& Bugle Corps
Formed in the fall of 1958 by a merger of the Empire
State Grenadiers, Cohoes NY and the Berkshire Marauders, Pittsfield MA, the
name “Interstatesmen” was chosen to represent all the members coming from NY
& MA. The idea for the merger came from legendary drill guru, Vinnie
Ratford, who was instructing the Marauders at the time, and who had
instructed the Grenadiers in the past. The uniforms were a combination of
red and black pieces from each corps. The Interstatesmen competed in the
Northeastern Circuit. Our original Director was Walter Wood, followed by
Lionel “Canal” Des Champs, then Al Richards.
Ever increasing excellence saw the Interstatesmen
invited to compete in many prominent open-class contests throughout the
United States and Canada. The corps performed at the original Drum Corps
News sponsored “Evening With The Corps” in NYC’s Carnegie Hall. The
Interstatesmen, with soloist Ron Ghetti, was the first senior corps ever to
perform in this hallowed hall. Drum corps had arrived!
The Interstatesmen introduced a new-sounding brass
instrument, having never before been used in drum corps. It was called the
mellophonium, later shortened to the “mellophone”. This instrument
eventually replaced the French horn in modern drum corps arranging. Dom
DelRa designed and had produced, by Whaley-Royce of Toronto CA, his
mellophones, first used during 1963-1964. If you can ever find one, it will
have the name “Interstatesmen” engraved above the bell. Today, mostly all
corps and marching bands use the mellophone, thanks to the I-men.
The Interstatesmen, now referred to as the “I-men”
by fans, employed many excellent instructors during their rise to
prominence, but the mainstay staff that guided the corps through their most
successful period in the 1960’s were Dom DelRa, brass; John S Pratt,
percussion; “Wild Bill” Hooton and Alan Smyth, marching and show design.
Their efforts and those of others produced a corps that began their climb to
the top. The I-men earned victories over every major senior corps in the US
and CA, except one, they being the Hawthorne Caballeros. Oh, how we wish
they had become a member of DCA early on.
In 1964, the Interstatesmen, along with a group of
other major senior corps, except the Caballeros, started an organization and
voted to name it “Drum Corps Associates”. These corps, as charter members,
pioneered the governing of the drum corps activity by the corps themselves.
New rules were established, prize money increased, and the DCA added new
contest sponsors, and the Caballeros eventually joined. The Interstatesmen
are very proud that DCA is such a successful entity today and that DCI
followed suit in the early 70’s.
Due to lack of local interest, other local corps
disbanding, and the fact that many were called to serve in Viet Nam, this
great senior corps ceased operations in 1967, despite the gallant efforts by
some to keep the corps operating.
Throughout the years, many Interstatesmen members
were called upon to instruct the many corps that existed in NY and MA.
Pittsfield MA, alone, had 7 corps. Others continued as marching members,
judges, corps directors, instructors, arrangers, drum majors, and
volunteers. Connie Keado judged marching at the VFW Nationals and became
Chief Judge of the NYS All-American Judges Assn. Our soprano soloist, Butch
Anderson, became drum major of the Marksmen, Brigadiers, and most notably
the NY Skyliners. Our world-champion drum major, Alan Smyth, became drum
major of the Rochester Crusaders under Vince Bruni. Ron Ghetti and Jeff
Perkins founded Avant Garde in 1975 and moved them into DCI’s top 25 during
their first year of competition. Others still are playing in various alumni
corps, and Bill Hoyt is still marching in DCA and hopes to break the
Hurricane’s Harvey Olderman’s record of becoming DCA’s oldest marching
Four Interstatesmen members have been inducted into
the prestigious World Drum Corps Hall of Fame:
Richard “Butch” Anderson – Soloist, brass
instructor, drum major
Dominick DelRa – brass arranger, instructor,
mellophone bugle designer
Alan Smyth – drill designer, instructor, drum
Walter Wood – director, instructor, judge
One member has been inducted into the Drum Corps NY
Hall of Fame (junior corps):
Jeff Perkins – director, instructor
Surely, the Interstatesmen have much to proud of.
That I-sound will never be forgotten.
(submitted by Jeff Perkins, Interstatesmen Alumni)
Mid-Sixties Interstatesmen Write-up
Historical Drum Corps Publications
Article on Middle Horn Leader,
crediting Dom Delra and I-Men, for the Mellophone Bugle
(scroll down about 2/3rds of the page, for the section:
EVOLUTION OF THE ....MELLOPHONE BUGLE)