1985 should have been a good year, or in fact, a great year for the Bushwackers. The corps had placed 8th, 5th and 3rd in DCA Finals over the first three years and left 1984 in very strong shape. People expected the Bushwackers to vie for the championship in ’85. Instead this would be a rebuilding year.
In the spring, just before June the hornline had just four sopranos, a total of less than 20 horns, a smaller colorguard and a drumline that would eventually have two of their instructors join the snare line to bring the total to five. Plus the corps would have an entirely new show from jazz guitarist Pat Metheney. If this wasn’t enough we were constantly behind schedule and in fact the entire show was not completed until two weeks before finals when the re-entry was put in.
What were the reasons for all of this? There were many reasons which led into other problems that troubled the corps. First, our show coordinator/music arranger/administrator/horn instructor Al DiCroce was in the process of doing all of the above for Bush and be head horn instructor for Dutch Boy of Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. Al had spent enormous amounts of time creating the Bushwackers and his efforts made the corps the success it had become. But his career was also advancing with Dutch Boy and, just as in sports, success leads you to lose talented people.
But doing a senior corps in New Jersey and a junior corps in Canada, with these important responsibilities involved, is too much for most talented individuals. The work began to suffer. The color guard instructor Sandy Burdzy was also in the same position working for both corps. Then George Zingali delegated more of his drill to his associates and as a consequence the drill was not cohesive and fluid. Added to this was the fact that the administration was living on borrowed time. Money was owed and not enough money was coming in. The instructional staff budget was more like a junior corps than a senior corps. Since the instructional and administrative staffs were disorganized, it was no surprise that the members felt the chaos. And the final item was the corps was just plain burnt-out. Perhaps we started out too fast and wouldn’t let our members catch up? Was this what happened to the Sunrisers in ’84 and the Hurricanes and Buccaneers in ’83? In many respects it was harder to field a corps in ’85 than it was in ’82. More was expected of the Bushwackers now. In ’82 we didn’t know success and in ’85 we didn’t know failure.
Therefore it is all the more amazing that we finished in fourth place, 4.35 points ahead of 5th and 4.1 points behind 3rd. 1985 was the undefeated year of the Caballeros. The Buccaneers and the Sunrisers fought and finished second and third respectively. And the year was marked by the Steel City Ambassadors from Pittsburgh, PA who burst onto the scene placing fifth.
For the Bushwackers it was a struggle but there were other corps that had off seasons too. A new wave of members came into the corps and by ’85 most of the new faces of ’82 were gone. Enough veterans remained, and with some of the new members, created a new nucleus that would see the corps through the season and coming winter.
At prelims the corps put on a good performance and got good crowd response. But finals was another story with little crowd response and a tired performance by the corps. In the end we had less talent, were ill prepared and overwhelmed by the music and the program of the show. Surprisingly the scores improved almost 2 points and the drumline tied for 2nd in percussion. But during rehearsals that Labor Day weekend members just wanted to get the show and season over with. The Pat Metheney show would have worked with any other Bush corps except for the ’82 and ’85 corps. Unfortunately this was 1985.
The Epic, First Circle, Supertonic Suite
Drum Major: Matt Tracey
PRELIMS: 4th – 84.35
FINALS: 4th – 86.55