Friday, August 14, 2009

Hot Brass, Percussion and Visual - Blast!

My daughter and I went to see what's said to be the final Japan tour of Blast!. The brass, percussion and visual performers are young, but are among the best in the world on their instruments. The music and visual performance skills were out in force this afternoon.

If you're not familiar with Drum and Bugle Corps, it's mostly a summer activity governed by the non-profit organization "Drum Corps International", with corps members moving in around May to begin hard 12-hour "all days" rehearsals, and competing throughout the summer across the USA, until finals in August. Each corps has 150 members, which consist of brass, percussion and "color guard" members who do equipment work with rifles and flags while dancing. There are 12 corps competing for the top spot at finals, but many more corps at various skill levels competing all summer. These shows are performed on football fields in stadiums, but the similarity to college marching band ends there, since they exist to compete and perform like it too!

Blast! was born from the Star of Indiana Drum and Bugle Corps, which exited the DCI circuit to form Blast!, a kind of indoor, theatre-based "Brass Theatre" troupe taking the high skills of the best drum corps performers, and performing a kind of greatest hits of drum corps, to thrill audiences everywhere. (Not to mention winning Tony and Emmy awards as well.)

The Japan Blast! tour features snare drummer Naoki Ishikawa, who was a champion "individuals" competitive snare player when he marched in DCI, and who is now a featured performer in the Japan Blast! show. He's got incredible chops, and they feature him well during the Battery Battle portion of the show. The video is the percussionists performing during the break between sets, on kitchen stools and a garbage pail. Humorous. :-)

The Blast! performers did all the hot drum corps favorites like "Everybody Loves the Blues", "Appalachian Spring", "Medea", and "Malaguena" as well as a number of great numbers that were new to me. Overall, the show was about 2 hours of exciting music and visual performance, which had the audience on their feet by the end.

Kudos to Blast! for a great show!


ron said...

Sounds great! I didn't realize that Blast was formed by Star of Indiana. If memory serves, they're the ones who burst on to the Drum Corps circuit with a ridiculously high budget, right? Some kind of rich person/company behind them? So this is their last Japan tour, eh? I'll have to go and catch them in Tokyo before they leave. Good info, as always! Thanks!

Rick Cogley said...

Hi Ron - thanks for stopping by. I am not sure. My daughter said it's the last Blast show, but on further discussion it might be the last Blast with Naoki Ishikawa. He might be moving on to solo efforts.

I bought my tickets via Kyodo Tokyo. Here's the Japan Blast! site:

The history section on the Star site ... has more info on Star and Blast!'s formation.

Yes, Bill Cook, founder of Cook Medical, became interested in Drum and Bugle Corps and formed Star. It's true that the fact they had money was one of the factors that people were arguing against when they were performing. I think that budget was probably just realistic. I imagine the most successful corps today spend that much, for sure.