was successfully added to your cart.

Maki’s smile shone brightly on MBI

By | Drum & Bugle Corps | One Comment

If Dick Maki had a trademark, it had to be his blindingly bright, toothy and ever-present smile. And he almost lost that.

Longtime Minnesota Brass trumpet soloist Roger Grupp said he first met Maki when he joined the corps in 1971, and recalled traveling to the 1971 American Legion National Championships in Houston, Texas.

“We had a big pool party at the motel after not making finals,” Grupp said. “Dick jumped into the pool – and broke his teeth!” (Grupp remembered also jumping into the pool himself and hitting his chin on the bottom.)

Grupp also fondly recalled Maki, who had been a member of Minnesota Brass for some 60 years, as one of the corps’ “best and loudest” singers; he and longtime friend and fellow member Frank Lozar, who died in 2014, were the nominal leaders of a group of corps singers known as “The Gummers.” They specialized in “harmonizing” on World War II-era songs, especially “For All We Know,” which has become MBI’s theme song.

The Minnesota Brass Alumni Facebook page exploded with tributes to Dick as news of his passing spread.

Among other honors, Maki proudly wore his Brassy medallion, indicative of his being entered into the MBI Hall of Fame, and was also a member of the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame.

In addition to playing in the horn line (French horn, baritone, tuba) and being a generous financial donor, Maki held a variety of roles with the corps, including serving as director and treasurer.

Former member Mike Palmquist recalled Maki’s work as treasurer while he was corps director and business manager in the latter 1970s. “I couldn’t have run things without Dick,” Palmquist said. “Every time I was getting too ‘spendy,’ he would slap me back to reality. We had a very close working association.”

Offering “advice” to his successors as corps directors apparently was another role Maki enjoyed. Grupp recalled times when then-director Jeff Burnham would make post-rehearsal announcements, “and Dick and Frank and Larry Wogenson would question just about everything Jeff said. There were some pretty heated discussions after nearly every rehearsal … they were all so passionate about the corps. Having three relatively recent past directors there to hear announcements every week must’ve been tough, but Jeff toughed it out.”

“Well, I wouldn’t say they gave me ‘the business,’” Burnham chuckled. “But they did always have something to say.” Burnham, who was corps director in the late ’60s and early ’70s, recalled, “What I liked about those three guys is I’d listen, then ask questions because they did have a history with the group and were loyal to the corps. Dick really wanted the corps to improve and try to get something going. I used Dick for advice and answering questions … Dick was very good to talk with, he knew the old guard and how to interpret them and diplomatically talk to me.”

Burnham also fondly recalled Maki’s roll as a “transitional” role model as the corps evolved over the years. “No matter what was happening or who was doing something, he would try to find the good in what they were doing. He would broadcast it, but he had respect for everybody.”

As an example of Maki’s dedication, Burnham noted his decision to move from French horn, which he’d played for many years, to tuba/contra bass. “He really struggled to learn the contra, but he worked his ass off to do it. I really respected that.”

A memorial service for Dick Maki, who died May 12 (a week before his 83rd birthday), will be held at 1 p.m. June 3 at St. Michael’s Lutheran Church, 1660 W. County Road B, in Roseville, Minn. Visitation begins an hour earlier.

‘The Cork’ enshrined in Drum Corps Hall

By | Drum & Bugle Corps | No Comments

Longtime Minnesota drum corps enthusiast – performer, instructor, judge, supporter – John “Corky” Whitlock was recently elevated into full membership in the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame. He has been an associate member since 2002.

When asked what it meant to be “moved up” in membership status, he laughed, “I’m not sure just what’s involved with being ‘moved up.’ Have to pay more dues, I suppose!” he laughed.

“In any case, it’s an honor.”

He will be inducted into the Hall over Labor Day weekend.

After a year performing with St. Francis de Sales in 1956, Whitlock became a soprano soloist with St. Paul Scouts from 1957 to 1964 and Minnesota Brass from 1966 to 1976. He began arranging music in 1959; he has been brass arranger for numerous drum and bugle corps throughout the Midwest and Washington State, including Blue Stars, St Croix Rivermen, St. Paul Scouts and Minnesota Brass.

