Keeping the beat: New drumline hypes up the crowd at Crosscutters games

Watch out, baseball enthusiasts, there’s a new game in town – a percussion game, that is.

On select nights this season, Crosscutters fans can enjoy an entertaining show from a new ensemble, the Cutters Drumline, which has been hyping up the crowd with its rousing percussion pieces.

Last summer, EPIC Percussion founder and CEO Marc Garside organized an entertainment drumline for the Little League World Series Parade that was a hit with the fans.

“We were handing out some free sticks, and the line was huge, with a lot of members from our professional level ensembles,” he said. “I don’t think anyone around here ever saw something like that.”

After their success in the parade, the group of percussionists got to thinking about how lots of professional sports teams use entertainment drumlines to pep up their fans.

So, they contacted Gabe Sinicropi, vice president of marketing and PR for the Crosscutters, and asked him if the drumline could perform at a baseball game during the 2014 season.

Sinicropi’s answer was a strong yes.

“We thought it might be a cool idea and something different for our fans,” Sinicropi said

Although the group originally was hoping to just play at one game during the season, it was decided that the drumline would appear at several select games this season.

The crowd was so receptive to the drumline’s show at the first game that the performers were given more time at the later ones. The group now plays about five minutes pregame and two minutes at the bottom of the seventh and the bottom of the fourth.

“Every night the performances get better,” Sinicropi said.

The drumline, led by Garside and his colleague, Ryan Pritchard, is made up of high school and college age percussionists from Williamsport, Pittston and Jersey Shore. Some of them have experience with their high school marching band programs, while others have marched in higher-level ensembles.

Garside says that he and Pritchard typically write all of the pieces, but occasionally have students write compositions.

“When one writes a piece that is good, and achievable for our talent level and time constraints, we hand it out to the ensemble to play,” he said “One student, Max Hospes, wrote a very cool piece that we play called ‘Foul Ball.’ “

The drumline also engages in some theatrical gimmicks to keep the show fresh and entertaining, including an enthusiastic cowbell routine from member Gary Thomas that “gives Will Ferrell a run for his money.”

“The last game we performed at, the Crosscutters were having a rough night, but when we got out there the crowd lifted up and started cheering. I hope that we help get the crowd behind the team in tough situations like that to help them pull out some wins,” Garside said.

The Cutters drumline is one small part of Garside’s EPIC Percussion, which he founded recently.

After his experience with ensembles like the Penn State Indoor Drumline and the Hawthorne Caballeros, he wanted to start a company to teach students in the Williamsport area and get kids interested in percussion.

“Our biggest goal with this ensemble is to get the crowd grooving and having fun, and hopefully to inspire kids to want to play drums. Ambassadors of percussion!” he said

Both Garside and Sinicropi agree that the drumline will perform at Crosscutters games next year as well.

“We do plan to return next year, bigger and better. We know what to expect now, and we want to push the envelope,” said Garside.

He is in the process of coming up with fun new ideas for the drumline, and hopes to expand its entertainment.

Sinicropi is just as enthusiastic about the drumline’s return. “I’m hoping that even I can join the drumline for a future performance. Boomer has also said he wants to give it a shot.” he said.

Garside also said the drumline is still looking for new members. “We’re hoping that next year the interest level is so high that we have auditions for spots,” he said.

The drumline will perform at games on Aug. 21 and Aug. 29, and at the Little League World Series Parade on Aug. 13.