Normally this week, Cedar Rapids and surrounding towns would be welcoming hundreds of young men and women to prepare for the annual
Tournament of Drums competition, but like so many beloved traditions, this year’s show was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic. Still, drum & bugle corps fans can see one bright spot this year, with the publication of a new book about this unique activity.
“Marking Time: A History of Drum & Bugle Corps in Cedar Rapids, Iowa” traces the nearly century-long history of drum corps and drill teams, dating back to the first "junior" corps in Cedar Rapids in 1928. Based on interviews with more than 50 drum corps alumni, former staff, directors, drum majors and volunteers, the book explores the earliest Cedar Rapids corps through the latest in 2001.
The nonprofit Iowa Music & Arts Association (IMAA) received a Linn County Historic Preservation Commission grant last year to partially fund the project, joined by numerous donors. The 100-page hardcover book includes nearly 200 photos of past Cedar Rapids corps, people and memorabilia.
“Without this project to document our past, that collective knowledge would disappear as this generation departs,” IMAA President Mitch Beahm said.
The music and pageantry of drum & bugle corps is rooted in post-World War I American veterans groups, but it was a French immigrant named Jack Fromm who launched and popularized junior corps in Iowa. Bob Steuber, now 96, remembers Fromm as the person who led the Musketeers to a first-place finish in a national competition in 1934, when Steuber was a young bugle player in the Cedar Rapids corps. He was among alumni interviewed for the project. The book was anticipated to be released at the Tournament of Drums, the annual competition revived in 2015, and continued since then by a group of Emerald Knights and
Nite Express alumni. In light of the pandemic, the book can be ordered online at iowamusicandarts.org and volunteers will hold a low-contact distribution day Saturday, Aug. 15, at Bever Park. The media is invited to attend.
What: “Marking Time” book distribution
When: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 15, 2020
Where: Red Oak Pavilion in Bever Park, 2700 Bever Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Cost: Books are $35 if picked up (exact change or check) or $45 if shipped. Order at iowamusicandarts.org
Other: To help protect the health of volunteers, face masks are required.