Being a one season age-out, affectionately known as a “rook out”, is challenging in its own right. Regardless of being a one year member or a super vet, the experience of being a Bluecoat is life long. We feature this month 2000 Contra (tuba) “rook out” Dawn Crandall Bradbury.
A: I have loved the Bluecoats since the summer of 1995. Their Homefront: 1945 show touched me every time I saw it. I decided that summer, that one day, I would be a part of this group. I was marching with a Division III corps, and one of our staff members had aged out with the Bluecoats. She talked about the organization very highly, but for me, it was always about the music. I loved the style, the jazz, the sound.
Q: Where did you grow up and where do you live now?
A: I live in central Illinois, and have for my whole life.
Q: Why did you make the jump from your former corps to the Bluecoats?
A: I was with my small corps for five summers, and after two years off, my age out season was staring me in the face. I knew that it was literally now or never. I was never going to have another chance, so I plucked up the courage, and along with my best friend, I went to Canton to audition.
Q: But the musical style of the corps you fell in love with suddenly changed when you auditioned. Yet you stayed on.
A: Imagine my surprise to hear the music that we were going to play that season. The style was different, it didn’t swing, and I was sad. But I was also committed. It was my last year, and I was going to give it everything I could to be a part of that corps. One of the happiest days of my life (up to that point) was when I was offered a contract.
Q: How did you approach auditioning for the 2000 corps?
A: You see, I never learned to read music fluently. So, the off season before 2000 meant a crap load of practicing for me, and a crap load of memorizing. Just the thought of an on-the-fly music change terrified me! I knew I could march and I knew I had the mental stamina to endure, so I learned every note on every page of everything we ever played and prayed that nothing new would be introduced!
Q: How did your single season with Bluecoats impact you?
A: The summer of 2000 was an amazing adventure for me, and it’s one that I dream about to this day and every year. This organization is fulfilling a promise — one that I like to think was fully enacted in 2000. The Bluecoats are always up for a challenge, even when that means changing everything. This is a corps that will provide you with an experience to last a lifetime, a program that you will fall in love with, a staff that is capable of adapting to this ever-changing activity known as Drum Corps, and a family. I couldn’t be happier to be a part of that.
Q: How do you feel looking at the corps a decade and a half later?
A: When I watch the corps now, all I can think about is how, in some small way, I am there with everyone. I’m on the field with all of those kids who are impressing the hell out of me every day. I smell diesel fuel and I’m transported to a parking lot filled with buses… and friends. The smell of freshly cut grass makes me so nostalgic for long rehearsal days, it’s almost like I forgot how crappy some of those days were.
I am so proud to be able to call myself a Bluecoat… even if I’ll never know if I made the corps because I was legitimately good enough, or if the talent pool just wasn’t very big that year. But honestly, I don’t care.
Q: How did marching with Bluecoats shape your future?
A: My career is nothing special, but I think I have a good spin on it. I have been a server at Red Lobster for the past 14 years. I have never felt very upwardly mobile as far as my career goes, but I think being a part of the Bluecoats has given me a lot of determination and perseverance. Marching corps has also helped me figure out, and has given me the strength to pursue, being the kind of person and parent that I really desire to be.
Q: How did drum corps shape you in terms of your own family?
A: I have four children and I have always known that I want to give them a good life — not the kind of life where they get everything they ever ask for, but the kind of life where their parents are available to them as much as possible. So my philosophy in life is to work as much as I need to, so I can spend as much time with my kids as I can, because that’s what I really want to do. So if base success on memories made, my success is immeasurable!