Seven Drum Corps Compete in Warrenton
Drum and Bugle Corps have been a part of the American music scene since before the Second World War. Saturday night seven up and coming corps competed in Warrenton.
The hot weather didn’t stop the show, staged under the auspices of an organization called Drum Corps International. Seven of DCI’s more than 30 corps were there. Six were so called Open Class, one was World Class. The Jersey Surf credits young Virginia musicians and color guard members among the reasons for its success.
Jacobs: We've always had a bunch of kids from Virginia and I had been told very early in my career to expect the fact that the Virginia kids would come in very well prepared, because it seems as though the commitment to the arts and arts education at the scholastic level is a lot greater in Virginia than it was in New Jersey.
Bob Jacobs is Director of the Jersey Surf.
Jacobs: Now I see the fact that there really is a tremendous commitment to the arts in Virginia and there's definitely a thirst that the kids have to be involved in this stuff. So, we're thrilled to have such big participation. It has caused the corps' focus to grow from a very local base to a very regional base and we're better off for it now as well. This year is a great year for us just because we have so many performance opportunities in this area.
He explained that the corps is in its 20th season and this is its second year in the elite World Class.
Jacobs: The basic difference between World and Open is the average age of the members. The most of the World Class groups tend to have a slightly older average age--eighteen to twenty--the maximum is 21; whereas, the Open Class groups are generally younger; there're exceptions in both directions. Additionally, the length of the tour.
Quite a few of the Jersey Surf’s marching members are from the Richmond area.
O'Brien: I really like it. We work hard, we see results and do out best to put on a great show.
Kevin O’Brien, from Henrico County, is a music major at UVa Wise. A tuba player, this is his first drum corps experience.
O'Brien: It broadens my horizons.
John Gonzoldis, from Richmond, is going to VCU to major in elementary education. He’s a Deep Run High School graduate.
Gonzoldis: I got into drum corps from my high school band director. He turned me on in my freshman year.
Gabriel Meida, from Fredericksburg, is in the color guard, which is much more than marching with flags.
Meida: I spin flag rifle and saber and I do a little bit of dance, too.
Also a VCU student, she said she chose the Jersey Surf after a disappointing experience in another corps.
Meida: Everyone was really open and family oriented and that's one of the things that I like about them.
Jameela Christian, from Roanoke, was in her high school band color guard.
Christian: I graduated from high school and a didn't want to stop doing color guard, so, I did drum corps.
Do you think you'll keep doing it?
Christian: Probably, I really like it.
Bob Jacobs explained that since its earliest days the Jersey Surf has tried to accommodate high school and college musicians.
Jacobs: We started the group with what we considered at the time to be an alternative format, in that we don't tour for the entireity of the summer. We tour for three weeks in the beginning and three weeks at the end; and then, during the middle weeks we're home during the week in our own homes, the kids are back to their college classes for the summer or, perhaps, working a part-time job or just going to the beach.
Saturday night, sporting new uniforms, the Jersey Surf had its highest score of the season. The look on the faces of its members showing that Jacobs' philosophy seems to be working.