Boxes. Lots of boxes. That’s what the first week is like “behind the scenes” at a drum corps move-in camp. It takes a lot of gear to outfit the members so they can perform at their highest level. Drum heads from REMO. Drums…and more drums…and marimbas, tympanis, vibes, you name it – from PEARL. Uniforms from STANBURY (got a couple real petite brass players and we needed some special-made uniforms!). Guard gear by the truckload from THE BAND HALL and DIRECTORS SHOWCASE. And lots of MTX shoes. Not to mention and entire set of new horns from KING. Extra snare drums from Pearl for our Snare Drum Camp. INNOVATIVE PERCUSSION sends us a box a day full of mallets and sticks. TREEWORKS CHIMES and STICKTAPE.COM are sending boxes of stuff too. As of yet those heavy ZILDJIAN cymbal boxes haven’t arrived.

Fortunately we’re at Rockford College these first 3 weeks – which is when all the boxes appear. Rockford College is also our main corps office, and the folks at the RC loading dock know us well and their patience is noble. The boxes arrive and we only move them 200 yards to the equipment truck or dorm lobby for unpacking and distribution. Not like the old days when our offices where on the 5th floor of a downtown office building. I gotta admit, I hated that elevator!

The corps is going to look like a million bucks this year. Adam Sage and legendary guard designer Tommy Keenum have created a stunning guard costume for us this season. The corps proper is still in that striking-white uniform, rest assured. Add on all the shiny new brass and percussion gear and I am proud to say we are able to outfit our members with the best equipment available. Now, a cynical reader may see the first paragraph as a shameless plug to our endorsers. Hey, you bet. And I’m not ashamed one bit. These companies have the best products on the market and are very important friends to us, and we in turn proudly do all we can to let folks in our activity know it.

Meanwhile (when I’m not moving a box around!) I’ve been able to wander the grounds a bit. All is going well. The weather has been cool and sunny and the members are working hard and having fun. JD’s “brass boot camp” is in full-swing. Imagine what you dream a great Phantom Regiment horn line to sound like. That’s what we have on our hands this year.

Drill design genius and very cool guy Jamey Thompson came in last night to meet, socialize and then spend the morning checking out the brass book. Adam Sage just got in too, the rest of his team has been in since Sunday. The guard team is extraordinary. Between the entire group they must have a dozen WGI medals – from this season alone! – and their professionalism is eveident in all they do. The guard members show more confidence than I have seen in a long time. I’m happy for them; they are good kids and deserve the best.

Yes, the drum line is still sweating it in Dallas, and last I heard all is rockin’ there too. Paul and his team have things well under control. They’ll get on a bus early Friday morning for an evening arrival in Rockford. I’ll have better drum line stories next week.

Tour Manager Brandon Stansbury has been running hard still, I spend the mornings at my desk putting finishing touches on the tour itinerary while folks like Greg Newell, John Baumgartner, Tim Farrell, Mindy Marner, Mark Patterson and other Board members get the home show set and keep the doors open, so to speak. Barb Glasscoe has the sewing crew up and running – have had a good crew in this week so far and she has an army set to come in for the weekend. Becky Nelson and Barb Janowski have the food crew ready and lined up for the first food truck meal of the season come this Friday evening. Our man Troy Montgomery has been getting all the trucks in and Bob Joosten and his team of drivers are chomping at the bit to get the charter buses, leased tractors and staff coaches in by June 15.

So … there’s just a glimpse of what goes on while those members are out there on the fields, so when they get off them the food is ready, the uniforms are clean and fitting right and the fleet is fueled and waiting!

AND … we still have a large food shipment and a big T-shirt order to come in soon. That’s right: more boxes.

Cheers! Pat