Rising Tides by John Riley: Chapter 4

Rising Tides summarizes the past week of tour with in-depth reviews and interviews of Pacific Crest staff and members. We are grateful to alumnus John Riley for writing these stories!

Utah – July 6, 2015

This is what the membership has been waiting for. Sure, tour started in mid-June, but the night of July 5, 2015, the corps crossed the California state line and won’t be back until August. This is tour. Tour is the unfamiliar and the unknown. Tour is the thrill of performing. Tour is the grind. Tour is not knowing what day of the week it is and not caring. Tour is liberation. Tour is freedom to be amazing juxtaposed to a world that will still pay you for mediocrity. Tour is teamwork.

“It’s always sunny in California… HA!”

As I begin writing this, it has been cloudy and overcast all morning in Southern California from my vantage point in the San Gabriel Valley, unusual for this time of July – but today the corps got a sampling of some weather. Last night they left the golden state and after sojourning through the wee-hours, arrived in Utah.

The corps’ first day out of the state in 2015 and they are greeted with rain – torrents of rain.

Six-year tuba veteran, age-out, and 2015 horn-sergeant, Francis Sefton paints for me a picture of the corps’ first day in Utah for me. “It rained a lot! It was pouring – so much that it flooded our rehearsal field, turned it into mud, and we had to continue our rehearsal block in this covering underneath the stadium, but by the time we were done, the hallway that we were standing in was starting to flood.”

Those who know drum corps have come to expect hot and humid rehearsal days as the norm when on tour and in fact the members expect the sweltering heat of the sun on their sun-blocked, tanned, and glistening bodies. But rain has a tendency to un-hinge the daily operations of a drum corps. Alternate plans, modified schedules, back-up facilities that include anything short of a full indoor 100-yard field-house, are less than ideal.

“I would describe the corps as frustrated – it rained for five days straight, but we couldn’t let it become a distraction,” gleans Frank as he’s recapping the week to me.

Assistant drum major Brooke Tomas, who also happens to be a rook-out has one of the challenges of leading the corps even though she’s still getting used to how things are done at Pacific Crest. Not unlike anyone else in the drum corps, if she is asked a question that she doesn’t know the answer to, she has to find out, but first admitting that she doesn’t know the answer – and that’s OK! It’s that humility that I think inspires confidence in the membership, as she is a leader who can also be led. She tells me that she believes that the corps handled the challenges of the week well – they stayed focused and did not let the weather situations impact their rehearsal approach through the week.

Denver, CO – July 11, 2015

By the time Saturday came around, it was another regional day! To say that the corps was thrilled to be able to rehearse outside would be a gross understatement. Drum corps, in actuality, are rehearsal ensembles masquerading as performance ensembles. I say it tongue-in-cheek, but if the average rehearsal day is six hours and multiply it by eight weeks you get 336 hours of rehearsal, as an average. This doesn’t include preseason rehearsal camps or the full rehearsal days while on tour on a non-show day.

The corps went out and had a great day of rehearsal before the Denver regional at Mile-High Stadium. “This was one of the only performances we’ve had to date where I could walk around the whole corps and see them all nodding their heads up and down as if to say, ‘yeah, we threw down today and had an amazing performance.”

Great corps become masters in overcoming adversity. They never allow the situation or the circumstances to infiltrate their strength of their mental psyche and focus. Their faces portray the determination of their will to overcome. They go out everyday, seeking to prove themselves more worthy than their competitors. They are undeterred and unwavering in their purpose. They know how to take care of business on the rehearsal field and while regaled in full uniform on a Saturday night.

The season is long – comparable to a marathon – it will test your strengths, expose your weaknesses, and be unforgiving if you cut yourself slack.

Stay tuned next week for Chapter 5, as the corps makes their way through Oklahoma and Texas!

Also, Pacific Crest could use your help! Yes – yours! Follow this link www.drumcorpschallenge.com, scroll down and click the Pacific Crest helmet. Thank you for your unwavering support of Pacific Crest!

Catch updates on the website at www.pacific-crest.org as well as “Liking” us on Facebook and following the corps on Instagram, @pacificcrest.