Empire Statesmen bringing music and energy to Southern Delaware

This Friday, the Empire Statesmen Drum and Bugle Corps will offer a free clinic and performance at Lake Forest High School in Felton.

Special to the Coastal Point • Submitted: The Empire Statesmen show their stuff.Special to the Coastal Point • Submitted: The Empire Statesmen show their stuff.“There’s never any drum and bugle corps down here,” explained Jeremy Gaddy, assistant marching band director for Lake Forest and an Empire Statesman. “So once I got involved with Empire Statesmen, I spoke to the corps director.”

With that, the director agreed to bring the 130-piece ensemble to Southern Delaware to show off what a drum and bugle corps is.

“Drum and bugle corps would be the marching arts,” Gaddy said. “It’s composed of brass and percussion musicians, and individuals in the color guard who are twirling flags and weapons on the field — all doing coordinated marching while performing.”

From 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Aug. 30, the Empire Statesmen will be all over Lake Forest, holding a normal day rehearsal, in preparation for an upcoming DCA (Drum Corps Association) competition in Annapolis, Md.

“Anybody can come watch us rehearse. We’ll be all over Lake Forest High School. We’ll be on the field, on the back, the front, all day. If you like to march, you’ll enjoy it.”

Following the day rehearsal, anyone interested in learning a little more about their craft is being invited to bring their instruments for a two-hour clinic at the high school.

“The guard instructor, who is called ‘the guard caption head,’ ‘the brass caption head,’ ‘the percussion head,’ all will do individual clinics for those who are attending. If there is anyone who wants to see teaching styles or learn more about brass playing or percussion, they’re going to do a two-hour clinic for them,” he said. “After, we’ll perform our show that we’ll be competing with at 7 p.m.”

Gaddy said that drum and bugle corps is an exhilarating experience and can be enjoyed by anyone who likes music and a good show.

“Marching arts appeals to individuals who have a strong inclination to music but also like a strong visual element. It appeals to all ages. I’ve seen all walks of life at drum corps. I’ve seen people in biker gangs and people who are classical musicians,” he said. “The marchers on the field — we have people who are as young as 13 and a guy who’s almost 70 marching. It’s action, there’s a lot of action, a lot going on. There’s adrenaline with it when you see the energy that can be conveyed by these musicians.”

As a lifelong musician who travels every weekend from his home in Dover to Rochester, N.Y., to march with the Statesmen, Gaddy said that performing with drum and bugle corps is a thrilling experience.

“Performing in drum and bugle corps can be most identified with an incredible adrenaline rush. It’s an incredible emotional rush as you approach the field, as you’re standing in front of sometimes 3-, 4-, 5,000 people. You’re playing music in front of people who are giving you a standing ovation before you’re even finished performing. It’s physically exhausting and probably one of the most amazing experiences anybody could ever have.”

Of Friday’s performance and clinic, Gaddy said he hopes that Delaware musicians and music lovers will attend and enjoy the high-intensity of what drum and bugle corps is, and, hopefully, inspire some more people to get involved in the marching arts.

“I hope it helps make individuals aware of drum and bugle corps — especially in the Southern Delaware region. I feel there is a lack of events and groups coming down this way. Hopefully, this will spark more interest and help keep the marching arts alive and well,” Gaddy said. “The way I look at it is, if two people come up and say they want to march next year, that’s two more people who are marching that weren’t.”

Lake Forest High School is located at 5407 Killens Pond Road in Felton. For more information on the Empire Statesmen or how to join, visit www.statesmen.org.