My have we come a long ways!

In 1956 Phantom Regiment started with a handful of students from the St. Thomas (local all-male catholic high school) band and a few girls from the neighboring all-girl catholic school. They met at the downtown armory and the 25 or 30 local youngsters spent the winter putting together a small corps to do parades and attempt a field show.

Today – nearly 50 years later – Phantom Regiment starts its newest season on the campus of two colleges in two different states with over 135 young adults from across the world.

Here’s a bit of how the first weekend of the 2005 tour kicked off:

Our drum line started in Texas this weekend. Yes, Texas. Dallas. 105 degrees on Sunday! Being that most of the line – and all the staff – reside or attend school in Texas, they elected to spend a week together rehearsing on campus at the University of North Texas. Rumor has it the pit has been in air conditioning and the battery’s been on the stadium turf. These are tough guys and word is they are drumming very, very well. They’ll be rolling into Rockford this Friday, tan and ready for some cooler air we’re certain!

Meanwhile, the brass and guard moved onto campus at Rockford College all day Sunday…trickling in 5 and 10 at a time. By 9 pm almost all were in, we got dorms rooms assigned, the sewing crew (who’ve actually been on campus sewing since Saturday morning!) got set up in a larger room, meanwhile vis staffer Will Richards got a field lined to be set for Monday morning!

We’re staying in the dorms here (third year now) until June 7, at which time we’ll roll the whole army over to a nearby high school. The corps’ office is on campus, so for the first 2 weeks its very convenient – and the dorms and cafeteria meal service sure helps us “ease into” the summer lifestyle! We’ll move to Winnebago High School on June 7, allowing for 10 days of getting used to gym floors, with access to a bigger stadium with lights, which let’s us get down to business.

This week is all about section work. JD Shaw is in town doing what he terms a “brass boot camp” – basically intense technique and music work. All but 5 of our 77 brass members are here right now, and those 5 should be in by Wednesday. The guard is also in town, not only working on technique, but actually getting on the drill field. All but 2 of our 36 guard members are here now, and those two should be in by tonight.

We’re using the campus food service this week, our food truck and crew will be in Friday night. As mentioned above, the sewing crew is in already, set up and machines whirling away! Tour manger (and former DM) Brandon Stansbury arrived Saturday and has been running his feet off. The nice thing about a college campus is all the great amenities: dance studio for the guard, lots of fields, dorms, cafeteria, etc. The bad thing is you do some walking!

I’m typing this at about 11 am Monday morning, and all is seemingly running smoothly: the guard’s in the dance studio and the brass is out by the tennis courts working away.

On friday we’ll give the brass and guard the afternoon off while the drummers arrive, then meet as a full corps that evening and kick it into high-gear full-show-production mode!

We’ll keep you posted as much as we can these next two weeks. And don’t forget, Tuesday evening, June 7 at Rockford’s Sinnissippi Park band shell will be our first public show – a free concert with special guests Boston Brass!

OK…I’m off to make my rounds! Pat