Drum corps stays in Hastings during national tour
The Raiders, pictured here practicing in Hastings Friday afternoon, are hoping to play their way into Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis this weekend. Monday, they edged their way into the Marion, Ind., finals by 0.075.
The Hastings High School Marching Band spent last week at band camp near Dowling, but the sound of brass and drums still resonated in parts of the city.
The East Coast Percussion - Raiders Drum and Bugle Corps was in town on a national competition tour. A group of about 50 students and 18 adults spent Tuesday through Thursday nights at Hastings Middle School and practiced daily on the high school football field.
The corps is based in Burlington, N.J., in the metro-Philadelphia area, and includes students from New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia.
Scott Brown, brass caption head, joined the group two months ago. He lives in Palmerton, Pa., near the Poconos, and teaches at Northwestern Lehigh School District near Allentown.
Most of the high school and college-age students in the Raiders drum corps, he said, are looking to pursue careers in musical education, so they present few challenges to the directors.
“Pretty much whatever you tell them to do, they will do it, and do it in spades,” Brown said. “They’re like sponges – they just absorb it.
The tour, featuring the Raiders’ “Gateway to the Unknown” show, began in late July with stops in Pennsylvania and Indiana. The first competition was Friday night in Plainwell. So, in Hastings, the teens and 20-somethings were still in practice mode. The unusually low humidity and temperatures mostly in the 70s made for a comfortable stay.
“The town itself is nice,” Brown said of Hastings. “It reminds me of a Norman Rockwell-type town. It’s a really nice place.”
His impression of Michigan: “It’s flat! I was surprised at how level the land is. And I like that you don’t have so much humidity.”
After Plainwell, they headed to Avon Lake, Ohio, for a competition Saturday. Monday found them in Marion, Ind., where they squeaked their way into the finals Tuesday.
"By a rail-thin margin of just 0.075,” according to a posting on the group’s Facebook page, “Raiders locked up the last spot among the top-12 groups that will compete in Tuesday’s DCI Open Class World Championship Finals, marking the New Jersey corps’ return to the coveted event after missing out in 2018."
The Raiders finished in 12th place Tuesday evening. The final leg of the journey will be at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, beginning today.
Brown said the group is rebuilding. And even if they don’t place at the top, the students are able to benefit from watching other bands. In Marion, Ind., for example the list of competitors included drum corps from as far away as Alabama, California, Connecticut, Florida, Iowa, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Texas and Wisconsin and even Quebec.
Drum Corps International, the parent company of the Raiders and other similar ensembles, handled arrangements and lodging in various cities. Hastings administrators Steve Hoke and Mike Goggins worked with local band directors Spencer White and Jen Pesch to help make the Hastings stay possible.