Memorial Day Parade

…went well, overall. After leaving the house at 7am, I did zone out on the way up to Novi and missed my exit at the I-475/23 split, and had to backtrack down 23 from Michigan to get back on 475, losing about 15 minutes or so. Then, of course, Mapquest failed to mention that 8 Mile Road was under construction at the I-275 ramp, so I had to do a U-ie in the “Authorized Vehicles Only” lane to get on 8 Mile coming from the other way. All told, I was a good 20 minutes late to meet the hornline. At least they waited for me, though—we were all meeting at the end of the parade route, and carpooling to the start to save us all some headaches after the parade.

Our brass caption head and his brand-new wife were off either getting married or starting on their honeymoon, so we faked our way through warm-ups. That was pretty fun. We also got to fake our way through F-Tuning—anyone who’s heard a marching band or drumcorps warm up just before a performance, facing backfield, playing six chords in a row, you’ve heard it before. (Beth, I’m sure you’ve heard it. Donna too, if you still read this thing. Dan, certainly.) No sheet music for us, just listening to our drum major rattle off notes to play.

“OK, concert pitch. We all start on F, then you guys stay there, and you guys go up to C and stay there, then you guys go to A, then you go to D while they stay on F and you guys go to B-flat, then baris go to C and…”

Confusing, sure. But fun. Oh, so fun.

The parade itself was… long? Weird? Yeah. Two miles or so, which isn’t killing, yet also isn’t comfortable. And apparently Novi has no actual downtown area, so we just marched down a stretch of 10 Mile Road. There were stretches with gobs of people, then smatterings, then absolutely no people for a good quarter-mile. We did get to chill out in the spots with no people, though, which was cool.

Senior corps is increasingly different from Junior corps. In Junior corps, all members are expected to stay at attention during the entire parade, be intense, eyes front, watch your posture, no smiling and waving, etc. Remember, this is your time to practice basic marching technique, so make the most of it… blah. Yesterday, we all did stay in step, and we were serious when it mattered; but once we’d played through the parade tune a few times, we had no qualms about calling back to the drumline, “Cadence or taps for a while? Our chops need a rest!” The baritones also switched which hand they held their horns with every now and then, since their left hand would get tired from holding the horn down at their side after a while. And topping the category of Never In A Junior Corps: our tuba player, Russ, unabashedly answered his cell in the middle of the parade. 🙂

By the end of the parade route, we’d played through Moorside March at least seven times, and once we got to where the TV cameras were, I’m sure we sounded like the freakin’ Salvation Army band. But we made it.

And my lips are still swollen.

After the parade, we all drove our own respective vehicles to Pizza Hut, where we overtook the joint with no one having called ahead. The one server and one pizza cook suggested we all go with the buffet, for the best service. They weren’t very happy with us.

It had been a long time since I met up with a bunch of music folks at Pizza Hut. Back in high school, Mel and I used to do Pizza Hut all the time with our woodwind section (and we left the best tips, though it was all change). Anyway, it was also great to get to actually socialize with these people I’ve been rehearsing and performing with for a while now. I did that a little at the picnic after the Birmingham parade, but not so much as at Pizza Hut. I finally got to hear different corps stories—I think that, by now, Paul knows all mine and I know all of his, since we’ve carpooled to so many events over the years. 🙂

And, best of all, I was home by 2:30. Rock on.

Next parade: Frankenmuth, June 13. Definitely finding a carpool buddy for that one.