45 rehearsals, give or take a couple. A guesstimate of 9,000 miles traveled on Greyhound, between Louisville and Cincinnati. Rolls of athletic tape and Kinetic tape. It all came down to a road trip to Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
Thursday was a logistics morning and afternoon for me: making sure that I had medicine packed, wallet/phone/keys/bracelets on me, music/towel/water jug packed, and so on. I was to meet the CT buses at 11:45 PM; my Greyhound was supposed to leave at 7:10 and get to Cincy around 9:00.
My bus LEFT Louisville at 9:20.
I ended up at the meeting spot at 11:38 – WAY too close for comfort.
Speaking of comfort, I didn’t get a ton of sleep on the CT bus – maybe 3 hours total – but we got to our rehearsal site… although Columbus traffic and a slow Burger King made us nearly 2 hours late. This led to a very time-crunched Morning Block rehearsal on Friday. We basically just warmed up for 45 minutes before lunch.
After lunch, we rehearsed for a little over 3 hours. This was one of the hardest rehearsal of the season, in terms of the sheer amount of reps we did on different chunks of sets. We spent most of our time on “Without Warning” (2nd song) and “Wind River” (the closer). It was a productive Afternoon Block!
We then had the rest of the day and night off; I&E events started at 4:30 and we had somewhere between 5 and 10 different members in various Solo and Ensemble performances. Unfortunately, the planned Low Brass Ensemble did not perform – we did not meet often enough to get our piece ready. Nevertheless, it seemed like a good night for our I&E groups. One of our Color Guard members, Jacob, won the Championship in Duel Ensemble (meaning he used two different pieces of equipment, I think); I got to see a duet by Dillan and JD, two other Guard members – it was really good!
For me, I went with a couple of our Mellophone players – Danny and Justin – to check out the above I&E duet and the concert by the Hawthorne Caballeros Alumni group. That was a strong, LOUD, great performance! I can finally cross that off of my “Drum Corps – Must See In Person” list!! We, along with Tuba Section Leader Barak, ended the night at a restaurant/bar called The Brick Yard; their Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese was excellent!
Our day changed drastically: instead of having a Prelims performance in the afternoon and a Finals performance on Sunday evening, DCA moved Finals to Saturday night. A threat of rain and thunderstorms prompted the move (a good move, as Williamsport had strong storms move through on Sunday afternoon). So, instead of a light morning rehearsal, we met at the stadium, unloaded and changed into our uniforms, and had an extended warm-up, consisting of playing warm-up sequences, moving, and playing show chunks, to get our blood flowing and our legs loose.
We then headed back down the giant hill to the stadium. This was my 1st time marching at DCA Championships; my previous experiences had all been on I&E nights. Believe it or not, I was not nervous. I was a little too amped up, to be honest; I calmed down once I had set up my front sideline panel and got my horn back from my Section Leader (Jacob). Our Prelims performance was very good! We didn’t have any major timing issues (other than the very beginning, and it wasn’t too major), the “tired” sound only hit in one or two places, and we got quite a few good crowd reactions! On my end, I winded out about halfway through the closer but did keep my horn at the correct angles. We scored an 85.75, putting us in 7th place. To be honest, I just wanted to show the DCA world what we (CT) could do, and that Prelims performance did just that.
After Prelims, we met at our rehearsal site for some really good local sub sandwiches for lunch (I can’t remember the name of the place) and Awards. Awards Ceremony were originally planned for Saturday night. At Awards, the Staff recognized the Most Improved Members of each section: Color Guard – 3, Percussion – 2, Brass – 1 per section. There was also the Director’s Award, given to the outstanding member of the corps. Our Battery Section Leader, Josh (Lead Snare Drummer) won the 2019 Award. However, I was surprised when Tom Slade (CT Director) mentioned me as the Honorable Mention for the Award, for my travels to and from rehearsals via Greyhound. An awesome moment! All of the Rookie members also got our Corps Cords: a necklace with
We had a brief 90 minute final rehearsal, then geared back up, warmed back up, and took the field for Finals. It was the first time that CT performed at Finals ‘under the lights’. It was an outstanding performance – the best of the year!! Our opening statement was strong; the 2nd piece kept the intensity going; the ballad might have been the best that we played it; and the closer was definitely the best performance of the year! We got a long standing ovation for it! The Staff loved it, especially Andrew (Brass Caption Head) and Nick (Show Coordinator)! I was spent – my left foot and right heel were on fire (the hell still is), my right thigh was strangely hurting (from the hill-climbing, possibly), and my lower back was hurting (and still is, Wednesday morning) – and you know what? I loved every bit of the pain and exhaustion! I did what the staff asked of us: i “left everything on the field”. 😀
The Administration Staff treated us to a KFC banquet after our Finals performance – much appreciated! We then headed to a series of events that were some of the most fun times I’ve had in a long time.
First was the performance by the Free Players, a corps made up of performers with different levels of special needs. They put on a 10 minute concert that every other corps but one were in the stands to watch. There were some serious players in that group! They had the crowd into it from the very first note. As Danny said to me, at the end of the show, “This is what it’s all about!” They were crowned “Grand Champions” by DCA – what an awesome show!
Next was the Staging For Retreat. ‘Retreat’ is where all of the corps take the field, stand with their groups, and await the revelations of the Final Scores and Caption Awards, such as High Brass and Best Honor Guard. ‘Staging’ is where all of the corps wait until they take the field. It is basically a giant party, minus the adult beverages. It was so much fun, watching nearly 1,000 performers in the same area, singing goofy songs and jingles, blowing bubbles, wearing different items like glow stick hoops, and just releasing all of the pressures of Finals night and the 9-month season!
Finals Retreat came and the party-like atmosphere carried over to the field. The Caballeros Alumni Percussion played the cadence that the corps marched onto the field with. Once there, different Color Guard units started dancing to the beat. CT’s Guard did the Macarena; Bushwhackers joined in. Atlanta CV and the Reading Buccaneers’ Guards had a dance-off (Atlanta won, once Reading’s Guard sat down lol); the Columbus Saints’ Guard and other members started a Conga line. I’m not sure what dance(s) some of the Bushwhackers’ Brass were doing but it worked. This went on for about 15-20 minutes. 😉
The Final Scores were released: CT earned an 87.375 and 7th Place! The placement was a record high finish in Open Class; the score was the highest score ever earned in any class! The Brass section finished 6th, with an average score of 88.5. What a finish to an amazing week! We capped it off with pictures on the field, with almost every corps taking pics of different sections, different people, and different corps.
This was an awesome rookie season with the Cincinnati Tradition! I got to travel to different cities in Ohio and Pennsylvania for the first time. I got to march at DCI events for the very first time! And I got to perform with some of the best performers, staff, and people on the planet! I learned a lot and I think I grew as a person, even at the age of 41. I need to take time off and do what my Podiatrist suggested – rest 4 separate, injured areas of my feet – but I plan on being a part of the 2020 version of CT.
Thank you to those who have followed my season in “A ‘Borg and a Baritone”. It’s been fun!