Bracken Alumni Holds First Practice in Six Months

Posted on September 24th, 2020

The Bracken Alumni Corps, of Bristol, Pennsylvania started out-of-door practices the week of September 18, following weeks of inactivity during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There are no performances scheduled, so it was just for the camaraderie of getting together, and to keep our chops in shape,” stated music director and brass instructor Chuck Smith, an associate Hall of Fame member inducted in 2002.

“Everyone enjoyed playing with a group, for the first time in over six months, and the corps sounded better than expected after the long lay-off,” he added.

Chuck Smith began a long association with corps in the Philadelphia area in 1954, with Duquesne Dukes.  He then spent seven years with the Pittsburgh Rockets before several decades of service with Archer Epler Musketeers as a baritone player, music arranger, and instructor and arranger for the chorus.  He also served as an instructor or arranger with a number of nationally known corps in the 1970s, including Steel City Ambassadors, Audubon Bon Bons, Bracken Cadets and Bristol Cadets.  He was a high school band director in Bensalem PA for 25 years and has sung professionally with a number of organizations.

The Bracken Cavaliers are widely considered the first junior drum and bugle corps in the United States, formed in the early 1920s.  The Cavaliers won Pennsylvania state championships in 1932 – 35.  The corps is named after Bristol High School grad Private Robert W. Bracken, of Company C, 15th Machine Gun Battalion.  He was the first Bristol casualty of World War I.

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