25 years ago this winter, the Bluecoats decided to host a different kind of drum corps show for the 1994 season. Actually, it wasn’t really a drum corps show at all. Following the 1993 Drum Corps International season, the Star of Indiana reached an agreement to a series of performances with the world renown Canadian Brass, where the “drum corps” would perform on a smaller scale indoors and then in an even smaller set of vignettes, perform with the Canadian Brass. This venture would eventually spawn Blast! which went on to Broadway acclaim by the end of the 1990s. One of those Blast! designers, Jon Vanderkolff, would join the Bluecoats design staff in 2013.
Star of Indiana was looking for places to perform their indoor gig, which in its inaugural year was way too big and complicated for a theater stage. Then Bluecoats director Ted Swaldo was involved in business dealings with Star’s founder, William Cook, and it was a natural fit that the two agreed to Canton playing host to one of their performances. Leaving behind the familiar trappings of Fawcett Stadium, Innovations IN BRASS in 1994 moved south to downtown Canton and the Civic Center. It was quite a venue change from the outdoor 10,000-seat stadium to a mere 2,000-seat (concert side) indoor arena.
The Bluecoats, in just their fourth show of the season, opened the night with a standstill performance, as the Civic floor is more akin to a basketball court than a football field. Star of Indiana followed, performing a full-fledged drill on a lined tarp with a somewhat condensed, but full ensemble, corps. It was Indoor Winds decades before it became a thing in WGI. Canadian Brass headlined Act 3 and members of Star joined them for a variety of songs that featured staging and choreography. Star of Indiana would continue on after 1994 without Canadian Brass, honing and evolving their indoor concept that was billed as Brass Theater, went to the stage in London and then eventually became the Broadway-based Blast! A few Bluecoat alums, including John Rigano, a member of the Bluecoats snare line in 1994, would go on to perform with Blast!
In what was the most unique Innovations IN BRASS the corps has operated as a fundraiser, the Bluecoats did indeed open for Canadian Brass.