Jul 12, 2005 3:13pm
Erik J Skinner
  
Mellophone

<I>(from June 24th ... delayed due to poor internet access in Europe)</I>

Hello everyone. This week has definitely had its ups and downs. I’ll start with Sunday, and our flight out here. I spent most of the airport time with Matt, as I made the last purchases and transactions that would need to take place before our transatlantic journey. Aboard the plane, despite the emphasized importance of sleeping on the plane, I couldn’t help but watch the available in flight entertainment, which for me consisted of National Treasure (which I enjoyed greatly), Trading Places (a very funny film) and The Mighty Boosh, a comedy made for BBC 3 which was quite funny. We arrived in London and I stayed awake from there until long after.

We spent quite a bit of time at the Amsterdam airport waiting for the second flight to arrive, so I kept myself busy by doing nothing at all… The green phones they have there didn’t want to cooperate, so I wasn’t able to call home. Speaking of, hello everyone at home! Sorry I haven’t called!

Anyway, I fell dead asleep after trying desperately to stay awake on the bus ride… Which ended up being a good deal longer than expected. I was happy to get to the housing site, where I could actually lay down (the airport would not allow us to sleep on the floor).

Our first day of rehearsal was alright… a bit weird without the color guard (they flew out on Monday). We did however have a barbecue somewhere around town with Disney characters painted on the walls. It was pretty good except trying to pull the skewer out of my chicken resulted in half of it falling to the ground.

The food is very different here, but I am getting used to it. Some of the dishes we have had are quite good, such as the spaghetti, and a variety of snacks. The water is also different, as they add minerals to their mineral water… I guess that kind of makes sense. I do know that when we get to Kalamazoo I am going to drink a whole lot of something very cold, as there isn’t very many cold drinks. I mean cold, like condensation on the outside of the container cold.

Anyway, we had a day of sightseeing in Brussels and Bruges Belgium, which were both pretty cool. I will elaborate later, but essentially, when visiting Bruges, renting a bicycle is a much better decision for an inexperienced motorcyclist. I did have a great time and many fun memories, most not involving a food vendor.

The last two days have been pretty good, all rehearsal. Yesterday jet lag definitely set in as we were all pooped by the end of the evening. Tomorrow we have our first real performances in Europe though, so I am pretty excited. I have to go at the moment as lights out approaches like a menacing burglar lurking in the shadows. Hello to Brianne, hope you got my email from Brussels and are having fun with Blue Justice (BDC’s show for those of you who didn’t know yet), and hello to all my other friends and family! Later.
Jul 12, 2005 3:12pm
Erik J Skinner
  
Mellophone

Hello everyone. Despite the strong closure my last blog brought to this tour, I have decided to return to the internet before we depart to say a few words.

Hello there.

I have been thinking, how many people out there read my blog here on the handsome Blue Devils website. Perhaps one, perhaps many. This is a call to all of you to send me an e-mail, as I will now be able to check it everyday with my cell phone. Ah, the wonders of technology.

But to stay slightly on topic, I will talk about our last day here in Holland for a short while. Well, perhaps I will start with happened last night after I wrote my last blog entry...

We put on a show. Yada yada yada: My lips are shot today.

Actually, it was pretty fun. The bicycle band was incredible to watch. The mellophones got to watch front row center, as we had to stage awkwardly before our stage show. The New Zealand band was also great to listen to as we waited to go one for our brass ensemble performance. In all it was a very memorable experience, especially the finale that involved laser light effects and fog. I'm not quite sure if there really was fog, but for all intensive purposes, let's pretend there was.

As for today, we all started off a bit slow... which is probably due to the fact that we were all incredibly sore in all respects due to the amount of energy we put out last night. Throughout the day, though, we started to really push it and we got a lot of work done on the entire show. We concluded with my best run through to date, even though my chops were completely shot. I was still very proud of being able to push it and put on a great show for the clinic audience in attendance.

