40th anniversary of the year the then Garfield Cadets went co-ed. As we hear from DCI's Dan Potter in today's Field Pass, the entire 1969 Cadets' color guard was inducted into the corps' Hall of Fame over the weekend.
credit Dan Potter, DCI Field Pass: .
THE CADET ALUMNI SALUTE SCOUT HOUSE - CANADA'S FAMOUS BUGLE BAND
Scout House on parade, fronted by their famous drum major, Paul Bauer
Part I - background history
It is very difficult to describe the Scout House phenomenon to anyone not fortunate enough to have witnessed one of their performances. They were so unique, and so far ahead in their concepts of showmanship, they were able to seduce an audience that had never seen them before and have that audience standing and cheering long before they actually performed. Their mere presence was electric. Somehow Scout House managed to package innocence, sexuality, creativity, performance excellence, showmanship, and magnetism in a single package
The magic of Scout House on the field
Few who were present will ever forget their first appearance at the Dream Contest at Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City...as they stood at attention in a company front in the backfield area for the entire show, waiting for their opportunity to perform. The hard-sell eastern audience didn't know what to make of them. When they finally took the field in exhibition, they set the thousands of seasoned eastern drum corps fans present that afternoon on fire. Scout House had come into the lion's den, and charmed the lion. It was an amazing experience, and it was the beginning of what would prove to be a unique shared journey for Scout House and The Cadets.
"That's not drum corps!" How many times have we heard that? I heard it for the first time from members of the various corps sitting around me in the side-bleachers of Roosevelt Stadium that momentous day. I wasn't a green kid. My years in junior corps were slowly coming to a close. I knew it wasn't drum corps. I also knew that whatever it wasn't, it was greatness! No, they didn't have the greatest horn line I had ever heard, or the greatest drum line, nor was their M&M execution on a level with other top corps. But, they had something no one else had. It was, to me, indefinable and irresistable.
For many years prior to their appearance at The Dream Contest, Scout House had been the untouchable Canadian National Champion. There were two parts to Canadian championship competitions during that era. The closest analogy I can evoke for the method of evaluation used would be to figure skating. In part I judges were ensconced on step-ladders, with the score for the musical selection selected for that year in their hands. Each corps would then appear to play that same selection, with scoring based on adherence to the original score, technique, musicianship, etc. Part II was called "Fancy Drill," and it was here that Scout House would leave their competition in the dust (think DCI Finals with one corps at the top, and everyone else scrambling to catch up).
In the 1950s Canadian drum corps decided to adopt American competition rules and judging format. At first Scout House attempted to conform, but it proved to be impossible. They were too irregularly shaped to stay in the square box necessary to successfully compete. They lost their championship title, and each successive competition proved more disappointing than the last. Then, once again, the creativity of Scout House determined their new direction. They began to focus more and more on exhibitions at major contests and events, and it was during this period that their international fame exploded. The Cadet leadership watched and marveled
Scout House Color Guard in graceful slow march
The Cadets were long accustomed to other corps looking to them as the model for excellence and innovation. Now, repeated early viewings of Scout House provided a new model for what could be. We slowly entered into a stronger and stronger relationship, based on mutual respect and admiration. For all our differences, our two corps had obvious similarities as well. Both corps placed a great deal of influence on discipline and hard work as tools to achieve excellence. Both realized that "the show" was far more than the performance time on the field. While Scout House was in uniform at all times, with uniform variations for performing, rehearsing, traveling, etc.; realizing that wherever they were and whatever they were doing they were "on stage;" The Cadets had a far more limited approach. Our "on stage time" started when we donned our uniforms, but seldom extended to traveling and rehearsing. We never removed our tunics or other parts of our uniform in front of an audience (many if not most corps would wear uniform pants and a tee shirt after performing), shakos were carried in a certain manner, we cultivated a clean-cut military personal appearance, and we wore a unique pre and post performance garment, a maroon smock. Most people assumed it was to keep our white uniform pants clean, and that was certainly our original intent; but it was also a way to set us apart from the pack. In retrospect those smocks contributed greatly to our image as a drum corps with "class."
Still, our concepts could almost be viewed as primitive compared to what Scout House was accomplishing. The creative genius behind the Scout House concept was Wilf Blum, a somewhat controversial figure in Canadian Scouting and drum corps circles, undoubtedly due in large part to his innovative approach, his somewhat unique personality, and his understanding that "youth sells." His blatant approach to "selling the youthful male image" (think of the first boy-band, Menudo, many years later) to an audience, understandably made many people during those conservative, pre-boy-band-years, very uncomfortable.
L-CG Capt. Doug Houghton. C-horn player Ron Kovach, R- Drum Major Jim Esbaugh
The Cadets, as a Catholic youth organization, were far more conservative; and Scout House challenged us to find a way to reach an audience as they did, while maintaining our own methodology and distinctive image. The interesting part of this developing relationship was that Scout House was not a competitor of The Cadets. While we competed they exhibited. They were well along into their transition from the most competitively successful corps in Canadian history, to an entertainment-force in demand all over North America. Unfortunately that transition ultimately led to their demise several years later.