Charles Reace

My Bluecoats Obsession

It's mostly about the music.

Okay, let me back up a bit. The Bluecoats are a drum and bugle corps based in Canton, Ohio. They don't really use bugles any more; instead using trumpets, tubas, euphoniums, melophones, and recently even trombones. And it's not just drums, but also xylophones and their relatives, along with other percussion instruments. And they have a color guard performing with flags, traditional rifles, and assorted other props. And I really shouldn't start sentences with conjunctions.

They perform and compete against other corps as part of DCI: Drum Corps International — a name which leaves out the most crucial part to me, the brass instruments, since there was a time when I was a pretty darned good trumpet player.

Anyway (that's not a conjunction, is it?), I first started really noticing the Bluecoats in 2011. Their show consisted of music that was not necessarily things I would have immediately considered as candidates for this medium, yet it all worked beautifully — a tribute both to the corps' ability and musicality, as well as that of the music arranger. Here's a link to rehearsal footage of that show: youtube video.

Over the next few years, they continued to create shows with interesting and unexpected music that just worked, and they kept getting better at performing it. This past summer (2016), all their hard work paid off with the championship title at the DCI finals in Indianapolis. And to top that off, their show included a favorite song of mine, Pink Floyd's "Great Gig in the Sky" — yet another song I would not have thought of as a good fit for a drum and bugle corps, yet movingly performed by them. Here's rehearsal footage of that show: youtube video. (DCI has a habit of taking down videos from actual events, so I'm sticking to rehearsal footage here, except for the wink, which hopefully will remain.)

Congratulations to the Bluecoats, and I'm looking forward to seeing what interesting music they come up with for 2017.

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