2003 Deep River Muster

The Deep River Ancient Muster just celebrated its 50th year in present form, although as an event it is actually much older. The parade "kicked off" at 12 noon and the muster followed shortly after. 63 corps were in attendance as well as many thousands of spectators. Most corps were small, typically 7/15 members and a couple were 30+ strong. Rudimental drumming expertise ranged from entry level to advanced. Although most drumming was performed in traditional fashion, there were some big surprises. Several drumlines used inverted flam combinations very effectively and a few drumlines even backsticked! Interplay between snares and rudimental bass drummers in the advanced lines was just beautiful.

Notable drumlines as they appeared:

Camden Continentals
Lancraft F & D
Ancient Mariners
CT Patriots
The Old Guard Fife & Drum
Middlesex Co. Volunteers

There was many notable corps, but the following stand out:

Middlesex from Massachusetts, one of the top units in the muster, had a very smooth drumline that played extremely well together. Nice sticking and hand to hand patterns throughout. Outstanding appearance with their great looking uniforms.

Lancraft from Connecticut appeared with seven snares and four rudimental bass drummers. Their drum solo presentation was "Rudimenter" written by Earl Sturze, which features all standard 26 drum rudiments. Almost all the members of the line were over 60 years young and what a fine job they did.

The Ancient Mariners, also from Connecticut, with their whimsical lighthearted approach, put on a great show. Fifing and drumming was superb. Their 35+ member corps is a must see at any event.

Another great corps (and my personal favorite) was The Old Guard Fife & Drum. Actually they have bugles too. The drumline is small, perhaps intentionally so, at three snares and two rudimental bass drummers, however, their performance was first class.
The drumline played an extended solo replete with inverted flam combinations, rapid time changes and backsticking. But the "piece de resistance" was the snare line, while ending the drum solo, played a very extended long roll and slowly opened it to a stop….in perfect unison. What a show! Rudimental drumming at its best. Can't say enough about this corps. Immaculate appearance and precision all the way.

Lastly, a group called the Campkids, whose ages ranged from about twelve to nineteen years, put on a fine drumming exhibition. Included was stick-on-drum and stick-on-stick backsticking, with many stick flips and spins added. It was gratifying to see so many fine young people involved in rudimental drumming.

Although I can't tell what the future holds for traditional rudimental drumming, this event, if it didn't accomplish anything else, is proof and testimony that all past great drummers (and fifers) are not forgotten. It is as much a social event as anything else. A place to renew old and make new acquaintances, but perhaps more, a statement on the condition of ancient fife and drum corps in America today. I'm happy I was there.

(View pictures of the 2003 Deep River Ct. Muster)

Gary Pagnozzi