Alumni Feature: Dawn Crandall Bradbury

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.

Q: What was the show that made you want to be a Bluecoat?

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!

Alumni Feature: Celeste Cooning

Celeste Cooning (foreground)

Celeste Cooning marched in the Bluecoats color guard from 1994-1998. Originally from Warsaw, Indiana, she now calls Seattle, Washington her home. A graduate of Indiana University and University of Washington, Celeste is a visual artist working predominantly in cut paper. Her work has graced the Seattle-Tacoma Airport, Starbucks, Seattle’s Jackson Park, Zoe Juniper Dance Company, and Kinesis Project in NYC. (more…)

Alumni Feature: Kevin Armbruster

Kevin Armbruster got his drum corps fix started before age 10, when the Marion Cadets sent their feeder corps to nearby town for a parade.  Kevin was hooked, and drum corps was in his future plans even at a young age.  Fortunately for the Bluecoats, Kevin’s family soon moved to Canton, Ohio and a lo and behold, new drum corps was starting up in 1972.  The McKinley High School band member jumped in with the corps playing soprano. (more…)

Alumni Feature: Bob Rohrbaugh

Bob Rohrbaugh marched in Bluecoats from 1974 to 1977.  His first performance was the Bluecoats’ first judged competition and Bob’s last performance was the corps first DCI prelim appearance in Boulder, Colorado in 1977.  Bob notes many fond memories from those beginning years, but a few stand out.  (more…)

Alumni Feature: Mike Bonnell

mb2Mike Bonnell marched with the corps in the mid 1980s and still lives within a short distance of the J. Babe Stearn Center (the second “the Boys Club” building).  Mike’s earliest memory of the Bluecoats was back in the early to mid 70’s.  His Mom’s best friend lived by the old Boy’s Club on Navarre Rd. and they use to go there on the weekends to visit, and the Bluecoats would be there at times rehearsing.  “We would be out there watching them practice,” Mike said. “ A guy I marched in high school with (Paul Sutter) asked me to come to a Bluecoats rehearsal, so I did.  I was hooked from day one!”

He played soprano in 1984, and 1986; Flugel Horn in 1985.  A memory that sticks out was in 1985, “we did a stand still performance for the Mayor’s Breakfast at 6:00 am before we marched the HOF Grand Parade,” Mike said.  “We were the first marching unit in the parade, after the parade we had a little break, and got to go swimming for a little bit in the Natatorium by Fawcett Stadium. Then we warmed up and performed the pre-game show for the HOF game, got to watch most of the 1st half before we did the half-time show.  After the half time show we loaded the buses and drove to Pennsylvania where we did a night show. When we finally got on the bus it was around 11:30 pm for almost 18 hours of on the go performances.  What a great and really exhausting day, but a day I will never forget.”

Mike aged out 30 years ago in 1986, which was the first time Bluecoats made the top 25. “I gave my original alumni jacket away to a current member.  His name is Justin Cohen, and he is a trumpet player.  I met him last season, and was talking to him about it, and I wasn’t sure if it would fit him because he is much taller than I am, but it fit him perfect!  It was way too small for me to ever wear again, and with this being 30 years since my age out it just seemed to be an appropriate time to pass it on.”

He stays involved in Canton civic functions. “I have done several charities in Canton.  I have played my trumpet at Christmas time for the Salvation Army’s Kettle Drive, I have also volunteered and coached girls fast pitch softball for several years having very competitive teams, and 1 undefeated championship team.”  He is also a regular volunteer for the Bluecoats bingo operation and volunteered to edge all the sidewalks at the Boys Club/ J. Babe Stearn Community Center.   Mike is also a charter member of Rhythm IN BLUE, the alumni ensemble that formed in 2014.  He has participated each season.

He also stays involved with the corps. “This is the 4th year now that I have helped sponsor a member with some of the fees required to march in Bluecoats.  When I marched drum corps it wasn’t as expensive, but I paid my brothers way through Bluecoats in 1984, and 1986.”

He thinks having the alumni involved as much as they are now is awesome.  “I am so proud of the members today.  They are such great character young men and women, and anything the alumni can do to give back is appreciated.”

nb1In 2003 Mike became a Brown’s season ticket holder and started painting his face.  “Through the years I have become quite popular in the Dawg Pound Nation, and in 2014 I was nominated into the Pro Football’s Ultimate Fan Association (PFUFA).  I was invited to be in the Draft Day Movie, and I got to do a Liberty Ford commercial as Facepaint Mike.  I have been interviewed on many occasions by several different news sources, and have had pictures of myself on many national and local publications too.”

Story contributed by Brian DeBoard