From Michael Boo Today, June 8, is the 25th anniversary of the passing of Troopers founder and longtime director Jim Jones. Here are some writings about him from long-ago DCI.org columns. Fanfare (September 13, 2002) Remembering Jim Jones by Michael Boo In the previous installment of this series, I asked myself to think of the most incredible drum corps moment I’ve ever experienced. That led me back to memories of Troopers in the corps’ astounding late season jump into the 1979 Drum Corps International World Finals. This week, I thought it might be neat to recollect about my most cherished drum corps memory as a spectator. (Like everyone who marched in a DCI corps, I have hundreds of such memories as a participant.) This isn’t a trend developing, but my most special moment as a spectator involves Troopers again. More specifically, it involves the corps’ founder, Jim Jones. Jim was one of those people who was a legend in his own time. He founded one of the most successful of drum corps prior to the DCI era, was instrumental in the founding of Drum Corps International, and after several years into the DCI era, decided to let someone else take over the day-to-day running of the corps. He still was, though, the godfather of the corps, someone to be looked up to by all in the activity. He was also one of drum corps’ true gentlemen. I got to know Jim when we ran into each other at the 1982 Percussive Arts Society International Convention in Dallas, Texas. Neither one of us was doing much during a break in the sessions, so we started chatting in the lobby of the hotel that was hosting the convention. Actually, I started chatting, and he didn’t get up to run away. I introduced myself as someone who had marched in a corps, and was interested in hearing about his recollections. He offered to buy us both ice cream cones from the lobby concessionaire. For some reason, I remember us both getting mocha. (I don’t even like coffee and didn’t want to appear to be a rube by asking what mocha was.) It’s strange how little things stick in one’s mind two decades later. After that experience, we would casually say “hello” to each other whenever we met. Jim would ask how such-and-such was going, remembering my little projects here and there. I think he made mental notes about everyone he met so that they would feel important when they spoke with him. Fast forward ten years later to 1992: The Drum Corps International World Championships were in Madison, Wisconsin. I was staying at The Regent Apartments just a few minutes walk from Camp Randall Stadium. My roommate was Bob Abben of Florida, a man I’m proud to proclaim as my best friend. Bob was a contemporary to Jim, and many, many years ago, was Kilties first-ever drum major. He was then recruited to play drums in the Racine Scouts, who at the time, were a much more premier organization than the upstart Kilties. Bob had been deeply involved with the V.F.W. organization over the years and loved old-time drum corps. He was a behind-the-scenes person in the creation of Suncoast Sound. Before a bout with skin cancer required him to stay out of the sun as much as possible, he came to the Drum Corps International World Championships to keep up with the activity. Bob also worshiped the work of Jim Jones. After one of the shows leading up to 1992 Finals, I walked into the convenience market across the street from The Regent. There was Jim Jones and his wife, Grace, buying late night sandwiches and drinks. In a moment of loony inspiration, I told Jim about my friend Bob and said he would really make Bob’s week if he and Grace came up to my room to meet Bob and enjoy their sandwiches and drinks in the friendly confines of our suite. To my surprise, they agreed to do so and asked for my room number. It was really late by then, and I’m sure they would have been just as happy to get back to their hotel and get some rest. I ran across the street, entered the room, woke Bob up and told him to get dressed, as we were about to have company. He griped and moaned a little, thinking I was crazy to invite someone over at that hour. But he did as I instructed and never asked about whom was coming. There was a knock at the door, I opened it, and invited Jim and Grace to come in. Bob bolted to his feet and proclaimed, “Mister Jones!,” emphasizing his respect in the title “Mister.” At that point, I knew I was forgiven for bringing a “stranger” up to the room in the late hours of the evening. A table was set up for Jim and Grace to enjoy their meal, I backed off, and waited for the conversation I expected to follow. What I experienced then was a history lesson between two people who deeply loved drum corps and had witnessed it evolve first-hand. “Remember the V.F.W. Championship in (wherever) in (year)?” “Oh, yes, where (whatever) happened?” “Yes. What did you think of that?” “Well…” This went on for well over an hour. It was one of the most amazing conversations I’ve ever experienced. Jim, or rather, “Mister Jones,” was apparently enjoying the trip down Memory Lane. At the end, he said to me, “You’re into architecture, aren’t you?” I responded in the affirmative, not too surprised that he remembered some tidbit of a conversation we must have had years before. “Come down to my car and I’ll show you some photos of my new house. It’s built entirely without nails.” When I returned to the room, Bob asked, “Do you think anyone would believe this?” I replied, “Do you?” He said something like, “No, and I was here.” A few years back, when I heard that Jim had passed on, my first recollection of him was how he changed his plans late at night to make someone happy whom he didn’t even know. I think that was the essence of his humanity. A true gentleman, indeed. Fanfare (October 11, 2002) Jim Jones Feedback by Michael Boo I was greatly touched by the comments I received about my personal encounter with Jim Jones. I’d like to share three e-mail feedbacks with you. From Walt Heath, Troopers 1961 through 1965 and 1967: “Mr. Jones for me was the essence of the Trooper motto, ‘Honor, Loyalty, Dedication.’ And I believe you could throw in large doses of Respect and Integrity. He personified all of these. And obviously, he just plain cared a lot about people.” From Lyle McCartee, Troopers 1991 and 1993: “I never marched under Mr. Jones, but during my rookie year in 1991, he was in the school auditorium for the November camp. One by one, the auditioning drummers came in and played rudiments and basic check patterns for him and the percussion caption head. “Although I hardly knew who Mr. Jones was at the time, you would have thought that I was playing before Jesus Christ himself! I was extremely nervous already, but to put me in the same room in front of the man who was so responsible for the activity that we know as contemporary drum corps…Ohhh... the pressure was on! “Mr. Jones would show up to the ‘Tar Pits’ (rehearsal site) unannounced. He would park his car on about the 40-yard line in the middle of the asphalt field, get out of it, and tell us that we were out of our set. Usually he was just dropping off uniform parts or seeing how the show was coming along. We would move over just for him, and then after he left, we went back to the original (and correct) set.” Lynn DeAngelis, an alumnus of The Cadets and Skylarks Winter Guard, lives in Stratford, CT. She served as Troopers’ guard caption head in 1983, 1984, 1985 and 1987. I asked her about the “Tar Pits” and she added this to the story. “Whenever we saw his car (a big black Cadillac) coming across the parking lot, everyone would start singing the theme from ‘Jaws.’ He was an awesome presence.” Lynn has an amazing story to tell, one that had my eyes tearing up. I’ll let her tell it in her words. You might want to have a tissue ready. “When I read your article, it bought back memories I had totally forgotten about. He was a real ‘character’ and I miss his calls at 2:00 a.m. because he would forget about the time difference between Wyoming and Connecticut. “The simple fact is that he single handedly put together a complete drum corps, which is astounding! He taught everything…horns, drums, and guard, and in the earlier years, he even wrote the drill. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, his introduction of the curve and circle were state-of-the-art. He figured out all of this by common sense, applying his skills as an architect to the marching field. He was a brilliant man. “I know all this by spending countless hours as Troopers’ guard caption head from 1983-85 and 1987 and traveling on the staff RV with Jim and his wife, Grace. He was always interesting and I enjoyed the evening ‘treat’ that he had stashed in one of the hidden compartments he had built. As soon as Grace was asleep, he would break out the Pepperidge Farm Milano cookies, complete with ice-cold milk. “I also had the opportunity to be a guest in his home whenever I was in Casper for camps. It was like being in a house from ‘James Bond.’ complete with hidden rooms. One of these rooms was the guest room, which was built into—and behind—the bookcase. There was also a hidden bathroom in a curved hallway that you could not open unless you pushed on the wall as you walked! “On one occasion, I noticed a box of crossed sabres in the dining room, the ones that the corps wears on their uniform hats. I just HAD to have one, as in my childhood; the Troopers were my favorite corps. So, in the middle of the night, I snuck down to the dining room to take one as a souvenir. “As soon as I got downstairs, Pepper, the dog and the Jones’ cockatiel birds went berserk, making all kinds of noise! I felt awful and ran back to my room, confessing to Mr. Jones the next day. He just laughed and said, ‘Lynnie, the only way you could have one of those would be to age-out.’ No big deal…I could live without one. “In the summer of 1984, he mentioned to me that the corps was going to be the first drum corps to march in the Pasadena Festival of Roses Parade. He asked me if I would be interested in marching along with other staff members and a lot of alumni so we would appear bigger, since the bands would be larger. ‘Me? A Troopers rifle? Oh my god!!’ How many people could live a childhood dream like that while in their 20s? It was very cool. “I went along with the schedule of Disneyland on New Year’s Eve (no drinking), then went straight to the parade line-up to sleep on the busses before marching the 5-mile parade. I just could not believe I was wearing a Troopers uniform! “I made it through the parade with no problem. As I was getting a drink of water, Mr. Jones came up to me and said, ‘Lynnie, take off your hat.’ I thought, ‘Oh God, what is wrong?’ He took the corps hat, took off the crossed sabres, handed it to me, and said, ‘This is yours. You just aged out!’ “That meant so much to me, I cried like a fool. I’ll always cherish the gift.” I’d like to end with a pithy observation, but there’s no way I can top that story. Fanfare (March 21, 2003) The Essence of Drum Corps: More Love of Jim Jones by Michael Boo The third-ever installment of “Fanfare” (September 13, 2002) was about legendary Troopers founder and director Jim Jones. This generated so much feedback that another column (October 11, 2002) was written about the man. Later, I received three more e-mails about Mr. Jones, each in its own way gently prodding me to once again visit the legend that walked amongst us. Kevin Williams played baritone for the Troopers in the early 1980s, remembering, “At that time, Mr. Jones was quite active in the day-to-day operations of the corps. My first personal encounter with Mr. Jones (nobody ever calls him Jim) crystallized my perception of the entire activity, and the paradigm exists even until today. We were at one of the winter camps in Laramie, learning the opener for 1981, ‘The Cowboys.’ For some reason, I ended up in the ‘cat-walk,’ where Mr. Jones would stand and clean drill. I think he was rehearsing sopranos at the time. “No Dr. Beat, no metronome, no field ranger; just Mr. Jones bellowing out directions. I was standing by him while he was barking commands out to the ‘Kimbie Squad,’ (rookies or those who act like rookies), when he became very upset about a portion of the drill. As I recall, two arcs were rotating across the field with one arc being in front of the other. The rotation of the back arc was occurring more quickly than the rotation of the front arc, and it caused the whole formation to lack the feel he wanted. He stated his case to me and I nodded in full agreement, in awe at how quickly he saw the problem. “He proceeded to look me squarely in the eye for the next five minutes and state why such issues were important, and cut to the very fabric of the essence of drum corps; striving to be the best you can be. He spent the following ten minutes explaining how the same principles lay the foundation for a successful life. The whole time the drill rehearsal was going on in the background…and he took that time out to speak to me directly. “Mr. Jones continues to stand as an icon that goes well beyond the activity, and, in many ways, represents why the essence of drum corps is bigger than the activity itself.” Jon VanZandt marched in Troopers’ snare line in 1979, 1980 and 1981. He came to the corps from Santa Clara Vanguard, where he had marched for most of the mid-1970s. He had made friends with several other corps members across the country. Every few months, he would talk on the phone to a snare drummer from Troopers, and then hook up with him on summer tour. In the last spring of 1979, Jon needed a rest from the extreme competition unit that SCV was renown to be, and so he quit. A few days later, his Troopers friend called him to ask how Vanguard was doing. When Jon told him he had quit, his friend tried talking him into coming to Casper to fill a snare spot. Jon remembers, “I laughed at the thought of this California surfer kid living in Wyoming…leaving a first place corps and going to a 20th place corps. Leaving a corps where the average age was 20 and going to a corps where the average age was 16 sounded too strange. We hung up after I wished the Troops’ a good summer. “That night, I received a second call. The caller told me his name was Jim Jones. We talked for several hours about his love/hate relationship with Gail Royer (SCV director), and the fact that the Troopers were run like a family. He invited me to come out and see what they were all about. A few days later I found myself in my 1963 Chevy, driving east on I-80. When I arrived in Casper, I called Mr. Jones. He invited me to come to his home. (Yes, I also spent a great deal of time in the famous hidden library room!) The next day, we were off to Laramie for a weekend camp. “The camp was a shock. The corps was working late into the night. We were in a dirty rodeo field house. It was about 1:00 am. Mr. Jones was way up in the rafters yelling out to the horn line that he wanted more of an arc, like a ‘teapot.’ The kids were exhausted and the staff was burned out on the marathon drill lessons. I then raised my hand to ask Mr. Jones a question. “When he called on me, I asked him, ‘Is this where we do the Bottle Dance?’ You could have heard a pin drop. After a minute, or so, Mr. Jones replied, ‘Yes...only for you.’ The entire corps bust out in laughter, and a life-long friendship was born. “The only memories I have of the 1979 show was when I walked up to play the timpani solo in the concert number. Halfway through the number, I looked right at Mr. Jones. He had on this wide smile that touched me down to my toes. You could tell that he was the happiest person on earth at that time. I spent the next three years as a Trooper. After aging out, at the advice of Mr. Jones, I went into the Army. When that was over, I moved to Denver to teach the Blue Knights (as did several other Troopers). “I kept in touch with Mr. Jones up until his death. He often told me that drumming—and drum corps—was a way to have fun doing something that you enjoy. He used to say that teaching is a way of passing on all the things someone else had taught you. I took his advice. Over the years I have taught hundreds of high school drummers. Each line I have taught learned the same exercises that Mr. Jones and I drummed during my years in Trooper Land. (He was fond of the old W.F. Ludwig solos and would capture any drummer to play them with him.) “Mr. Jones ran the Troopers