The Optimists Alumni Drum & Bugle Corps
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Sucked In Like A May Fly
Submitted by: Gord LeFevre
Delightful comments from newly returned tenor drummer Gord LeFevre on the June 22, 2003, alumni corps rehearsal
I have a better appreciation for the subtle struggles between a trout and a fly fisherman now.
The hook was baited by Vern Johansson the day we met for lunch for a friendly chat back in January 2002, it was set at the second consecutive BBQ/Silent Auction I attended this past May. I actually swallowed it, line and sinker too, somewhere between when the alumni corps finished playing their repetoire and my next brown pop when either Vern or Gord O'Halloran (the brown pops were taking their toll) casually suggested I should join the tenor line. This really wasn't fair, emotionally wracked by a wonderful performance by the alumni corps and finely tuned on some of Canadian's best hops, I folded like a two-buck suitcase.
My wife was as surprised as I was when I told her at 11 a.m. the next day that I was leaving at noon for corps rehearsal. She and the majority (alright, all) of the friends I have made since aging out of the Optimists are not drum-corps people but over the years they have seen my passion for drum corps possess me when I am talking about it or watching it on TV. Unfortunately, my exuberance is typically rewarded with a look of indifference or total incomprehension. This is a Don Cherry kind of thing. You either love it or hate it, there's no middle ground.
My intention for the Sunday rehearsal was simply to check out the lay of the land and go away and think some more about joining; however, shortly after my arrival, I found myself pounding away with Gordo with a new pair of sticks and drum pad to the tenor part for the Party's Over. We were in a little room just off the men's washroom flailing away and I was wondering what I was doing there when I heard the same balanced chords that Kevin Matthew referenced in his recent article. I was instantly transfixed in a time warp of beautiful sounds and memories. I love those Contras too! Boy how Clayton Keat, my friend and former Optimist contra player, would have loved this gig! And Kevin's right, I still remember most of the Corps song although I haven't sung it in years. By the way, thanks to the GCC collaborators for providing the lyrics to this inspirational song in the first geriatic edition of GCC.
My wife is concerned about the amount of time my new adventure will consume, I told her it's only one rehearsal a month. And King Kong is a monkey! The reality is that I am practising daily now, have already attended two additional tenor line practices and my first full-Corps rehearsal this past Sunday. What's better, or worse depending on your perspective, is that I am sure there will be a few more additional drum line practices before September 14th. Oh, the joy!
Speaking of Sunday's rehearsal, it's been 36 years since I lugged a drum around for fun but I was totally unprepared for the assault on my vertebrae when I slapped on a harness and clamped on a drum. I don't remember drums being as heavy as the beauty I strapped on! I think it took about 10 minutes before I felt like Quasimodo undergoing back-straightening therapy. This probably has more to do with my Molson Muscle than with the weight of the drum in which case I'm hoping Lorne can get wheels for the drum stand he is acquiring for me.
I feel like a rookie again, like one who lacks the skill and confidence that are developed through thousands of hours of practice with a hundred other corps-animals who are focused on achieving excellence. While my debut has been less than stellar, the support from my fellow drummers and other alumni is encouraging and valued.
Frankly, it's great to be back in the Line under the banner of one of the greatest junior corps ever.
Something strange is happening to me. It's been gradual, relentless and obsessive. I like the feeling.
I trust I will measure up to the challenge and I look forward to sharing this fantastic experience with every one of you, executive and fans (we have fans?) alike.
Best regards, Gord