work later into the evening…and yes, get the members used to a gym floor before tour!

All is well here; the boxes are rolling in daily (food, uniforms, new horns, new drums, new pit, flag material, souvenirs). I kid that it’s like Christmas everyday, but I’m stuck being the elf! By the way, KING brass has just sent us 14 new tubas. They are BIG and sound awesome. Very “Phantom Regiment”!

I’ll try to update next week. For now know that all the members are in, happy, quite sore but healthy (and Dr. Dan is never far off when an injury occurs). We’re working hard but having a lot of laughs too.

Not a bad way to start off year number 50, eh? Thanks for your support!