Weekly Feature

2018-07-26 / Lifestyles


not your average marching bands

The top 10 drum and bugle corps in the world will compete at Drums Along the Waterfront, Tour of Champions on Aug. 5 at New Era Field. Ten schools in Western New York will host the teams as they prepare to battle it out for the top spot.

Drums Along the Waterfront Inc. is a nonprofit organization that has hosted Drum Corps International competitions in Buffalo for the past 20 years. Each elite team, due to arrive the first weekend in August, can consist of more than 200 people and a 10-bus caravan, according to Matt Tichy, DATW director of production and media.

“It’s amazing to see corps pull in,” Tichy said. “They’ll get off, and it’s just bus, bus, bus, truck, truck, truck with the team’s name on all the vehicles.” Tichy described the event as “the NFL of marching.” He said 900 people, between the ages of 15 and 22, audition for a team, and about 150 performers are offered a spot. The rest of the team is made up of directors, staff and volunteers. 

The 90-day commitment requires performers to sign a contract. Members rehearse for 30 days. By mid-May, they’re off on a 60-day, 40-show tour across the country, according to Tichy. 

From venue to venue, each team is hosted by a school in the surrounding area. Jack Gaylord Jr., president of DATW, said the organization had to work with some different Western New York schools this year than in previous years. “We’ve had to break ground with a lot of new people,” Gaylord said.

“We’re working with Maryvale and Niagara Falls [school districts] for the first time.” Thomas Stack, Maryvale High School’s principal, said the school will serve as a “secondary sponsor” to give the Colts, of Dubuque, Iowa, a roof over their heads for the weekend. “We’ve worked very hard with music boosters and music staff to rebuild some of our programs and increase participation,” Stack said.

“This is another opportunity for students and staff to see high-level corps.” Gaylord added that schools and DATW working together is mutually beneficial. 

“It’s publicity for [the schools] that they usually wouldn’t get,” Gaylord said. “And that’s the great thing about Western New York — people stepping up to the plate to make something work.” Orchard Park High School will host the Bluecoats of Canton, Ohio. The high school’s band director, Donald Carducci, said he always encourages his students to go and watch the free rehearsals. “The impact is profound,” Carducci said.

“To have students be able to see and interact with professionals of that caliber is just such a great opportunity.” The teams travel about 10,000 miles on average over the summer, according to Tichy. Teams travel from the farthest reaches of the country — California, Arizona, Colorado — to compete at DATW,

The national top 10 drum and bugle corps will perform at New Era Field in Drums Along the Waterfront on Aug. 5. 
Photos byMichael Mandolfo The national top 10 drum and bugle corps will perform at New Era Field in Drums Along the Waterfront on Aug. 5. Photos byMichael Mandolfo

 according to Gaylord.

“To have [the teams] here, and to
have the Western New York community have something at that
high of a level, it’s like a feather in
our cap,” Gaylord said.
The teams will be hosted by the
following schools:
• Dunkirk High School— The Academy

• Orchard Park High
School — Bluecoats
• Martin Road Elementary School — Blue
• Akron High School
— Blue Knights
• West Seneca West High
School — Blue Stars
• Pioneer High School — Boston

• Maryvale High School — The

• Niagara Falls High School —
The Cavaliers
• Erie Community College,
South Campus — Madison
• Silver Creek High School —

All rehearsals, apart from the Blue Devils, are open to the public. The show begins at 6 p.m. and ends at 10:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 5, at New Era Field, 1 Bills Drive, Orchard Park. Each corps will have a 12-minute show. Tickets are available for purchase for the home side of the field. Prices range from $29 to $50. Children ages 12 and younger are admitted for half off.

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