I don't have too much else to say about anything, except that I am greatly looking forward to being back in a place where my cell phone works, and I can understand the people announcing our scores. Devil's Food sounds pretty good too. Europe, it's been a great time, and I hope I can come back someday! Look out Kalamazoo, here we come...
Jul 12, 2005 3:00pm
Carlos Parayno Soriano
  
Soprano

Well I finally get to sit down and write a little something.

Europe was an amazing experience, but I'm really glad to be going back to the States. We finished out the day pretty strong with a very productive rehearsal. Our rehearsal also included a clinic for some of the people in Kerkrade. It was amazing to see how many people showed up for our ensemble block after dinner. The Thai kids that are staying at the housing site with us also made it. To be honest, it's a bit akward to be so popular all of a sudden. For the most part we're just a bunch of broke college students doing what we love.

Anyway, I better let Erik do his blogging before we have to get on the buses.

~Carl
Jul 12, 2005 1:26am
Kevin Ronan
  
Contra

This is our final day in Europe, and I think we're all ready to go home. Last night we had a big stage/field show performance which turned out to be alot of fun. It will be nice to get back to the states and be in complete control of our own schedule. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't change anything about this trip...I just know that this group will make some giant steps when we have our own routine in motion.

So, I have to mention this...
There was another band that played with us last night. They did a little marching, but most of their movement was done on bicycles. It was one of the coolest/weirdest things I'd ever seen. Just imagine a marching band on bicycles, and instead of MTXs, their in clogs. Yep, that's what we got to see last night.

If I don't get to write again before the states, let me thank everyone who made this trip possible; it's been a blast. Wish us all luck as we move on to our next project of growing even more in the US.

Much love to my family and friends all over the world...

Kevin
Jul 11, 2005 10:44pm
David Gibbs
  
Executive Director

Hi all ... It is 2AM .. Very late night.

It is SOOOOO hard to put into words the amazing experiences we are having. The stage performance tonight in the stadium was amazing. It was titled .. "Kerkrade by Night".

It started at 10:30pm and I would guess there was well over 10,000 people. The performers were a brass band from New Zealand and Crescendo, a bicycle band. We had a blast participating with these other two outstanding groups. What fine musicians and performers. Crescendo was so much fun. It is awesome what they can do on bicycles while playing their instruments and doing drill. Just crazzzzyyyy.

What an audience.... WOWOWOWO. They truly enjoyed all the performances. Such a large crowd for a non-competitive performance.

The Blue Devils did a 15 minute stage performance with brass, percussion and guard. The corps is so versatile. Then we did our full field show with an instant encore. Then all the groups came out for the grand finale. With laser light shows and water effects. Each group played a song from their country and then all together for the final moment. It was very, very cool. It was a tightly produced and very entertaining event.

There will be nothing like this trip that we all will experience again. The fans are SO appreciative of our appearances. I think we have made a tremendous impression that will hopefully lead to partnerships with our organizations in America.

The musical groups in Kerkrade at the World Music Contest are superb. The variety and excellence are amazing. I would hope one day that all could see these groups and the passion that Europe has for music. It is inspiring.

It is time that we in the drum corps activity realize that we could be connected with some amazing organizations and make this be a true international activity. There are SO many opportunities.

It has been so great traveling with these amazing kids. I so proud. I will miss this experience even though we all look forward on getting home.

I wish there was a way to capture the emotion of the trip. It was and experience that all of us will NEVER forget. It will make a life changing impact on all. And I hope that we have made a positive impact on the performing arts activity in Europe.

All of our hosts in Kerkrade have been awesome. Bart and Nancy. Our hosts at the rehearsal facilities. JUST great. We have made so many friends it is hard to mention all. Harrie an Thea, Jappie and Tom. Everyone at the stadium. What an amazing organization in WMC. I hope that DCI will be able to learn from your passion.

We hope we will see all of our new friends that we have made here in the future. And that we will continue the bond of friendship that we all have made. Please visit us in America. And PLEASE remember that we will always remember you and we could not have done this trip with out ALL of you throughout Europe during these three amazing weeks.

THANK YOU from the bottom of our collective hearts.

Tomorrow our last day and then back to the United States.

