A lot has changed from the regulated marching music that comes to mind when thinking of a drum and bugle corps.
In the 1960s, the Seattle Cascades Drum and Bugle Corps didn’t need to travel outside of the Pacific Northwest region to find numerous competitors, events and divisions. Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion were primary sponsors.
But the regulations from these sponsors called for a specific tempo that prevented them from performing things like show tunes and classical music, Seattle Cascades Marketing Director David Haining said.
Haining’s first exposure to drum corps was back in those VFW sponsorship days, when corps performed during the Seattle World’s Fair.
“It was exciting, and I loved it, even though it was very regulated,” Haining said.
Then the directors, after the sponsors wouldn’t change the rules, decided to split and create Drum Corps International.
Now at Renton Memorial Stadium, under the bright stadium lights, eight judges will evaluate performances filled with color, brass, dancing, drums and synchronized movements.
Seattle Summer Music Games is a competitive event between seven drum and bugle corps. The corps come from Texas, Utah, Colorado and more, including Concord, California’s 18-time world champion, the Blue Devils. Each ensemble performs with their own styles, sounds and colors.
“These are seven of the best, most interesting corps,” Haining said. “All have very different programs planned.”
Open Class and World Class divisions compete in this event.
In 2015 and 2016, Seattle Cascades were world class semifinalists. According to a press release, this success has brought membership to an all-time high.
In a proclamation from Mayor Denis Law announcing July 6 to be Drum Corps Day, it states that drum corps provide opportunities for young folks to develop leadership, life skills and express their creativity with high-level artistic performances. Haining received the proclamation and spoke at the city council meeting, and said he wanted everyone to know what a family-oriented event it was.
“If you haven’t seen one of these shows, this is your opportunity,” Haining said. “You will be absolutely amazed.”
Corps performances today are a pageantry art, he said. The music and the themes tie together. Seattle Cascades theme is “Off the Grid.”
After the welcome from the city, Chamber of Commerce and many businesses, Haining said the Seattle Summer Games see Renton as its home. It has been at Renton Memorial Stadium the last few years but will have to relocate next year during stadium renovations.
The event includes pre-show performances from the Seahawks’ Blue Thunder and Sounders Soundwave at a beer garden starting at 2 p.m., across the street at Carpenter’s Hall, 231 Burnett Ave. N. Food trucks and a souvenirs marketplace will also be available at the stadium.
The Games take off in Renton, opening at 4 p.m. and performing at 6 p.m., Saturday, July 6 at Renton Memorial Stadium. More information is at SeattleSummerMusicGames.org. Tickets vary from $25 to $50, with additional reduced group rates, which are for purchase at dci.org.