Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Drums across the Tri-State Highlight of Band Season

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Drums across the Tri-State Highlight of Band Season

Article excerpt

A sea of bright blue and white uniforms flooded Laidley Field.

The crowd was silent, watching as the Cascades, a marching band group from Seattle, pushed a giant spinning Earth into the center of the field. The steady drumbeat escalated along with the crowd's cheers as many people gazed at the band's cosmic-themed field show. The Cascades were just one of the bands that performed in Monday night's Drums Across the Tri-State competition. Others included Mandarins, from Sacramento, California; Oregon Crusaders, from Portland, Oregon; Boston Crusaders; the Blue Knights from Denver; and the Phantom Regiment, from Rockford, Illinois.

For Rick Valenzuela, executive director of the Phantom Regiment, his group has 150 performers from six different countries - the United States, Canada, Japan, Netherlands, United Kingdom and Germany. The average age is 18 to 19 years old.

"They come to try out from all over the world, he said. "There were 750 kids trying out for 150 spots.

The group left Illinois for its national tour on June 15. Charleston marked the group's 23rd show in the last month. The groups have two more weeks before they head to the national championship in Indianapolis.

Valenzuela explained that scores from Monday night's event won't affect standing in the national championship. Instead, the scores are good guidelines to show where the bands rank and what they can improve.

For some attendees, this is the highlight of the marching band season. Madalene Blackwood, her sister Molly Blackwood and their cousin Ellen Blackwood, all of Charleston, all were excited about the performance.

The Blackwoods, who are band members at Capital High School, said it's an inspiration to see what the groups can do.

"It's the major league of marching band, Molly said.

Madalene said her band director encouraged her to be there. All three said it's one of the highlights of the year. This is the second time they've seen the event, saying usually, these performances take place while they are away at band camp.

"It's like extreme marching band, Molly said. "It's the top. It's something even a person not musically inclined would enjoy.

All three also are looking forward to the Daily Mail Kanawha County Majorette & Band Festival. …

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