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The Rocketeers herald drum & bugle corps in Madison

The flash, pageantry and expertise of drum and bugle corps is alive in Madison with The Rocketeers.

The Rocketeers rehearse at Grace Presbyterian Church, 5555 Wall Triana.

Founded in January 2011, the group has grown from three to 15 active members — with 20 playing occasionally. Members travel from Nashville, Birmingham and across the region to participate.

The Rocketeers are playing G bugles, or three-valved horns with fingering similar to other brass in soprano, mellophone, baritone and contrabass. Any brass player is welcome, and the corps loans bugles. Percussionists need experience.

Their repertoire ranges from classical (“Nessun Dorma”), jazz (“Birdland”) to blues (“Georgia”). In the future, they may march as a parade corps.

The Rocketeers are North Alabama Drum and Bugle Corps Association’s performing group and a non-profit Alabama corporation. Board members are Bill Gullatt, Doug Childs and Jeff Stewart. The group is affiliated with Drum Corps Associates (DCA) and Small Drum Corps Association.

Music director Thomas Peterson, who plays baritone with The Rocketeers, is a former band director and brass instructor with SouthWind and Memphis Sound. He has performed with Blue Stars and Music City Legend corps.

The Rocketeers’ original goal was to compete in the “mini-corps” event at DCA finals in Rochester, N.Y. A mini-corps has 11 to 21 instrumentalists, one director and can perform on-field choreography or as a standing corps.

The Rocketeers have performed at “Showdown in the South,” Atlanta; DCA Finals, Annapolis, Md.; University of Alabama in Huntsville, joint concert with flute and clarinet ensembles; and Randolph School’s Christmas bazaar.

“We’re seeking musicians with a minimum of high school or college experience,” Gullatt said. Minimum age requirement is 21. “However, we’ll consider as young as 18, based on ability. We encourage those under 21 to participate in Drum Corps International.”

While experience isn’t required, members have performed in corps like Spirit of Atlanta, Cavaliers, Madison Scouts, Alliance and Blue Stars.

Their membership goal is 35. “We all have jobs and a life and can’t always participate in every performance. A larger group will allow for double coverage and full instrumentation,” Gullatt said.

Members compete individually and in ensembles. The Rocketeers’ brass ensemble has competed for two years. “We hope to have a full mini-corps for 2013,” Gullatt said.

Annual dues are $100. Members pay for travel, uniform and instrument expenses.

The Rocketeers rehearse on alternating Sundays at 2 p.m. at Grace Presbyterian Church in Madison (off in September).

For more information, call 256-434-1478, send email to or visit and Facebook/The Rocketeers.


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