He has received the Brassy Award, the Minnesota Brass Hall of Fame and lifetime achievement award. He holds a college degree and has done post-graduate work in music education and taught public school instrumental music for 32 years.

He currently performs with the New Orleans-style Dirty Shorts Brass Band.

Winter Guard Brings Home Silver

By | Drum & Bugle Corps, MBI Winterguard | No Comments

MBI Winter Guard capped its 2017 competition season with sterling second-place finish at the WGI World Championships in Dayton, Ohio, on April 7. It was the second time a unit from Minnesota has won a medal at the national event.

“When we think about the performances of MBI Winter Guard [in Dayton], the word that comes to mind is ‘pride’,” said Jonathan Su, a guard technician for the unit; “pride in the dedication of the members and staff to create an environment of learning and growth, pride in the incredible product put on the floor by the design team, and pride in carrying on Minnesota Brass’ rich legacy of excellence.

“We’ve always emphasized with the members that placement and winning are never the goal, and that improving every day and focusing on making sure every performance was stronger than the last—never regressing—was the definition of success.

“In this regard, we blew success out of the water,” he said.

Under the direction of Wil Furnstahl and Emily Merriman, MBI Winter Guard placed second in Division IA, the second group in the winter guard activity of Minnesota to ever medal at the championships. The guard’s show was titled, “The Bee,” and featured the unit in yellow and black costumes depicting a spelling bee while performing to a soundtrack featuring Eclectica’s “Flight of the Bumblebee/Adagio”.

Describing the collective weekend performances in Dayton, Su said, “After a tentative prelims, the group rose to the challenge and gave the performance of the season in semis, only to top it once more in finals. While this alone is enough to define success, being acknowledged externally is also rewarding.”

He added, “While hardware may rust and fade, the memories and lessons learned from the 2017 winter season of MBI will live on in the hearts of its staff, its members, and the countless amounts of spectators it inspired.”

Winter Finale & Spring Preview

By | Drum & Bugle Corps, Indoor Drumline, MBI Winterguard | No Comments

Join us this Sunday, April 2nd for our winter finale featuring MBI Indoor Percussion and MBI Winter Guard.

Our winter drumline and winter guard are both on incredible trajectories, poised to make an impact at WGI Finals. If you haven’t seen them yet, you need to. If you haven’t seen them recently, you’ll be taken aback. Every performance uncovers something new.

We’ll also introduce the 2017 summer hornline & drumline with our spring preview of the music from our program: Pins & Needles. You’ll hear Hall of the Mountain King, Trent Reznor’s Hurt, Medea, and Death Hunt from On Dangerous Ground all cleverly mixed with that Minnesota Brass sound.

For a $5 donation, you can see the best winter guard and winter drumline in the state of Minnesota, and get a preview of our 2017 summer program music. Your donation helps pay for our facility fees and keeps Minnesota Brass going strong through it’s 71st season and for future generations. Kids under 10 are free.

Location: Brooklyn Center High School (main gym)
Date: Sunday, April 2
Time: 2pm
Cost: $5 (kids under 10 free)

2017 Show Announcement

By | Drum & Bugle Corps | No Comments

2017 marks the 71st anniversary of Minnesota Brass and we’re thrilled to announce our summer program titled, “Pins & Needles“.

Crafted of rags, textiles and other assorted materials, voodoo dolls are pierced with pins with the distinct intention of inflicting physical harm upon targeted subjects. A voodoo doll’s existence is one of pain and servitude, the pawn of another’s will, a surrogate to another’s whim…

Or perhaps not?

We are excited to present a patchwork of sounds and visions that will tantalize the soul and capture the black magic mystery of “Pins & Needles”. Brass arrangements from famed Blue Devils arranger John Meehan. Selections include “In The Hall Of The Mountain King” and “The March Of The Trolls” by Grieg, “Medea’s Dance Of Vengeance” by Samuel Barber, “Coraline” [ending credits] by Bruno Courlais and “Hurt” by Trent Reznor.