Strike up the band! Nothing that gets the blood pumping more than the beat of a drum. And, on July 6, Southwind Drum and Bugle Corps delivers excitement, spectacle and much more with its free preview show at the Foley Sports Tourism (FST) Championship Field. The Southwind Preview Show at FST is the corps’ way of saying ‘Thanks’ to the community for its support.
Southwind is an Alabama-born drum corps founded in Montgomery in 1980, now headquartered in Mobile. Comprised of high school and college students ages 14 – 21, Southwind’s competitive tour will take it all over the eastern half of the United States.
“While we’re based in Mobile, Southwind draws performers from all over the United States,” offers corps Director Lawrence LeClaire. “Members hail from 15 different states. Yet 14 of our members call Baldwin County home.” During offseason, members travel monthly to Robertsdale High School to rehearse, including 16 straight days of all-day practice beginning mid-June before hitting the road.
“This is next-level kind of commitment on the part of our performers,” continues LeClaire. Performers travel monthly to Robertsdale High School to rehearse, followed by sixteen grueling all-day rehearsals in mid-June “During this time, members sleep on the gym floor and enjoy meals from food trucks. They dedicate their whole lives to becoming extraordinary performers.” And that’s just the beginning.
“On tour this summer, we travel 5500 miles to compete in 18 different shows, through the Southeast, New England, around the Great Lakes and end up at the World Championships in Indianapolis, IN.” During the tour, Southwind will go head-to-head with other performers from around the country. “Most competitions are between seven to ten corps from California to New Hampshire. We’re judged on our ability to perform individually, in ensemble, and our effect on the crowd. In a sense, drum corps shows are more like prize fights and less like an opera. Crowds cheer for the members and yell when they like what they hear. The students feed off the energy. Hearing five thousand screaming fans during and after the performance invigorates them. For their eleven minutes on the field, they become rock stars.”
The Southwind Preview Show allows the corps to put together all the pieces they learned throughout their rehearsals.
“We will arrive to perform, learn to set up the show, dress in uniform, warmup and perform for the audience,” LeClaire said. “We’ll do it all in the presence of the audience in the stadium, which adds extra excitement. Then we’ll perform our show. Afterward, we’ll do some equipment checks, maybe run some chunks of the show that gave us problems, do a second performance, then return back to Robertsdale. We want to give our members a couple of chances to shake out the bugs that night.”
The Southwind Drum and Bugle Corps preview show is entirely free and open to the public. There will also be a souvenir stand, and the corps will be taking donations. Gates open at 6 p.m. and the show starts at 7 p.m.
For more information on this or any other FST events, visit our events page.