like a family. He involved everyone in the day-to-day operations of the corps. He had a way of getting you to ‘think outside the box,’ to come up with different things to do on the field. He could get you to work harder than you ever thought was possible. He was a friend to everyone. He was also someone that was quick to get on you when you were being lazy. “As the years go by, and as I get older, I think of him often. Every time I pass a Dairy Queen, I think of the ‘Mr. Misty’ he would send me for after every rehearsal. When I pick up an old Ludwig snare book, he again appears in my thoughts. For over 15 years now, I have been a Deputy Sheriff in a busy part of the Denver area. Every day I see horrible acts of violence. Shootings, stabbings, drug labs, and people in trouble are part of the normal day around here. I often wish I could put this job aside, and once again strap on a snare drum. “Thank you, Mr. Jones. You developed in hundreds of kids the attitude to help others. I only wish there were more people like you around. Kids today sure could use it! “When you ask about the 1979 DCI Worlds prelim show, the only thing I can say is that when a corps cares so much for their director, great things can happen. If you were there, you saw this first hand!” Al Donelson marched Troopers in 1981, coming out of the same Colorado high school as Kevin Williams. When he was introduced to Mr. Jones, Kevin told him that he had never played a bugle before. He then received a half-hour-long verbal dissertation on the difference between a bugle and a tuba. Al says, “He had an incredible memory and could remember someone if they walked up to him years later. I was at a restaurant in the Denver area, 12 years after I marched, having dinner with my family. Mr. and Mrs. Jones walked by and saw me and stopped to talk to us. He remembered me by name and horn and years marched and high school. Amazing, since the last time I saw him was about three years after I marched, at Drums Along The Rockies in Denver. He sums up everything anyone has ever said about Mr. Jones, stating, “Jim Jones was not only Troopers’ director, he WAS the Troopers. ‘Honor, Loyalty and Dedication’ are paramount in life and in anything we do. Jim Jones was dedicated to that motto. He really believed in it and was the epitome of ‘Honor, Loyalty and Dedication.’ I am proud to have been a Trooper and to have marched under Jim Jones. ‘Once A Trooper, Always A Trooper.’” ... See more
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This 9s from Matt Young Don Warren, Founder of the Cavaliers drum & bugle corps, passed away over the weekend. I've been meaning to post about it, but it's been a busy week. Despite never being a member of the Cavaliers, I actually have a very minor Don Warren story/memory to share. When I auditioned for the Cavaliers in November of 2002 (spoiler alert- I got cut, HARD), the brass sectionals were held in a band room that although it was HUGE compared to any I'd been in outside of a college before, was packed to the gills with hopefuls. I happened to wind up standing a few feet from the door. While we were learning some stuff, Don Warren and Jeff Fiedler stood in the doorway watching and listening. Seeing the sheer number of hopefuls in the room, Don said something like "Seems like with this many kids we could field TWO corps this season..." to which Jeff replied something along the lines of "Only if you're going to direct the second one." Although I didn't make the cut that weekend, I had a great experience with the Cavaliers organization and learned a great deal. Later that summer, my mother got in a car accident at Allentown when she was trying to drive along where the buses parked to get me to my bus. A Blue Devils bus pulled out of it's spot without paying attention, didn't see her passing it, and crushed the side of her car. The driver got out and started yelling at my mom while I tried to get him to calm down. Nearby, a group of Cavaliers administrative and support staff (including their tour director) had seen everything and came over. They got the bus driver to get back in his bus and leave my mother alone, made sure we were both ok, and gave my mother their contact information, saying that they'd be happy to provide statements to her insurance company explaining the bus driver was careless and she was not at fault. (An act which I know was itself probably dripping with rivalry of one kind or another.) Don Warren created a class organization that has positively impacted countless lives both within and outside of its ranks. It has outlived him and will continue in his memory, and I'm guessing that's how he would have wanted things to be. ... See more
A colleague of mine asked me to post this: Harmony Drum & Bugle Corps (parade corps) located in Boonton NJ is looking for members. Practice is every Thursday 6:30 - 8:30 pm at the firehouse (2nd floor) 311 Boonton Ave. Boonton, NJ They march approximately 15 parades a year (Community and fireman competition parades) Open to ages 8 and up They are in dire need of members, if you know anyone who would like to march in a small corps, check them out (beginners are most welcome) ... See more
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Drum Corps Radio 5.16.19
Drum Corps Radio 5.16.19
A simplified list of important changes and trends to look for during the upcoming 2019 DCI summer tour. Catch it LIVE on FloMarching!
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