Monday, August 30, 2010

DCI Atlanta

On July 31 Donna and I traveled to Atlanta for the Drum Corps International Southeastern Championship in the Georgia Dome. We have attended many drum corps events, but this was our first indoor show. Part of the experience of an event is being outdoors, so I sort of missed that, but I must admit that being cool and not having to worry about bad weather were quite nice ... especially considering the horrendous storm that passed over Atlanta around the time we got there!

This was one of the major shows of the season, and all 23 corps in competition were there. That fact, along with it being only 2 weeks until finals, made this event almost as good as being at finals. 23 shows in one day are a lot even for die-hard fans, though, so we arrived around 5:30 and caught the top 15. All of the corps put on incredible performances, with some creative shows and very clean execution; being a judge would be a tough job indeed. We had a great time watching the shows, and during intermission we checked out the corps' merchandise booths set up in the walkway and picked up a couple of items.

The Madison Scouts marched 20 tubas! That is the most I have ever seen a corps march. They performed a cool show based upon Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue."

The Blue Stars performed a creative show based upon the life of Harry Houdini, complete with a vanishing act at the end.


The Cadets marched onto the field to the playing of "Procession of the Nobles" by the trumpet players up front using herald trumpets - very cool!

Most all corps use silver-plated instruments, but Carolina Crown used gold-lacquered instruments this year - quite nice for a change.

My all-time favorite corps, the Santa Clara Vanguard.

The corps that went on the win the championship, the Blue Devils.

This was a great event that we'll have to plan on attending again next year.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Cowboy Junkies Concert in Asheville

On July 23 I got to see the Cowboy Junkies in concert for a second time! I saw them in February 2009 at the Orange Peel in Asheville, NC, and they played again at this awesome venue. This time I had my trusty sidekick with me; she's not a Junkies fan, but she enjoyed the show.

We got to Asheville in the early afternoon and found that a HUGE annual street fair was in progress. There were lots of vendor booths and music stages, and we had a great time wandering around checking it all out. I especially enjoyed a very eclectic band called Blind Boy Chocolate and the Milk Sheiks; you can view a song of theirs on YouTube (not filmed by me, just one I found.) One of the guys plays a handsaw with a violin bow, making a very cool Theremin-like sound.

After a required visit to the Mast General Store (can't wait until the one coming to Columbia is built!) we enjoyed a very good meal at the Asheville Brewing Company, where I had an excellent black bean veggie burger and fries and a couple of pints of their outstanding porter.

We then headed over to the Orange Peel a bit early to snag a good spot in line; all tickets are general admission, so the early birds are rewarded with seats up front. We did indeed get great seats in the front row and were treated to an outstanding concert.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Blythewood Balloon Festival

On the July 4th weekend, the city of Blythewood, just north of Columbia, hosted a hot air balloon festival. I headed over on the evening of Saturday the 3rd for the wrap-up festivities, where the balloons were inflated and tethered rides were given - the balloons were tied to the ground and allowed to ascend about 50 feet or so, so balloons were constantly going up and down swapping out passengers. I didn't really care to do that (though I would love to take an actual flight in a balloon some day) but I enjoyed seeing them inflated and going up and down. Nice way to spend an evening, and I had a nice motorcycle ride out there and back. :-)

They run on propane - the same as your barbecue grill, only in larger canisters. This balloon had the two that you see here plus another 4, I believe.

The burner