Dave
Jul 11, 2005 4:09pm
John M Donovan
  
President

The World Music Contest (WMC) in Kerkrade has been a spectacular event the past few days - and they're just getting warmed-up. The weekend started with a huge festival in the city center, with a number of marching bands (and The Blue Devils) winding their way thru the narrow, fan-filled streets to the square at City Hall. There, each performed a short standstill ... except our Devils - who kept the crowd on thier tip-toes, trying to get a glimpse of the corps over the heads of those in-front of them, thru several tunes. The reaction from the people I was standing near was amazing.

Saturday and Sunday morning were rehearsal days - the corps working hard to implement some minor adjustments and clean the show. While the Devs rehearsed on Saturday, other marching units took to the field at Parkstad Limburg stadium - the venue for the marching competitions.

The competition on Sunday was one of the most interesting marching shows I've ever seen. There were units from several countries in Europe and Asia - bands, drums-only, drums and bells (marching xylophones), and corps-style. All were incredible, in their own way, and the crowd was fully engaged thru the afternoon. However, when the final unit of the afternoon came on the field .... the crowd lit-up. The Blue Devils were announced and had a GREAT performance before the 10,000+ people in-attendance - receiving the only crowd-wide standing ovation of the day.

The awards ceremony was incredible - a full retreat with all of the groups playing as they entered the field. The score for each was announced and the Blue Devils won not-only their category with a Gold "with Distinction" Medal (the only one awarded for the day), but also the 'audience appreciation' and the 'daily high score' awards. Each group then left the field, playing as they marched around the field for the fans. Sometimes there were as-many as 4 groups playing at the same time. It was quite a spectacle.

The organizers of the WMC have a GREAT deal to be very proud of. I can see now why the WMCs are so prestigious and, like the Olympics, are held only every 4 years. Its a GRAND event that I was very proud to have witnessed, as a member of the Blue Devils organization. We'll have to wait-and-see where the Devs placed in the overall standings, as the contests continue thru the month of July.

There's another 'concert' event this evening, "Kerkrade By Night" - which promisses to be another great show for the Blue Devils. I can't wait to see it.

This has been a wonderful experience for me - getting to watch and talk to an entirely new group of Blue Devils fans in a different part of the world. The reaction from the people in Europe has been one of excitement ... and great desire to see more of the Blue Devils in a live setting. Several people I've talked to will be traveling to DCI Finals in Foxboro ... but most have asked when we're coming back. Audiences seem to be thrilled by what we do - and look forward to seeing more of our brand of pagentry.

Our members have had a great time here - experiencing new places, people, and cultures. However, they're focused on getting back to the US and our tour ... and showing our 'home' audiences what they've been working-on so hard to get just right. I'm really looking forward to hearing the reaction from our crowds back home.

We're finally on our way back home to family and work on Wednesday. Thanks to Dave, Pete, our incredible staff, and the members of the Blue Devils for making this a GREAT (and very memorable) vacation for my son Tom and I.

See you in Foxboro.

-john
Jul 11, 2005 10:34am
Carlos Parayno Soriano
  
Soprano

Hey I'm Carl and this is my first blog on the Blue Devils website. A bunch of people have been making blogs and after some pressure from my friends I decided to jump on.

There is so much to write about but so little time. Europe has been an amazing experience and I'm so glad I'm doing it with the Blue Devils. The members and the staff are amazing.

I'll have a lot more to write about. We have about 15 minutes before we get on a bus and put on a show for the people of Kerkrade.

So long for now...
Carl
Jul 11, 2005 10:21am
Erik J Skinner
  
Mellophone

Hello everyone, long time no write. I haven't had enough time and I wasn't able to log in when we had free days... and I have been hooked on reading the Da Vinci code since we got here in Holland...

So a quick recap since my last writing... The days off in Paris and Venice were quite fun. I lost a lot of money, but this time it was due to actually spending it... I saw the Opera House which was quite impressive, Notre Dame, the Arc de Triumph, the Louvre (including the Mona Lisa and possibly some other stuff that I don't remember) the Catacombs and of course the Eiffel Tower: Immensely more huge than I had expected.

