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Home News-Telegram News Spirit Drum and Bugle Corps in town Monday

Spirit Drum and Bugle Corps in town Monday

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For the second consecutive year, Shelby Blezinger has been selected to perform with Spirit Drum and Bugle Corps of Jacksonville, Ala., a competitive Drum Corps International group. Local fans will have a chance to check out the drum line Monday, when Spirit makes a stop in Sulphur Springs to practice between shows.

Shelby, daughter of Steve and Linda Blezinger, plays marimba in the front ensemble for Spirit this year. Last year, she tried out and was selected for a front line vibraphone position with Spirit Drum and Bugle Corps.

The 2009 Sulphur Springs High School graduate isn’t the only member of her family to spend her summers touring with a DCI drum line.

Shelby’s older brother Drew spent five summers in DCI, from 2004-2006 with Southwind Drum & Bugle Corps out of Lexington, Ky., and 2007-2008 with the Bluecoats. He also helped the Winter Guard International group Surround Sound finish out the season, including their world finals. He “aged out” of DCI last year.

In the past, the Blezingers’ parents have split their summers traveling to as many of their children’s DCI events as possible and at home with their youngest children, which this summer includes only youngest daughter Kasey who is already an accomplished member of the SSHS band program.

This summer, the Blezinger siblings’ mom Linda — who admits she’s the only non-percussionist in the family of five — is getting in on the act. She is currently on staff with Spirit, acting as tour manager.

This Monday, Shelby, the 149 other brass and percussionists age 15-21 that make up Spirit, Linda and the rest of the crew that travel with the members  from school to school, venue to venue will be rolling into SSHS in the early morning hours.

Spirit is slated to pull into SSHS parking lot tentatively around 3 a.m. Monday, with its four charter buses, two semi trucks, souvenir truck and trailer, and lead suburban. As is customary for DCI groups, Spirit will perform about 35 shows between mid June and the first week of August, traveling 15,000 total, usually spending one night and day each and no more than two each sleeping on gym floors at different schools.

They’ll then get up Monday morning to begin sectional rehearsals. On show days they leave between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. for the site. Travel days, like Monday, culminate with a full corps run-through.

Local fans can catch a full corps run-through on the SSHS football field Monday evening. The corps welcomes “anyone interested ... to come out and watch the rehearsals. The corps will finish out their day and pack and leave for Van Buren, Ark., around 8 p.m. Monday night,” Spirit officials noted in a press release Friday.

Spirit managers expressed  great appreciation to SSHS for hosting the corps and allowing them use of the facilities for rehearsal.

“Drum corps depend on schools all across the country in the same manner all summer long,” Spirit D&BC Assistant Manager Matthew Burns commented. “We sincerely appreciate the hospitality that Mr. [John]  McCullough and the school system are extending to us. We could not do this if it weren’t for their graciousness. We look forward to being able to come back to Sulphur Springs in future years.”

Spirit is part of a nationwide organization which includes dozens of corps that perform and compete in shows all across the country. Each member must go through an audition process that starts on Thanksgiving weekend the year prior to the next summer’s tour. They may have to return to their audition site several times over the following two to three months before they are offered a position. Once they are a member of the corps, they begin learning the music and the drill at weekend “camps” over the winter and spring months until they go to full-time rehearsals which generally begin the end of May. At that point, they rehearse every day for about three weeks, 12-14 hours per day.

The corps has its own cook truck that provides up to four  meals per day for up to 200 people. Over the course of the summer, this means the cook staff will prepare up to 56,000 meals.

Performance in a corps of this nature is extremely physical and requires a lot of energy. Nonetheless, it is not uncommon for members to loose 20-30 pounds over the course of a summer.

Spirit, like other drum and bugle corps, is similar to a marching band yet different in several ways. Each corps is essentially an independent organization. Spirit started out many years ago as the Spirit of Atlanta. In subsequent years it moved to Jacksonville, Ala., and became affiliated with Jacksonville State University and took the name Spirit of JSU. This past year it parted company with JSU and is simply known as Spirit. Secondly, each Corps performs and competes in the summertime. Each corps is made up of brass and percussion instruments and a color guard. There are no woodwind instruments such as flutes, clarinets and saxophones in a drum corps. Its shows are also longer than a typical band half-time performance as well as much louder and faster.

At the end of tour this year, Shelby will immediately head of to Auburn University in Auburn, Ala.., where she plans to study music, according to Steve Blezinger.

This spring, Shelby was recognized for her first divisions percussion solo at the UIL Region IV Solo and Ensemble Contest held at North Lamar, and in the fall Shelby was among the SSHS percussionists selected to the All Region Band.

For more information about Spirit Drum and Bugle Corps or Drum Corp International, visit www.spiritdrumcorps.org or www.dci.org.




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