Russ Newbury is counting on another packed house for the annual Drums Along the Columbia, which is July 1 at Edgar Brown Stadium in Pasco.
Newbury, a music teacher at Pasco High and event coordinator, says Drums Along the Columbia is a must-see event because the musicians are the cream of the crop when it comes to drum and bugle corps.
"From the days of the Columbians, the original Tri-Cities Drum and Bugle Corps, countless audience members have become cult followers of what is one of most thrilling live events anywhere," he said.
About two dozen high school students from the Tri-City area are participating in top drum corps around the country, and 20 of them will be performing at the July 1 competition, he added.
Drums Along the Columbia is part of the Drum Corps International Summer Music Games Tour and features a handful of world champion drum corps, including the Blue Knights from Colorado. Also performing will be the Oregon Crusaders from Portland, Cascades from Seattle and The Thunder from Spokane.
DCI was founded in 1972 as a nonprofit organization and has become a world leader in producing and sanctioning competitive marching music. The Summer Music Games Tour is a series of more than 100 competitive events across North America.
"There is such a broad range of talent in these corps," Newbury said. "And all the musicians are from age 15 to 22. All year long, they meet one weekend a month to rehearse about 16 hours a day.
"Then during the summer, they tour the country, sleeping on buses or gym floors wherever they perform. It's a very exhausting and challenging schedule, but the performances are fantastic."
Kevin Swisher, Hanford High's music teacher, likens the event to professional marching bands without the woodwind section.
"The skill and fitness level required of this activity are incredible," Swisher said. "Imagine running across the field, using abdominal muscles to cushion each step so that the upper body is left perfectly still while holding up a brass instrument and creating many, many pounds of air pressure to create instrument tone.
"It's like a runner restricting themselves to two inhales a minute while creating lots of resistance on the long, slow, 25-second exhale."
Drums Along the Columbia also will feature a performance by a quartet of Tri-City trumpet players who used to play professionally: John Ladines, John Nelson, Brent Steinert and Troy Lydeen.
"Next fall, nearly 600 Tri-City high school students will participate in marching bands," Swisher said. "It's an amazing opportunity to bring the best marching organizations here to teach and inspire our students (who) are going to be able to watch rehearsals of bands competing in Drums Along the Columbia at several locations and then attend the actual competition."
The power of the sound created by the competing bands will be unmatchable, Swisher added.
"Patrons who have never been to a marching show before will be amazed at the attention to detail, drill design and powerful sound," he said.
Gates open at Edgar Brown Stadium at 6 p.m. Showtime is at 7 p.m. Admission is $15 at the gate or $12 in advance. Tickets are available at Ted Brown Music off North Columbia Center Boulevard, at Tri-City Bookworm stores and at Adventures Underground in Richland's Uptown Shopping Center.
*Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; firstname.lastname@example.org