Sunday, June 22, 2008

Rocking Rockford -- Opening Night Recap



And so it begins!

The weather was fine and the stands were shaking in the town along Rock River. And when the lights finally dimmed shortly after 11 p.m., SAMURAI had been unleashed and the Cavaliers found themselves on top.

Their score of 73.4 got the 2008 summer rolling in the right direction. But the boys' performance is what really blew minds. After Phantom Regiment's final encores faded, a pair of women approached the Cavaliers' souvenir trailed and gushed, "You guys were mindblowing. Simply mindblowing!"

I won't try to put it any better.

After my broken-down '06 Hyundai derailed plans for the Old Man and I to attend the season preview in DeKalb on Friday night, I was highly buzzing and itching to get to Rockford and raise the curtain on what is sure to be an amazing summer. Rockford, like the Green Machine, did not disappoint.

Thanks to all who came out to visit Don Warren and I at our first gig getting Building the Green Machine out to you at shows. This is what it's all about! Great conversation and tingly moments. Here are some of my favorites:

Met Dave Fiedler Jr., son of original Cavaliers drum major Dave Sr., and nephew to second drum major Jarvis Fiedler. Honored to talk to you, sir! Hope the book brings back fond memories of your dad.

Met Gary Warren, a former Belleville Black Knight from the golden 1950s. He suffered a long time for his name in the Cavaliers' "s***-kicker" downstate rivals. In fact, he asked Don Warren to sign his book to "My illegitimate nephew" and told us of how he was herded onto his bus, like the rest of his corpsmates, when the post-championship fight broke out in 1957. He wasn't permitted to jump out and help his "relative" or the Cavaliers, but told us, "in my heart, I was always a Cavalier, I think." Very cool.

Met Gordon, a Madison Scouts alum from the 1950s with lots of stories to tell, including how he battled at the 1957 fight alongside Cavaliers secretary Millie Magee, and was there when she swung her umbrella at eastern combatants.

Met several amazing 2008 Cavaliers, including Dean, an enthusiastic rookie with many gears to go in the ranks. He had Don Warren sign his Cavaliers jacket! And R.J. and his fellow Cadillac baritones. I especially dig, R.J., that you're from Ohio, like me, and know the magic of Skyline Chili!

Also had a chance to chat with Steve Vickers, publisher of Drum Corps World, whom I've spoken to on the phone and over e-mail several times but was happy to finally meet face to face. And had a great time talking with Dan Potter of DCI Field Pass. Look for the segment with Don and I hitting in the next week.

Somehow, in all the excitement, I forgot to eat. So I grabbed McDonald's on my way out of town about 11:30, and ate in the car, finally pulling into the garage back home just before 1 a.m.

Now it's time to prepare for the first broadcast of DRUM CORPS LUNCH, coming to you live this afternoon at 3 central. And the next stop? Look for me at Blue Water Brass on Monday in Port Huron, Mich.