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Minnesota Brass hits the road for regional tour

By | Drum & Bugle Corps | 4 Comments
The Minnesota Brass hornline marches in for a recent performance.

The Minnesota Brass hornline marches in for a recent performance.

Fresh off of its exhibition performance Wednesday night in front of a hometown crowd in St. Paul, Minnesota Brass is getting ready to hit the road. This might be an all-ages corps but members are getting a taste of the junior-corps lifestyle this weekend as they head out on a regional tour that takes them to three states in three days.

First up is Friday night’s North Iowa Festival of Brass in Forest City, Iowa. After a three-hour drive from the Twin Cities, the corps will spend the day rehearsing at Forest City High School, the site of the show. This is another DCI Open Class competition, where Minnesota Brass will perform along with the same lineup from Wednesday night in St. Paul – including Blue Devils B, Colt Cadets and Music City.

Saturday morning begins with a rehearsal block in Forest City before the corps makes the six-hour trek to Racine, Wis., for that night’s Kiltie Klassic Invitational. This – finally – will be Minnesota Brass’ first DCA show of the 2014 season, with a lineup that includes Chops Inc., Cincinnati Tradition, the Govenaires and , of course, the Kilties. The Racine show marks Minnesota Brass’ latest seasonal DCA debut since 2006.

Sunday finds the corps back in Minnesota – after an overnight stay in Madison, Wis. — for the city of Red Wing’s River City Days parade. Then it’s back home in the Twin Cities by late Sunday afternoon.

The corps will have traveled about 1,000 miles by the end of the weekend. More importantly, it will have entertained audiences for the first time (Forest City) or for the first time in many years (Red Wing).

“We’re excited to be part of these new shows and perform in front of new fans in Iowa and Minnesota,” said Eric Molho, director of Minnesota Brass. “Plus we’ll get our first read by DCA judges in Racine. We’re looking forward to a fantastic, but busy, weekend.”

Minnesota Brass alumni help celebrate Blue Stars’ 50th

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Minnesota Brass alumni who helped celebrate the Blue Stars 50th anniversary (many also Blue Stars alumni) included, from left, Bryan Borg, Jesse Talbot, Dave Figge, Andy Kuula, Judy Glewwe, Rick Rueckert, Jim Duggan, Kathy Nieters, Penny Pray and Dave Stolson.

Two venerable Midwestern drum-corps families came together recently when about a dozen alumni of Minnesota Brass helped celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Blue Stars. They performed along with Blue Stars alumni from every year of the Wisconsin corps’ storied history and its current members in front of a hometown audience, part of the big DCI show on July 12 in La Crosse.

Judy Glewwe, who marched with the Blue Stars in 1980 and 1981, explained why she had to be on the field that magical night.

“Drum corps has been a big part of my life and has helped shape who I am today,” said Glewwe, who was known as “Judy Blue Star” when she later marched with Minnesota Brass. “There was never any question of if I should march with the Blue Stars Alumni. I just knew I wanted to do it without pausing to think about it too much.”

She added: “I feel like I am part of two big families — both Minnesota Brass and Blue Stars mean the world to me. Drum corps is a part of who I am, and it always will be. …  With drum corps people, there is always a sense of belonging and being part of something big and important. Drum corps members are hard workers, fun and non-judgmental. Who wouldn’t want to be part of that?”

If you missed the performance of the Blue Stars 50th Anniversary Alumni Corps, you can relive it through this YouTube video:

Help Minnesota Brass win the Brass Bucs Cabs Challenge

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BBC Challenge logo_squareThe Brass Bucs Cabs Challenge is on! Now’s your chance — from July 12 to Aug. 23 — to support Minnesota Brass in a friendly fundraising contest with our East Coast DCA friends, the Buccaneers of Reading, Pa., and the Caballeros of Hawthorne, N.J.

All proceeds raised through fans of Minnesota Brass will go toward the corps’ new uniforms. A donation of $100 will buy a pair of pants, $250 a jacket and a shako and $500 a whole uniform. But any donation of $10 or more will gladly be accepted. You can give the effort an extra boost by sharing a link from the donation page on social media, because each share generates an average of $18 more in donations. The corps that raises the most money will earn bragging rights, but — really — all the corps are winners once the generosity of our supporters is tallied.

Make a difference! Support Minnesota Brass in the BBC Challenge.

DCI Eden Prairie makes Minnesota Brass a media star

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Kyle Tsuchiya (center), a 2014 graduate of Eden Prairie High School, performs with Minnesota Brass during an exhibition June 29 in Alexandria, Minn. (Photo: David Whitaker)

Kyle Tsuchiya (center), a 2014 graduate of Eden Prairie High School, performs with Minnesota Brass during an exhibition June 29 in Alexandria, Minn. (Photo: David Whitaker)

Minnesota Brass has been getting lots of attention lately from the Twin Cities media. It’s all part of the excitement building for DCI Eden Prairie, which will feature the hometown drum and bugle corps on Friday night (July 11) along with some of Drum Corps International’s top units .

