Before 27 drum corps took the field at the DCI Southeastern Championship presented by Lone Star Percussion, seven SoundSport teams took center stage at the Georgia Dome.
This year, those teams outnumbered both the All-Age groups and Open Class corps combined, a lineup that’s more than doubled since the inaugural SoundSport Atlanta event in 2014.
Drum Corps International’s SoundSport program is just four years young and is thriving, providing an outlet for groups of any age, any instrumentation, and nearly any size. These groups come from a variety of backgrounds, countries, and starter organizations.
On Saturday, the first team to perform was Appalachian Sound, based out of Atlanta itself. In its inaugural season, the group channeled its history and presented a rendition of the ballad “Pretty Saro,” an English folk song popularized by the Appalachian people.
IMPACT Drum & Bugle Corps introduced several new changes to its production since performing at SoundSport events in its home state of Florida earlier this month. New elements included a large banner featuring the corps’ logo and a stage for soloists that glowed with colored lights.
“We were going for a little bit more visual appeal here,” IMPACT director and member Sayre Kulp said. “That was our weak point at our last competition, so we wanted to ‘dress up.’ We added a full-functioning color guard, and I thought they looked great.”
Travelling more than 1,200 miles from Canada, Les Titans de Quebec added an international flavor to Saturday’s event. They served as a reminder that music is a universal language.
“It was very fun,” said Titans member Emilie Goulet-Bouin, referring to performing in a different country. “It was a very long trip, but it is very nice. We’re [also visiting] Baltimore and Myrtle Beach in a few days.”
Florida Xpress took the field looking like a whole new team in comparison to its performances a few weeks ago in Florida, adding a number of restaurant-themed props to its show. The team is known for its “home-grown” production, using a pickle bucket and pots and pans to lay down a beat in the percussion section.
Next in line was Sonus Brass Theater, which also performed in Atlanta in 2015, winning the Best of Show award. The group’s love story production brought the audience into the performance with clapping sequences and singing.
During its third return trip to Atlanta, Huntsville, Alabama’s Rocketeers has expanded in size, expanded in age range, and aims to expand its performances in the future as an all-age drum corps.
“We’re out here having fun, but we also have the opportunity to work with the young people [on our team] and teach them something. The youngest this year I believe is 16, and the oldest is more than 50,” founder and member Bill Gulatt said.
Finally, rounding out an impressive lineup, the Columbus Saints encompassed the size and sound of a potential drum corps, with hopes of applying to become an Open Class DCI corps in the future. Assistant director LeRon Carlton said the group focuses on its Ohio community and includes members who don’t have formal musical training.
“For instance, our first bass drummer has been with us for two years, didn’t know how to read music, didn’t know how to play,” Carlton said. “Now he’s on the field, doing the visuals, playing 32nd notes, and he’s learned everything from our organization.”
SoundSport Atlanta Ratings
Appalachian Sound – Bronze
IMPACT Drum & Bugle Corps – Silver
Les Titans de Quebec – Gold, Best of Show
Florida Xpress – Silver
Sonus Brass Theater – Silver
The Rocketeers – Silver
Columbus Saints – Gold
Four of these teams, including Appalachian Sound, Florida Xpress, the Rocketeers, and Columbus Saints, will continue on to Indianapolis in two weeks for the SoundSport International Music & Food Festival as part of the DCI World Championship festivities on Saturday, August 13.