Rising Tides by John Riley: Chapter 6

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!

July 19, 2015 – San Antonio, Texas

With three weeks left of tour, they begin to make their way out of Texas and Oklahoma for the Southern leg of the tour that culminates in Atlanta, Georgia.

Pacific Crest wraps up last week and commences this week with a free day in San Antonio on the Riverwalk. It has a small town feel, while still being a draw for tourists, and has a hustle and bustle about it that makes you feel like you’re in a rustic old town along a tiny European canal. Add some southwest flavor, heat, humidity, and drum corps kids and staff at every turn, and that is what makes the San Antonio free day something special for the members.

It was nice to see members across different corps reconnect with each other in a serene setting away from the raging intensity of the rehearsal field and the drone of idle bus engines in parking lots. Everyone who marches a drum corps — is no stranger to the intensity of rehearsal days and the pressure of show day performances — can appreciate the value of a free day.

A free day is a day to unwind and for fellowship with your summertime brothers and sisters. Fond memories are created and forever saved over cheap food court pizza and American versions of so-called Chinese food. Crazy stories are told over and over about the time they got back late to the buses because the waiter at this restaurant was taking their sweet time in dispatching food as well as the bill. But what I lament, in the advent of GPS, is the diminishing number of member stories of how they got lost in an unfamiliar city and had to find their way back to the bus pick up zone. Those were some good times!

July 23, 2015 – Little Rock, Arkansas

There are moments of the show where members get to individually perform – these breakout moments are where members get to put their personalities on display. Their individuality can be seen in how they run from The Catalyst as they take the field to their opening set – this unknown force, this energy, this visibly massive cube that changes the mood of the show.

Greg Trujillo, a second-year euphonium veteran opens the show by throwing his horn up in the air during the first opening impact. So make sure the next time you see the show, you look for Greg. He also tells me that the heat and humidity has been hard on the members who grew up spoiled by the dry heat of Southern California. Heat and humidity does take a toll on a drum corps member and without adequate preparation and commitment to good personal health. The Southern leg of tour can be absolutely brutal on a drum corps membership.

Greg rewinds deep into his memory to the prior day when the corps was in Oklahoma, and how it was pouring rain when the buses rolled in. “When we got in, it was raining, and I was expecting it to be cold, but it was warm and awkward as the rain pelted me. I’m so ready for Atlanta! Dome shows are just so much fun and I can’t wait to throw down!”

July 25, 2015 – Georgiadome – Atlanta, Georgia

After a long bus ride and very little floor time, the members woke up Saturday morning to prepare for their Georgiadome performance. I couldn’t have been more proud of our members – from the professionalism of rehearsing without a lot of floor time, to having a killer run-through, and to lighting up the Georgiadome with an electrifying and emotionally-charged performance.

Brian Stockard is someone I consider a shinning example of the quality and caliber of Pacific Crest Alumni. His involvement with Pacific Crest includes being a member of the drumline in 1996, 1997, and 1999; coming on as full time percussion staff in 2001, 2002, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2013, 2014; and for 2015 it is just for this week from San Antonio to Atlanta. “This part of this week has been all about cleaning up little nuances of the book, as all the basic technique and style has already been laid down in the previous months.”

According to Brian, the greatest challenge the drum corps has had to come up against this week is scheduling. “We need lots of rehearsal time; we’re slotted to go on really early; we got to our housing site in the middle of the night; and our housing site is far from the show. Our kids got three hours of floor time, two hours of rehearsal, and an hour and a half drive to the show today, but that’s the luck of the draw sometimes.

“It’s about consistency, the same approach everyday. The minute you change something just because it’s a show or a big show – that’s when trouble happens.”

This is Stockard’s simple approach to adversity, and it is the simple recipe for excellence. It’s not the only thing. Good training sure helps, but the season really is in the hands of the members. What they do everyday will gradually build or erode away at the final performance product that gets put on the field at Lucas Oil Stadium during Finals week. The drum corps activity is all about choosing excellence and making choices that facilitate excellence, both on and off the field, even when the odds are stacked against you and especially in moments of adversity.

Stay tuned for Chapter 7, as the corps marches north through the Northeastern United States on the way to the coveted Allentown show at J. Birney Crum Stadium.

Catch updates on the website at www.pacific-crest.org as well as “Liking” us on Facebook, following the corps on Instagram, @pacificcrest, following the corps on Twitter, @pcdrumcorps, and our newest social media account, Periscope, @pcdrumcorps!