The philosophy of this organization was, and remains to be to compete at the highest possible level while maintaining its roots as a progressive, yet traditional, ancient fife and drum corps. Since its inception, the corps has never placed lower than second place in any drum corps competition. In addition to being members of the Company of Fifers & Drummers, they are members of the Connecticut Fifers & Drummers Association and the Hudson Valley Drum Corps Association. For years the corps maintained membership in the Massachusetts Fife Drum & Bugle Association. In addition to several corps championships in each of these associations, the corps has won numerous section awards and Northeastern States championships. The medals worn on the uniforms signify achievement in individual, duet and quartet contests, also including many championships.
In seeming contrast to its musical goals, corps membership has always been open to any person not currently affiliated with a corps with no “try outs”. The corps practices in Plainville on Friday evenings.
The medley British is one arranged for and played by the Connecticut Yanks of Bristol CT, the premier ancient corps of the late 60’s into the mid 70’s. Credit for the original arrangement goes to Eleanor Borek, with many of the harmonies added later by the corps’ last instructor Mal Karwoski. The drum arrangement was by Charles Poole Junior.
“Barn Yard Trot”
The tunes played in “Barnyard Trot” are Turkey in the Straw, Chicken Reel, and the Arkansas Traveler. These fiddle tunes are our tribute to the expansionist period of the early 19th century. (Fife arrangement by Jim Shea, drum part written by Paul Cormier)
Morgan Magan, arranged by the Patriots first fife instructor Mal Karwoski, is a fife piece using 3 and 4 part harmony.
Edinburgh Castle has become the theme song of the Connecticut Patriots. This piece was the first contest arrangement played by the newly formed corps in 1978 and is an adaptation of a performance by the famous Royal Marines of England. If you hear this medley being played, you know you are hearing the Patriots. (Fife arrangement Mal Karwoski, drumming written by Jim Clark)
Yankee Doodle is the Connecticut state song. The second time through, pedal tones are added to the fife part to enhance the difficulty and add interest.
The three part fife solo “Brandywine” is taken from the Camp Dupont book published in the early 1800’s. It is in a more melodic key of D rather than the more commonly played version in G. This is one of the very few strictly authentic pieces played by the Patriots.
The next piece is a medley of Johnny Cope and Bummer’s Reel. While these pieces come from different time periods, they blend well together in style. Listen also to the intricate fife patterns of the dance tune, Bummer’s Reel.
Stillman’s Reel is the first song of a medley that also includes When We Go Down to Washington, written to commemorate the War of 1812. The drumming is Crazy Monumental written by Jack McGuire and When We Go Down to Washington, by Robert Redican Sr. both from the early 1950s.
This song is the Patriots acknowledgement to the heritage of the sea and its part in the history of our nation. From the opening of “Sailor’s Hornpipe”, you are sure to recognize most of the pieces. For those familiar with ancient fife and drum, The Black Pearl, written by Roy Watrous will be recognizable as well. The medley, originally arranged by former instructor Mal Karwoski, was modified and rearranged by former instructor Jim Shea. (drum Cormier)
The Patriots acknowledge the strong influence of the Irish on our fife and drum heritage in the medley Irish Mist. It starts with Gary Owen, the battle song of the fighting 69th division, supposedly played by Custer’s 7th Cavalry as they attacked at the battle of Little Big Horn. Easily recognized also are Coming Thru the Rye, Paddy Whack and the Irish Washerwoman. (Karwoski, Cormier)
Southern Comfort is our theme piece of the Civil War Era. Noting the influence of Dan Emmet, the corps plays Dixie, Kingdom Coming, and The Girl I Left Behind Me. (Karwoski, Cormier)
Jaybird & Fireman’s Quickstep is another traditional piece dating back to 1905 and known well by all ancients.
Arranged by Phyllis Thompson, our next medley comprises Tecumseh, Teddy O’Neill, Swallow’s Tail and Dublin Boy, all in 6/8 time and all with an Irish feel. (Thompson, Cormier)
The next piece is made up of Foggy Dew and O’Donnell Abu, both Irish tunes but each with an individual style and feel.
Over the years, the Patriots have played much music which has had to give way to new arrangements. One such competition piece is entitled ”Moonshine.” It has been revived this year and helps illustrate the styles of music played over the years. Ironically enough, it was inspired by the Irish folk group, The Chieftains, who played this piece as a tribute to American folk music. The medley was arranged for the fife by Mal Karwoski. Pieces featured are The Mountain Top, Cotton Eyed Joe, The Parsley Girls and Preacher’s Favorite.
“When Sick Is It Tea You Want?” is as interesting as its name is strange. Its title piece is bridged to Lady Charlotte Murray by a transition created by Jim Shea. The drum solo is echoed with Black Eyed Susan, a unique fife solo, and the piece concludes with The Silver Crown. (Shea, Cormier)
“Bruce & Emmett’s Plus” In the early 1860’s, George Bruce and Daniel Emmett compiled and published a collection of fife tunes and drum beats along with detailed instructions on each of these civil war instruments. “The Drummers’ and Fifers’ Guide” contains several tunes which still strain the ability of fifers. Major Riley’s, Ned Kendall’s are featured in the first half of the piece and Emmett’s Quickstep and Cuckoo’s Quickstep follow after the drum solo composed by Paul Cormier.
“Planxty Laura May ” Opening with the Scottish tune called “Jockey Was the Blythest Lad in A‘ Our Town” , it continues with Irish tunes...”Reconciliation”, “ Coming from the Wedding”, “Coey’s Hornpipe” and “Planxty Thomas Burke”. The corps has recently revived this piece, arranged by Jim Shea. Entitled “Planxty Laura May”, it was named for the daughter of a couple in the fife line. Laura May is now 19 years old and is playing with her mom and dad in the fife line. (Shea, Cormier)
Another 6/8 competitive piece is “Behind the Bush in the Garden” and includes the title piece, Planxty Corcoran, The Boys of Carrigallen, and Planxty Fanny Powers.(Shea, Cormier)
The third 6/8 competition piece is “Cold Frosty Day in Hell.” Starting with Bantry Bay Boys from Riley’s Country Dances for 1798 followed by Helen’s Frolic, an original composition by Jim Shea. After the drum solo is Owl Creek and Wyman’s Quickstep, both from the Bruce & Emmett book. The piece concludes with Chasing the Upstairs Maid, another Jim Shea original. (Shea, Cormier)