WRITTEN BY GREGG L. PARKER
PHOTOGRAPHS BY JOSHUA BERRY
The Rocketeers have brought the thrill and expertise of drum and bugle corps to North Alabama. The group attracts members across not only North Alabama but also surrounding states.
“We have expanded our inventory of bugles and drums to accommodate 36 brass players and 18 percussionists,” Executive Director Bill Gullatt said. “After being accepted as an applicant with Drum Corps Associates, we are scheduled for our site evaluations in May 2018.”
“I have a passion for music and marching arts and want to share that with others,” Gullatt said. “I also want to make sure the new generation of musicians is exposed to drum corps.” He started playing trombone in 1976.
Founded in winter 2010, The Rocketeers officially formed the North Alabama Drum and Bugle Corps Association, a non-profit 501(c)3 organization, in early 2011. An early goal was to compete in DCA mini corps (21 members, brass and percussion). The Rocketeers competed as an adult brass ensemble at DCA Championships from 2011 to 2013.
In 2013, the instrumentalists won Brass Choir Champions at DCA Championships in Annapolis, Maryland. In 2014, the group became one of the first three SoundSport teams in a pilot program by DCI.
The Rocketeers have received Silver or Gold awards at all DCI SoundSport competitions in 2015-2017. The musicians competed in DCA Mini Corps from 2014 to 2016, and adjudicators scored all three performances in the upper 80s.
“We have worked with Dr. David Ragsdale in the Department of Music at the University of Alabama in Huntsville to secure a rehearsal location for our field corps for the 2018 season,” Gullatt said.
The Rocketeers have purchased uniforms for the field corps from Alliance Drum & Bugle Corps in Atlanta. The color guard bought equipment from Santa Clara Vanguard.
In 2018, The Rocketeers will operate as two separate groups with a full staff:
* The Rocketeers Drum & Bugle Corps — The new, field corps (all age, 14 years and older) that will march a full, field show with brass, percussion and color guard. The field corps’ show will have a Latin theme.
* The Rocketeers – Solid Rocket Brass or ‘SRB’ — The original group as an all-adult mini corps/stage corps that stands in place when playing. SRB has performed at Panoply and plans a brewery concert this summer.
Along with Gullatt, staff members are Doug Childs, Tour Manager; Roque Haines, Equipment Manager; Connor Johnson, Operations Manager; and Thomas Peterson, Program Director.
The Rocketeers will compete in All Age events in both DCI and DCA circuits. Their tentative 2018 performance schedule includes events in four states:
* July 4 — Baltimore, Maryland Parade Circuit.
* July 13 — Millbrook, Alabama, Drum Corps International.
* July 14 — Woodstock, Georgia, Drum Corps Associates.
* July 21 — Columbus, Ohio, DCA.
* August 4 — Pell City, Alabama, DCA.
* August 26 — Hiram, Georgia, DCA.
In addition, these musicians have performed in exhibition at DCI North Alabama at Alabama A&M University and entertained at Russel Hill Cancer Foundation, Straight to Ale Brewery, St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Providence.
They have rehearsed at Lindsay Lane Baptist Church in Athens and now at UAH in Roberts Hall. Anyone interested in seeing The Rocketeers is welcome to visit a rehearsal at UAH. “If our banner is in front of the music building, we are there,” Gullatt said.
For more information, call 256-694-8813, email info@theRocketeers.org or visit theRocketeers.org, Facebook/RocketeersDBC or Twitter #rocketeersdbc.