Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Drum line camaraderie trumps competition

It was the coolest thing and kept happening over and over.

During Tuesday night's high school drum line competition at the Manatee County Fair, one drum line would be performing, singing out a chant as they rocked, rattled and rolled --- and the other drum lines would call out the chants right along with them from the stands.

For instance, Lakewood Ranch was up, performing and chanting.

Nearby Southeast chanted right with them, waving their arms, bopping along.

Manatee, too.

So did Bayshore over on the other side of the Bright House Main Stage tent.

What gives?

Bob Schaer, Ranch's estimable band director, indulged me.

"All these kids know each other and respect what everybody else does," he said. "The drum line world is a family. No matter what school you're from, they call and cheer for each other. It's very cool."

So "competition" is a misnomer, because it's more about camaraderie.

That was evidenced, as well, by the high- and low-fives drum line members from the Ranch and Braden River exchanged as the latter finished performing and left the stage area.

Bayshore got the same warm reception after its performance.

"These kids like seeing other schools and what they're doing," said Danny Boyd, the Golden Regiment's new band director. "They're all doing the same thing and they respect how much work it takes to get where they're at."

Even when it came down to determining the night's winner -- judges used a decibel meter to gauge each drum line's level of crowd support -- each team cheered for the other.

Southeast was the champion, but all those drum lines were champs Tuesday night.

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