PASCO -- Drums Along the Columbia is much more than an entertaining musical exhibition.
The drum corps event is an opportunity for young musicians to develop life skills including self-discipline, teamwork and leadership, its organizers say.
So what is a drum corps? That could be tough to explain.
"It's ahh, well ... it's sort of like a marching band. ... but, umm, only way better," said Maria Allan, one of the organizers.
Some call Drums Along the Columbia like watching marching bands on steroids, while others compare it to professional marching band performances, she said.
Allan said the event also has been called a cross between a Broadway musical and a marching band show.
However you describe it, the music speaks to the audiences that turn out in droves year after year to watch and listen as six drum corps from five states march into the stadium doing their thing.
This year's event is July 5 at Edgar Brown Stadium in Pasco. Gates open at 6 p.m. Music starts at 7 p.m.
Featured drum corps are the Spokane Thunder, The Troopers from Wyoming, The Cascades from Woodinville, Santa Clara Vanguard Cadets from California, Oregon Crusaders from Portland, and the Denver-based Blue Knights.
Rudy Guidry of Pasco will strut his tuba stuff with the Blue Knights drum corps. He made news earlier this year when he performed at Columbia Basin College's annual Jazz Unlimited Festival.
A Herald story on that performance talked about how Guidry never owned his own instrument since taking up the saxophone and tuba in grade school, using borrowed instruments through the Pasco School District.
But he didn't let that stop him from learning to play. That story caught the attention of Janie Brinkman of Kennewick, who decided to give Guidry her late husband's two saxophones.
"The Blue Knights are kickin' butt this year," Guidry said in a telephone interview this week while on the road with the Knights. "We've got some great new stuff we're doing and audiences are loving it."
Drum and bugle corps units are made up of young musicians between the ages of 13 and 22 who spend summers performing with a variety of horns, percussion instruments, spin flags, and exhibition rifles while marching in a precise field show, Allan said.
The difference between a marching band and a drum corps band is there are no woodwinds in the corps, just brass instruments. And those are played with much more intensity than you'd see at half-time during a high school football game, she added.
Drums Along the Columbia began three years ago when band boosters and music directors from Tri-City high schools got together to organize a show that generates support for high school music programs.
General admission is $12 in advance or $15 at the gate. Reserve seats in advance are $18 or $20 at the gate.
Tickets are available at Ted Brown Music off North Columbia Center Boulevard, Tri-City area Bookworm stores, Adventures Underground and Music Unlimited in the Uptown Shopping Center in Richland and Fiesta Foods in Pasco.
* Dori O'Neal: 509-582-1514; firstname.lastname@example.org