Las Vegas Sun

November 20, 2019

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Dreaming a drum and bugle corps on a Vegas scale

Randy Warner has always heard the beat of a different drummer. Now, after 27 years as a very vocal animal protection activist, Warner is a man with an all-new mission. And he wants Las Vegas to march along with him.

In formation.

Here’s the vision: Nevada’s first drum and bugle corps, which Warner hopes to develop into a world-class competitor by 2012. The ambitious plans also include a 150-voice “marching choir” called Vocal Motion.

But wait, there’s more! — percussion teams, a color guard and a dance troupe, even a prospective reality show that would theoretically fund the venture.

Warner has the uniforms drawn up already — in a nod to vintage Las Vegas style, they are an updated version of the pinstriped zoot suit and fedora.

To drum up support and sponsorship for his dream — his really loud, colorful, precision-drilled dream — Warner has created a nonprofit organization, Las Vegas Marching Arts. Since August he has been building a board of directors and raising seed money. He estimates the entire venture, which will involve 500 students and include a 20,000-mile summer competitive tour, will cost approximately $2 million to start up and $1 million annually to continue and keep 150 kids.

Many Nevada high schools already have marching bands. But a drum and bugle corps, Warner says, is “the major league of marching music. To compare a drum and bugle corps to a marching band is like comparing the U.S. Marines to a Boy Scout troop. It’s a different level of responsibility and respectability. It’s Broadway and precision and phenomenal music on a football field.”

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Recently popularized by the hit movie “Drumline” and the Broadway show “Blast!” the modern drum and bugle corps is a marching musical unit consisting of brass, percussion and color guard that falls under the auspices of Drum Corps International and other groups.

Organized into three competitive classes — world class (up to 150 members), open class (minimum 30 members) and international class — drum corps compete for top national and international honors against other corps in their class or division. The annual Summer Music Games Tour and more than 35 world championships in 16 U.S. cities are televised live and simulcast to movie theaters across the country.

According to, more than 8,000 students audition each year for the fewer than 3,500 positions available in top-tier DCI member corps.

• • •

No arts organization could wish for a more passionate advocate than Warner, 54, who wants it known that he “hails from Pleasant Hill, Ohio, home of the great Newton Marching Band.”

A trumpeter since sixth grade, Warner says his home is filled with videotapes and DVDs of drum and bugle competitions and performances. The passion began at an early age.

“When I was 3, I went to the Ohio State Fair with my parents and I kept running away from them because I heard marching bands and I just had to be behind them. And it’s never left me.”

In hope of getting more Las Vegans on the bus with the drum corps experience, Warner is chartering coaches for a one-day round trip to the Rose Bowl on July 4 to see the Blue Devils, the Phantom Regiment and the Santa Clara Vanguard perform on the field, complete with festival and fireworks display.

All ages are welcome; seating is limited; $75 includes round-trip transportation and admission to the show. Visit or call (928) 767-4895.

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