Drummer Drama: Dennis Delivers
Dennis Mancini, Snare
From the Driver's Seat of the Car
Saturday Morning around 8:30 Im heading up to the Renegades semisanctioned corps hall known as the Officers Club on Treasure Island. Music playing from the car stereo is unknown to me but sounds like a dinner club quartet chilling on piano, sax, bass and trap-set. Looking out the window its amazing to me how much the weather forecast calling for high winds was entirely incorrect. The sky is crispy blue with around seven puffy clouds surrounding the outer mountain ranges and the water on the San Francisco Bay is smooth as glass with seagulls gliding between the sailboats in the harbor.
From Between the Tail Lights
Pandering members of the corps limp and hobble about trying to get excused from drill rehearsal. Just kidding. Gotcha, eh. Its a very big weekend on the West Coast for the corps invited to use Treasure Island as well as a staging area for the other performance groups. Most of the members have arrived early because the parking lot is nearly full well before its time to get started. The "God Damned" equipment truck unloading dock is buzzing with activity as pit members and volunteers roll out equipment. Drummers from the battery section are gathering together, cranking down their "White Flam" drum heads, tuning their guts and reinforcing their sticks with extra tape. Before I reach into my trunk to grab my backpack and snare drum Im somewhat distracted by the snapping sound of a flag a few yards away. I respond by peering up over the trunk to witness what I would call a tall redhead Renegodess color guard member dancing alone, graceful and strong, performing a very difficult yet beautifully executed solo routine (very nice). Off in the distance past a grove of bull pines a small squad of people are setting up the field for drill practice and earning some tour pay. Finally the reflective glare from a contra catches the corner of my eye as he swings it over his shoulder and I follow him inside the Officers Club to begin stretching.
From A Few Inches off the Carpet
Stretching, groaning and more groaning and giggling culminate in appreciative sighs of relief by the end. The color guard have already vanished for now across the street to their own sanctuary and will not be seen or heard from until after dinner.
From Inside A Stack of Krispy Kreme Donut Boxes Piled High
The battery section assembled outside and the bass drum line marched in as a squad ready to rock. Next we are immediately introduced to our fourth addition to the tenor line. Another welcomed and highly prized young blood SCV Cadet alumni tenor cat with first class hands and attitude. We cheered and hooted in response from the line. He responds back by shocking everyone because he already knows enough of the show to be included performance night. Wow! We are also expecting a guest 9th snare and legendary veteran, Al chopper Chan. He cant show up until Sunday we learn to our distress because we want to be crispy clean. Pardon THAT pun. So we try to summon him by cell phone, but to no avail. So we break out the boxes of donuts to kick start the drum line. In the words of our bookend snare Marvin, "Time to burp the Tupperware."
From Out Of Nowhere
Lunch was spent indoors relaxing around the table, talking dirt about anything that came to mind. From adopting Russian babies, just having twins, expecting twins at DCA, to the intricacies of gymnastic score keeping, mixed in with a little bit of banter about our favorite years of drum corps. All the while Loss camping stove blasted forth on top of the table acting as heat lamp and mini stove to keep things cozy.
From the Naked Lady Statue
After lunch we headed over to the parking lot along the harbor to learn the drill for the Matrix. Watching over us was a 40 ft. fresco of a very white naked woman on the side of one building. I think she was kind of inspiring to the drum line because the testosterone level was set pretty high. We nearly got into a brawl with a gang throwing down hand gestures and tossing a tennis ball at us from a distance. Some of the guys start barking back egging them on and Lee stepped in to herd us away down the street to go practice with horns on the field. Smart move, if you ask me. Things seemed to work out pretty well with the horns during the Matrix. I thought they said were not gonna have to march as much after the opener! Guess not. Its crab step city the entire time. After a few semi solid runs we broke for dinner and on the way back four of us played an endurance roll down the sidewalk until we arrived back at the Officers Club.