DCI’s change of venue from its annual DCI Minnesota competition at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis to Aerie Stadium in Eden Prairie played a big part in the coverage. The new site piqued the interest of the suburb’s two weekly newspapers, the Sun Current and Eden Prairie News. The weeklies focused on several members of Minnesota Brass who graduated recently from Eden Prairie High School: mellophone player Olivia Urbanski, bass drummer Kayla Furmanski  and snare drummers Zach Fitzgibbon, Ben Poirier and Kyle Tsuchiya. Also featured were percussionist Peter Wagner, an alumnus of EPHS, and hornline leader Scott Palmer, who also is the band director at EPHS.

Palmer also serves on the brass staff of the Blue Devils of Concord, Calif., which will be competing at DCI Eden Prairie. He talked about working with the 15-time DCI champion and Minnesota Brass, the 2011 DCA champion, at the same time.

“It’s challenging from a schedule perspective,” he told the Eden Prairie News. “They’re both great organizations that are going full cylinder all the time.”

The other corps competing at DCI Eden Prairie include DCI World Class finalists Bluecoats of Canton, Ohio, and Boston Crusaders of Boston, as well as DCI Open Class finalist Legends of Kalamazoo, Mich. Rounding out the field are DCI Open Class favorite Jersey Surf of Camden County, N.J., and an international guest, Blue Saints of Sudbury, Ontario.

As show organizer and Minnesota Brass alum Brent Turner told the EP News, the Blue Devils are expected to have stiff competition from the Bluecoats. “They’re kind of the underdogs right now,” he said of the Bluecoats.

That showdown is one of the reasons why the Minneapolis Star Tribune selected DCI Eden Prairie as a “Best Bet” – with a shout-out to Minnesota Brass – in its Events Calendar and its free Going Out app, which rounds up Twin Cities happenings for thousands of mobile users. The Star Tribune also featured DCI Eden Prairie in its west-suburban community section.

It’s not too late to buy tickets to DCI Eden Prairie – 7:30 p.m. July 11 at Eden Prairie High School Stadium (17185 Valley View Rd., Eden Prairie). It promises to be a great night for Minnesota Brass and drum corps fans.

Corps necklace establishes a new Minnesota Brass tradition

By | Drum & Bugle Corps, Indoor Drumline, MBI Winterguard | No Comments
Trumpet player Marissa Moeller's necklace shows that she has been with Minnesota Brass for one year.

Trumpet player Marissa Moeller’s corps necklace shows that she has finished one season with Minnesota Brass.

When Minnesota Brass takes the field this season, members are wearing more than new uniforms — they’re also proudly bearing a new tradition in the form of corps necklaces. The neckwear was presented for the first time to performers and staff members at last fall’s end-of-season banquet to denote how long each person has been with the drum and bugle corps. But for corps director Eric Molho, the necklaces mean much more than that. “It’s important for all of us to have tangible, meaningful reminders that we’re all part of one organization — and many of us refer to that organization as a family,” he said. “The necklace helps serve as a reminder across different ensembles, different seasons, different sections that we all share a common experience and common connection.” To create the necklaces, Molho enlisted the help of baritone/euphonium section leaders Jacob Welle and Sam Springer, and Linda Belcher of the support staff. The trio drew inspiration from similar efforts from DCI corps such as Spirit of Atlanta, the Madison Scouts and the Colts of Dubuque, Iowa — all of which count Minnesota Brass members among their alumni. “We looked at a few websites to find a ‘look,’ something that was meaningful to us,” Springer said. “But truth is our logo was what we valued most.” Their efforts resulted in necklaces that featured a large center bead with the Minnesota Brass logo on a black cord, along with a variety of beads with meanings depending on color and style:

A close-up of the MBI corps necklace.

A close-up of the Minnesota Brass corps necklace.

* Blue round bead: marching field member * Gray bead: staff member (field, support, administration, board) * White bead: one year with the corps * Black bead: five years * Silver bead: 10 years * Gold bead: 20 years * Red bead: 30 years * Wooden bead: winter drumline member * Light blue glass bead: winter color guard member (A small blue glass bead, available for 2014 only, honors the memory of Kayla Koranda, 18, a member of the winter drumline who was killed in January.) “The beads per section tied them together, and the years just held tight to the fact that we never age out of drum corps; we just age in to senior corps,” Springer said.

Trumpet player Kurt "Flash" Schiebel wears a necklace that shows he has been with MBI for years.

Trumpet player Kurt “Flash” Schiebel wears a necklace that shows he has been with the corps for 28  years.

Now, thanks to the corps necklaces, members can carry around a little part of Minnesota Brass wherever they go. “For each individual, the necklace is now something every member has to signify their experience,” Molho said. “While many of us have jackets and all of us have memories, the corps previously did not make sure that every member had a memento, a reminder of what it is they have accomplished as an individual performer. Hopefully, the necklace will be a source of pride as people recall their own hard work, commitment to excellence and positive experience with the corps.”

(Any Minnesota Brass alumni who are interested in getting a necklace representing their involvement with the corps should contact alumni@mnbrass.org.)