Sunday, May 1, 2022

1978 Guardsmen's maypole in motion for a drum corps May Day

A happy drum corps May Day to my readers! It's a happy day for me, too, as I can continue my preferred theme one more year. Watch 1978 Guardsmen | Greensleeves | Denver, CO from Drum Corps International (DCI).

The birth of a signature tune: 1978 marked the first of 5 straight years that the Guardsmen brought audiences to their feet closing out their production with “Greensleeves.”

0:08 – Poet and Peasant Overture/Light Cavalry Overture
2:31 – Greensleeves
DCI has more on the show in Spotlight of the Week: 1978 Guardsmen by the late Michael Boo. Here is the passage about this part of the program.
Following the concert production was Austrian composer Franz von Suppé's "Poet and Peasant Overture" of 1846. Along with his "Light Cavalry Overture" of 1866, it's one of the very few works by the Romantic-era light operetta composer to still be heard today. During this section the color guard members formed a large maypole from colorful streamers attached to a tall central pole, each holding a streamer in one hand and a rifle in the other.

The Guardsmen performed the closing ballad of "Greensleeves" for the first of three consecutive years in 1978, and it subsequently became the piece fans most associate with the corps. It started life as a late 16th Century English folk song, and was not written by King Henry VIII as is often suggested. By the 17th Century, Christmas lyrics were associated with the tune, but it wasn't until 1865 that the best loved of all Christmas renditions came into being when William Chatterton Dix penned "What Child is This?"

The show ended with a release of several dozen balloons on the back sideline, reflecting the myriad pastel colors of the final color guard flags.
Drum Corps International uploaded this video to celebrate Christmas, but the dance around the maypole during "Poet and Peasant Overture" makes this one of my favorites to celebrate May Day.

I turned out to be premature last year, but I think my expression of resignation has become more timely.
With this post, I believe I have exhausted the theme of maypoles in drum corps. I may conserve my resources, but non-renewable ones eventually run out.
Unless DCI uploads videos of either 1978 or 1979 Santa Clara Vanguard and its maypole during the next 365 days — I can hope, but I can't count on it — I have exhausted this resource. I asked my readers what to use instead last year.
It's time to switch to another theme, such as songs about spring played by drum corps (Appalachian Spring comes to mind), more fake trees in shows like 2012 Phantom Regiment, or just embrace socialist and communist show themes, like "Miss Saigon" by multiple corps and "Animal Farm" by Boston Crusaders. Which do you think I should do? Leave a comment!
I summarized the responses on Facebook in my comment on last year's entry.
So far, people on Facebook have suggested "Spartacus" and wondered why I'm skittish about the socialist meaning of May Day. My responses are that I've already used the first for The Ides of March [twice!] — I consider the subject more Roman than Russian/Soviet — and the second is that I was a Republican for 22 years and some habits die hard. I'll take both of those as comments in favor of "Miss Saigon" and "Animal Farm." I might also use Crossmen's "Protest" show. Never say I don't pay attention to comments. I just wish my drum corps readers on Facebook would leave their comments here.
Treat this as a preview of coming attractions.  May we all be around next May Day to see them.


  1. Those "smokestack" shakos were the bomb!! I remember how cool they looked when I saw the Guardsmen on the field back then!

    1. They certainly were distinctive. When I marched against them, other members of the corps I marched in (I forget if was Anaheim Kingsmen in 1978 or North Star in 1979) remarked that they looked like Abraham Lincoln's top hat, an appropriate choice for one of the corps from Illinois, The Land of Lincoln.