I’ve been fortunate to play some nice concert halls and even a drum corps stadium or two, but after all these years I was caught off-guard and experienced something last Sunday that was quite amazing: a “moment” in time.
Once we setup for our performance I was transformed back into a 15 year-old kid attempting to play timpani, sweating like a bastard (nerves, not heat) with the realization that I was performing in the Renegades (something I’ve wanted to be part of for quite some time). The audience’s reaction to James’ commanding voice and Mistress Kelli’s presence kept me in a heightened state. If Thu hadn’t played the 7 chime hits I think I would’ve stayed in my near trance and missed the downbeat. The performance felt surreal especially as I could sense the coffin (prop) now in back of me – body takes over the mind, old habits kick in … don’t tick … listen back … trust your intuition. The show ended all too quickly.
I knew it was going to be a great day. The pit rehearsed with the battery and started to lock-in; better still, everyone was smiling. Things were going well as Lee, Zak and Thom were hyping on our visuals and had maniacal sneers while we played! It was great to see our drum staff laughing and pleased with our progress. Positive energy – we were in the perfect space. But Sunday continued to get better: while schlepping my drums to meet the horns I watched the color guard spin their equipment rhythmically smooth and the expression on their faces seemed peaceful, their bodies moving effortlessly, noticeably reaching a new level of performance. You can feel the emotion of the guard by the sound of their weapons cutting through the air. Nice. The sabers flashed in the sunlight and I was reminded how startling that can be. But that’s not all: when the horns played the choral their sound was round and full of color – their level of musicianship and sensitivity came through as they expressed deafening pianissimos and fortissimos that would make Jim Ott proud. I lost myself in those few precious moments; everyone stood in quiet awe. It was a private performance that only the Renegades were privy to – at that moment all the hard work and effort to be in the corps was worth the price of admission.
So, I’m a rookie (again) living in a state of enthusiasm and nausea. I forgot what it was like to feel the power of drums and bugles forcing me to look backfield to communicate an acceptable volume only to be haunted by diminished chords and medallions that speak for themselves.
I love my fellow “pitsters” and I am honored to be among you all.