That Bluecoats “Signature Sound” wasn’t born over night, but took decades to evolve. After going inactive for the second time in 1983, the 1984 Bluecoats major accomplishment was just getting back on the field and down the road. In 1985 the horn line took a step towards strengthening the line with the first instructional guide for brass members. That would be followed five years later by a new guide that deepened the instructional guidelines for a horn line punching into the top 6 in brass. In 1992 a much more thorough book was introduced and in it are the roots of the current Blue Way book for brass players used for auditioning and during the season within the line. Take a look at some of the progression over time behind the Signature Sound.
In just the third competitive season after being officially formed in the winter of 1972, the Bluecoats were the talk of the town… and the nation. Operating in the lower division, known as Class A at the time, the Bluecoats were cleaning up. Newspapers were touting the corps as a “comer” ready to burst among the nation’s best.
THIS WEEKEND WAS A BUSY ONE FOR BLUECOATS AS THE BLUECOATS DRUM CORPS HAD ITS ONE AND ONLY FULL CORPS CAMP, RHYTHM IN BLUE HAD REHEARSAL, AND BLUECOATS OPERATED ITS WEEKLY FRIDAY EVENING BINGO GAME!
At the Bluecoats’ one and only full corps camp of the season, the percussionists were welcomed back for the first time since January and the color guard was all together for the first time this season. This weekend served as a final callback audition for the color guard with the final roster being set on Sunday afternoon. Every section of the corps was hard at work learning and practicing new top secret music and choreography for the 2019 production.
Before they were the Bluecoats, a drum & bugle operated in the same facility that would become the first home of the corps. In 1969, the Canton Police Boys Club put out their usual newsletter and on the front page ran a story about the third year that club had operated a drum & bugle corps. While not a competitive unit on the field, the corps did hit the streets on the parade circuit. The Boys Club corps would continue on for another three seasons before the move would be made to form a competitive unit that would compete on the football field.
Familiar names appear on the front page of the Police Boys Club news: Art Drukenbrod and J. Babe Stearn. Babe was the Executive Director of the Boys Club and Art a local downtown tailor who marched drum and bugle corps with the Canton VFW post known as one of the national powerhouse groups in the '50s and '60s. It was the Canton Police Boys Club Drum & Bugle Corps that marched past Drukenbrod's shop on Cleveland Avenue during the Hall of Fame parade, that fired Art's engine and brought him to the group. Art lobbied Ralph McCauley and J. Babe Stearn to take the next competitive step with their club musical group and on December 1st, 1972, the Bluecoats were born.
Monday Memory is an on-going series that starts off the week with a little history behind the Bluecoats on our website and social media outlets.
The cost of drum corps has always been challenging to the members, regardless of the year. The Bluecoats have offered the members different fundraisers over time to whittle down the cost of dues (the old fashioned way of saying "tuition"). One of the more unique ways a member could lower their out of pocket cost was a raffle to win a trip to Disney. In 1997 Drum Corps International was in the middle of a multi-year agreement to have DCI Finals in Orlando, Florida. Part of the arrangement was Disney hosting Individual & Ensemble contest as well as the (now defunct) parade the day before Prelims. The Bluecoats raffled off a grand drum corps experience to a lucky winner, offering tickets to DCI Finals, Disney park tickets, lodging in a Disney property and six tickets to the Bluecoats Hall of Fame show. Should the winning ticket be sold by a marching member, that member got an extra $100 deducted from their dues. It was a lot of opportunity that netted about $1,000 for the corps. While not the biggest of fundraisers for the corps (the revenue generated from this raffle was less than half of a performance check at a DCI show), it certainly gave one lucky winner a heck of an experience for a fraction of the price.
Monday Memory is an on-going series that starts off the week with a little history behind the Bluecoats on our website and social media outlets
After stabilizing as a Top 12 Finalist in 1988, the Bluecoats took a new competitive step in 1989 with a different design staff. Entering the winter season, business appeared as usual as members reported for their first camp after Thanksgiving and picked up the "blue pages" of rules, regulations and the cost of being a Bluecoat. Touted as one of the least expensive Top 12 corps, the dues structure for 1989 was a paltry, by today's standards, $125 for rookie "member" dues. But the Bluecoats of that era put together an ala carte cost structure. Winter Camps ranged from $6 to $10 per camp. Tack on about another $100 for 11 off-season camps (compare that to four camps for the brass section of the corps, two for guard and percussion today) and the cost rises to $250. An approximate $200 summer meal fee was payable on the first day of tour, and of course the incidentals of gloves, shoes (in 1989 that would be all members, switching from black to white) and so that topped the total dollar amount to right around $500. Adjusted for inflation, that comes to about $1750 in 2018 dollars and about half the price today's Bluecoat pays.
But a scroll through the 1989 "blue pages" (read them yourself!) shows a very different organization. No full time director, an instructional staff that is easily a third of the size of today's staff and corps full of volunteer parents. While those volunteers are key to today's corps, the touring schedule in 1989 was more conducive to part time drum corps organizations. The first half of the season was spent touring regionally, for the Bluecoats in 1989 that was Drum Corps Midwest (no longer around). The second half of the season picked up the wider travel across the country en-route to DCI Championships, which rotated every two years to a new location. 1989 was originally intended to be in Montreal, Canada, but in the winter was returned to Kansas City, Missouri.
In 1989 Bluecoats would wander southeast after Drum Corps Midwest and take in a few Drum Corps East shows (also no longer around) before beginning the DCI touring schedule en-route to Kansas City, which would see the corps jump from 11th to 8th place, sporting a new sound (brass arranged by Jay Dawson, percussion by Robb Muller), new drill design (Bret Mascaro) and a new look with baby blue tops and white pants.