From the Open Window
As we were dinning away evidence that So. Cal Dream had arrived as they could be heard warming up the horn line playing just out beyond the window. We were totally hyped that our brothers from the South had come up for LMS4 because its the first corps we have heard for months now from somewhere else. We headed back to our practice room early to get extra warm up time because later during our ensemble rehearsal, scouts from So. Cal Dream came in to check us out as they stuck their heads in the door. About an hour later we joined our horn line and SoCal Dream in the main hall to perform our shows for each other and have both horn lines combined to play together. Afterwards I was introduced to VK Garry, their corps director. I recall him saying to me that our drum line was playing the crap out or our drums, with a wry grin. It was a true honor to finally meet him and his fine corps in person.
From My Eardrum
Heading back up to practice Sunday morning things seem to be going a little to perfect so to mix things up a little I try to keep my mind busy by listening to some Spanish radio. I dont understand hardly any Spanish at all, but thats ok. I like tuning into the local Mexican radio station just for giggles ever since I used to drive my son to school in the morning to keep him laughing. Dont ask me why. As Im listening I can just see this midget size disc jockey wearing a wrestling mask with a tux and tails pacing back and forth repeatedly pulling up his pants up over his pot belly as he blares announcements in a deep bravado. Ok, moving on.
From the Bar We're Raising
The drum line vibe is kicking in big time with our 9th snare finally arriving we are now in a very focused and intense show time mode. The bar for this drum line is rising quickly. Our exercises, charts and hands are getting cleaner and stronger than ever and everyone is talking back and forth during the break about a championship level line and to make sure we have a good time getting there. We keep demonstrating to ourselves every so often how good we can be full time in late August and its really exciting to imagine how that will hear all the time by DCA. We then join the horn line for a couple of sets while some our guests from River City Regiment and SoCal Dream watched. You will not, I repeat, you will not recognize this corps this summer.
From Carloss Four Wheel Drive Bumper
During our long break before heading over to LMS4. My practice buddy Carlos and I took a tour around the Island checking out the other corps drum lines. There is much potential displayed from both Sr. Corps. SoCal Dream appears to have learned their entire show already and should be clicking along as the summer progresses when they spend more time playing together. River City Regiment bass drum line stood out for me with excellent technique and quality of sound.
From the Big Event at the Yerba Buena Center for Performing Arts, LMS4
Right next to the theater is a beautiful park with waterfalls and an outdoor stage surrounded by interesting looking buildings. After a few minutes a panhandler who cant play drums approached and oversold himself. I refuse to give him my spare change. Somehow I convince him to leave me alone with my own sob story and he backs off. (Place wry grin here.)
I hooked up with a few guys from the snare line and we tooled around the area and headed over to Chevys for some chow and hype. Carlos told us a great story about how when he marched snare in SCV in 81their drum line almost missed DCI Midwest because they were watching the Bayonne Bridgemen on TV at the bar across the street. They had to run onto the field still pulling their uniforms on as they came through the tunnel and were confronted by a most perturbed Gail Royer. OMG, that is a classic.
Later on the corps gathered to warm up by the fountains outside the theater before going inside for a sound check. Afterwards we went inside to watch the performances. I only saw the crowd favorite, the Blue Devil C Corps and the extremely talented Raiders Dance Troop. The rest of the time was spent outside listening to bag pipes warming up and tapping on my drum pad.
The show inside was running so smoothly that the event was running ahead of schedule. The corps warmed up and proceeded to tiptoe backstage trying not to make any sounds, not to disturb the SCV Alumni Guard as they performed on stage their masterful show for the final time. Sniff.
Show time shields down as we slid our sunglasses down over our eyes and pushed our earplugs in a little tighter and adjusted our rolled up sleeves. We dressed center intensely surrounded by the entire horn line. The bass drum line elevated behind us along with contras and up goes the curtain and the spot lights begin glare on and off as the crowd went wild with approval. We performed the on field warm up, opener and drum solo as well as possible in what seemed almost a few seconds. More loud applause and we headed back stage to talk about the experience in the hallway and congratulate those we had met over the weekend and older friends we have known from the past.
This is the finest theater I have ever had the pleasure of performing in and I cant tell the Renegades members and especially the corps leadership how much I appreciate their hard work and effort to bring such a great event to fruition. Check out the photos and sounds at www.renegades.org and pick up a cool black shirt with the Renegod on it. (plug)
AKA The Snapettes Mom
Renegades 03 Snare