by Bill Flaker
Trivia question. Who is the current longest serving corps director in DCA? That honor belongs to Jay Morlot (pronounced More-LOW) who will begin his twenty third season as director of the Bushwackers from Harrison, N.J. Jay came from a drum corps family and began his drum corps career at the young age of five marching with the Greenwich, Ct. boys club drum corps. A little know fact is that Jay's father was the president of the Northeast Circuit in the mid 60's before DCA as we know it came into existence, consisting of the top senior corps in the Northeast. At age 16, Jay joined the Hawthorne Muchachos and then added the Bengal Lancers and Fantasia III to his drum corps credits. One day in December of 1981, Jay saw an ad in one of the drum corps papers recruiting members for an upstart new corps in New Jersey called the Bushwackers. Passing over the Hurricanes, Skyliners, and Caballeros, Jay wanted a new and different experience in drum corps and joined the corps in December of 1981 at the age of twenty two. The Bushwackers began as a parade corps in their birth year before joining the competitive ranks of DCA in 1982. Jay played drums, mallets, and keyboard with the corps and was named director of the corps in the fall of 1987, a position he still holds today.
As director of the corps his responsibilities are lengthy and time consuming including hiring of the staff, transportation, scheduling, overall operations, and all financial duties. Jay does not permit the corps to enter an event where it does not make a profit regardless of the offer. In 2008 he was inducted into the Bushwacker Hall of Fame. Each year the membership numbers of the corps are low at the start of the new season but come August the numbers increase and the corps starts moving up the competitive ladder at a fast rate. This is not for a lack of recruiting at high school band shows, word of mouth, newsletters, and the Internet are all used in recruitment. At their home show this past August, the corps held a clinic with more than 200 students from various schools who also were guests of the corps that evening at the show. This event was a huge success and will be brought back again in 2010. I asked Jay what his favorite Bushwacker show of all time was and he didn't hesitate in saying the Sweeney Todd program in 1992 as it was evil, dark, and different for the time. It also captured a DCA World title that year.
As with most corps, the economy hit the corps hard in 2009 especially in the brass line as many potential new or returning members had to choose between work or drum corps. Nonetheless, the corps overcame the situation and still had a very successful season. Travel plans for 2010 are to stay as local as possible to save expenses and busses. Jay stated that the Jersey Shore Invitational hosted by the corps will be returning in 2010 in early August. To describe the style that the Bushwackers portray on the field is difficult as it is a style that is all to themselves, different, and entertaining with the fans in mind. For those drum corps fans who witnessed the "Psychotic Circus" this year, that should hit the nail on the head. Jay feels that the state of DCA today is very solid with a great fan base, but be smart and grow slow. JAY is a huge supporter of the Class A corps and helped Dan Rippon to start the Class A movement. Jay suggested that corps show sponsors should include both Open and Class A corps into their shows to save on expenses by the sponsors and to judge the Class A corps separately.
The Bushwackers have an amazing and little known history fact in that since 1982 the corps has made the top ten at finals each and every year for twenty seven consecutive seasons !! Winning six DCA World Championships, the corps captured their first in 1986 after only four years on the field which as a remarkable feat in itself. Chris Killian who serves as the drum major and brass caption head for the corps does not get enough credit, according to Jay, for the efforts he puts out on the podium each week. Many drum corps fans who follow the competitive season should agree with this statement. The Bushwackers have no rookies in their corps as all members are treated the same and no hazings or rookie shows are permitted. The corps will be holding an open house in late November and Jay asks that all potential new members and returning veterans keep an eye on their web site for the exact date and place for the event.
Jay describes himself as quiet, a man of principle, intimidating, and shy and is not afraid to speak his mind on things he believes in. He remembers his first DCA meeting he attended in 1987. He sat down at the table and no one knew who he was including now President Gil Silva. It wasn't until roll call and Jay raised his hand that all in the room knew who he was. Jay was born and raised in Greenwich, Ct. and is married to Debbie, who he met in the Bushwackers. Debbie was a member of the horn line, percussion line, and color guard during her service with the corps. Daughter Jennifer is a competitive dancer while son Justyn is an avid skier, and skateboarder. Outside of drum corps Jay loves taking trips to Cape Cod and skiing with the family. Professionally, Jay is a gift ware buyer and display designer for a major Fairfield County florist.
My sincere thanks to Jay Morlot for taking valuable time away from his family in helping assist me in this article and for giving the drum corps community his many years of service to the activity.