Alumni Feature: Brad Gessner

Brad Gessner, 1981-1982, Soprano/Drum Major; 1986-2008 Volunteer/Board Member

Brad Gessner joined the Bluecoats in 1981 marching soprano, and returned in 1982 as drum major. After aging out, he drove a bus for the Bluecoats, sold souvies, and occasionally cooked. He was also on the Bluecoats Board of Directors from 1986-2008, serving ten years as Chairman of the Board, and was inducted into the Bluecoats Hall of Fame in 1994.  Brad grew up in Austintown, Ohio where he currently resides. He is a lawyer who serves as Chief Counsel for the Summit County Prosecutor in Akron, Ohio. He and his wife Marylou have two children: Kylie is a student at Walsh University and plays the trumpet, and Conor is a snare drummer at Austintown Fitch High School. In his spare time, Brad likes painting, coaching youth soccer, and helping with band fundraising.

Q. Is there something that you learned in drum corps that you apply in your daily life?
A. What you get out of something is based on what you put in to it.  This works with both horns and people.

Q. How has drum corps had an impact on your life?
A. What a group working together can achieve.  Teamwork. Friendship.

Q. What made you want to do drum corps? Why Bluecoats?
A. In 1975 my big brother was drum major of the Bluecoats.  I had been marching in a youth military band since I was 12, but drum corps was the next level.  Why Bluecoats?  Well my brother Larry introduced our family to Betty and Ralph McCauley, so Bluecoats were it!

Q. Favorite Bluecoats show overall?
A. Probably – if I had to single one year out – 1989 in Kansas City following Sing, Sing, Sing, announcer Curt Gowdy bellowed that “Bluecoats Rocked Arrowhead Stadium!” to the most thunderous applause I have ever witnessed.

Q. What is your craziest or funniest tour story?
A. The wheel falling off the bus from Chicago to St. Louis at 5:00 am and passing me at 60 mph and stopping the bus without an accident!

Q. Favorite city to spend a free day?
A. Kansas City & Independence Missouri

Any advice you would like to give to current members?
Cherish the time you have in Bluecoats, enjoy your friendships, and realize that you have an effect on others, so make it a good one!