As for Paris I had Pizza in a "Crazy Bar" which was quite delicious. We mostly walked around for the whole day... and also took a ride on a Gondola which was awesome just because of the fact that we took a ride on a gondola.

Lecco was fantastic. We had bunk beds and so forth and had all our meals at the wonderful Hop Hop. We got to take a boat tour of the lake which was beautiful, and the gelato made the whole Italy experience memorable.

After a short stay in San Felice, we took a very long trip to Holland... with Italian bus drivers. Let's just say we're much happier with the Dutch bus drivers. We made a stop at a gigantic Shell station in Luxembourg, which is awesome because now I can say I have been in Luxembourg.

Holland has been wonderful. A lot of detail I could go into, but we have gotten a lot of good work done on the astroturf field we call our rehearsal field for now. We had our performance for the competition yesterday and I was amazed at the amount of energy we were able to muster for performing in the full on heat of the afternoon. We ended up winning the weekend which is awesome.

Today we rehearsed for our stage show tonight... which includes our full field performance. I am excited because it should be a lot of fun... the show starts at 10 so it will be our first night show in a while. I am also excited because we will be back "home" in the next 48 hours or so... marking the end of this Europe tour.

At the end of the tour
When the road disappears
If there's any more people around
When the tour runs aground
And if you're still around
Then we'll meet at the end of the tour
The engagements are booked through the end of the world
So we'll meet at the end of the tour

They Might Be Giants - At The End Of The Tour
Jul 10, 2005 1:13pm
David Gibbs
  
Executive Director

Hi all,

We had our World Championship Contest today at Kerkrade for the World Music Contest. What a great venue. The WMC staff and executives were incredible. So helpful, respectful and very nice. Made our experience very enjoyable and easy.

The corps did extremely well. They performed at 3:23pm. It was fairly warm but the corps worked through it. There was around 12-15,000 people in attendance. They sat all around the stadium. Even if their view was not great .... everyone enjoyed the performance. Very great response.

The retreat ceremonies were awesome. All bands and corps played into the stadium. The awards we handed out and all the groups reacted to the score with enthusiasm. This is a very important contest. Then all the groups played off leaving quickly one at a time. At one point, there were four groups playing all around the stadium. It was a very grand event.

The corps scored very well. They received a 95.79. The corps was rewarded the high score of the day trophy and the audience award. This is the first weekend of competition. There are three more weekends. We will not know if we have won the contest until the end of July. But from most reports a 95 is a very good score that should hold up very well.

The corps is off tonight in Maastricht. A very beautiful town nearby. Tomorrow we have our stage performance and then Tuesday is a full rehearsal day and clinic.

It was a great day getting use to world championship pressure and performance. We hopefully will be prepared when we get back home.

Thanks for all the emails ... It really helps us keep going. I have been passing on all you well wishes to the corps.

Dave

Dave
Jul 10, 2005 9:55am
Dylan Minh Thieu
  
Trumpet

Hey guys,

We just returned from the stadium where we performed for the World Music Contest. Man, having a 360-degree crowd was awesome. There were lots of weird marks on the field and I think the hashes were wrong, but it was totally cool and we threw down a great show. Last night's run through was probably a bit better, but what can you expect for 3:23pm.

Kerkrade has been great to us. The weather has been really nice and we've been fed well for the most part. Tomorrow, we'll have a light rehearsal and a theater gig all day, so that should be fun. Tonight, we have a few hours off in Maastricht where much relaxation will be appreciated by the corps.

We've been trucking along nicely with show changes, modifications, and cleaning, but we're still counting down the days in the back of our heads. We can't wait to get to a field we can actually paint.

At the parade yesterday, this groups from Thailand was absolutely nuts about us - so many autographs and pictures. It was almost like that today, especially since some groups are staying on the same grounds. It's really cool to see people in awe for what we achieve as a single unit. Sometimes we forget how we used to look at the Blue Devils from the outside.

Well, it's about that time. We all know how precious free time is in the drum corps world. Too bad San Antonio is our last actual free "day" for tour. Oh well, we'll just be rehearsing and getting better more.

Catch you later.
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