News From the Top


We are beginning a brand new year for Pioneer! We have put together an excellent staff of teachers, an awesome production giving us a new sound, and a new opportunity to move up the competitive ladder in DCI. It all begins next week at our first rehearsal camp, Camp 1


January 12 – 13 – 14

Forget Not! 1) Pioneer Emergency Contact While Traveling = 414-333-2235

Forget Not! 2) Bring a Warm Jacket! It is bitter cold here. Just a sweat shirt is not enough!

Forget Not! 3) Plan NOT to arrive at camp before 7:00 pm. Many activities will be going on at the school before that, and the parking lot & main entrance will be used by the students’ parents before 7:00. . You will be getting a corps snack at 12:00 am. If you wait until then, you will be very hungry! There are many fast food restaurants close to the western tip of the airport (only a couple of minutes away from camp) that might be a good idea for you to go to before camp!

Forget Not! 4) We will be attending a church service on Sunday morning. Wearing “classy” good apparel reflects the corps’ image and your Pioneer Pride!

Forget Not! 5) Don’t forget to bring along some of the left over money that you got for Christmas. We will have Pioneer Gear (shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies, caps, etc.) available for you to purchase. Mr. Williams, our Souvenir Manager, will be at camp all weekend with a full array of items to show your Pioneer Pride.

Brass Players: Forget Not! To bring your mouth piece with you. If you have none, we might be able to take care of you. Low brass, our instruments use large shank mouthpieces.

Brass Players: Forget Not! To bring valve oil if you have it.

Percussionists: Forget Not! To bring your own sticks/mallets with you to camp.

Percussionists: Forget Not! To bring a practice pad with you if you have one.

Everyone: Forget Not! To bring comfortable loose clothing to march in including tennis shoes. Do not march in jeans! That can be painful!

Forget Not! To say thank you to Roman Jr. who gave 4 days of time to represent Pioneer at the DCI Convention in Indianapolis. Drum Major Jackie Hirn and Guard Sergeant Ally Farrand spent 2 days at DCI’s Drum Majors’ Leadership Seminar. Our Visual Caption Head, Josh Pier was in attendance at the DCI Judging/Instructors’ Conference. And our Electronic Specialist, Robert McCowan, also attended the DCI Instructors’ Conference. All of members of our Pioneer Family gave travel time, as well as their personal time, giving our Pioneer Corps noticeable presence at the 2018 DCI Congress. We thank them all for their “classy” gesture in showing their Pioneer Pride.

Save $$$! We recommend that you DO NOT use PAY PAL to pay for your camp fees or tour fees! They charge an extra amount for you to use their service. So if you are a first year member, your $85.00 camp fee becomes $87.85. If you are a vet, your $60.00 camp fee becomes $62.10. Please remember that. If you paid your entire $2,900.00 Tour Fee in full, it would become: $2,986.92. If you use a credit card for either the camp fee or tour fee payments, the service fee is a flat $3.00 that you would add to your payment. NO EXTRA FEE if you bring a check or cash!

Plan on: Working hard, having a great time with great people, a great staff, great food, great new music,and a great new beginning of Pioneer 2018…Year of the Dragon!

Roman Blenski
Pioneer Corps Director

Those who pre-pay in advance their Camp Fee will contribute to making things more efficient when arriving at the Cudahy Middle School (5530 S. Barland Ave. Cudahy, 53110). You can pre-pay ahead of time by mailing a check, calling with your credit card, or Pay Pal.

This will help you to avoid the long line during registration on Friday night of camp.

This will also allow friends to once again reunite from the 2017 Season and give our new members a chance to meet your teaching staff, and especially our new Brass Caption Head, Mr. Andy Grindle from Jacksonville, FL. It’s getting closer as the excitement mounts for our first rehearsal/audition camp of the 2018 Season!

REWARD: to those who can somehow prepay their January Camp Fee. You will receive a 3-color Better Every Day patch to put on your corps jacket. It is a nice way for us to say Thank-You for helping to make things run smoother.

NOTE: Please do not arrive before 7:00 pm at the school. They have activities going on in the gym and pool before 7:00. The parking lot also might be full before that so don’t arrive too early. Make sure that you get something to eat before you arrive. We will have a snack at midnight after rehearsing.


  • First Year Members = $ 85.00 check or cash; ($88.00 Pay Pal or Credit Card)
  • Pioneer Vets = $ 60.00 check or cash; ($63.00 Pay Pal or Credit Card)

The fee covers all housing, 5 all you can eat meals, awesome instruction, use of equipment, Free Transportation to and from the Chicago O’Hare and Milwaukee Airports, Milwaukee Train & Bus Depot).

To those who are able to pre-pay, Thank-You for contributing to your corps’ efficiency!

Roman Blenski
Pioneer Corps Director





This show was conceived by our Program Coordinator, Mr. Dave Campbell and assisted by his Design Team of Pioneer Caption Heads. Containing historic mythology along with current fantasy conceptions, the show will be enhanced with vivid colorful props along with a partial uniform changes to accentuate very early Irish history. Call it fact or historical fiction, it is guaranteed to once again give our many audiences a highly entertaining and crowd-pleasing production. Also expect some wonderfully added sounds and sound effects never used before with Pioneer produced by our new Pioneer Audio Engineer, Mr. Robert McCowan.



Just call the Pioneer Office (414) 333-2235. We have extras from all our Seasons. Alumni make sure that your Corps Jackets reflect your experience and story.



The answer is because we are looking for extraordinary human beings, not necessarily just having talent, but those having the extraordinary desire to perform in front of thousands of cheering fans. They also are extraordinary by regularly attending rehearsals to not only for making themselves better, but also to become a part of a team with the persistent drive of making Pioneer the best that it can be. While school bands offer musical opportunities, many do not have the amount of time or an adequate amount of teaching staff necessary to push individuals to perform at a very high level. Many of today’s students are comfortable with an hour a day class for five days a week during school hours. That is not wrong. It is just a choice. But again our corps has the resources to give you an intensive summer of music and visual education with the best of competitive performance opportunities throughout the United States.

Many times we rehearse 8 to 10 hours a day plus traveling and performing. Many students would not want to make that kind of effort or commitment to do that. That is why the drum corps experience is so special. We compete with 25 other corps who also seek extraordinary students. Year 2018 will show that our members not only play above average, but they also will move on the field in the way that sports athletes do, and at the same time we are playing music! Add to this the rigors of travel (250-350 miles). Students who do this, enjoy and excel, and are extraordinary human beings.

Yes, corps life is different than the 1960-70-80-90-00-10. It is harder, more strenuous, more demanding, and more costly. The performance level skills are almost what you might call professional. The friends you have now today are not all from our local neighborhoods, from our city, or from a same school. Our Pioneer students come from all over the United States and four other countries. Now that is extraordinary!

The highest cost is not that of money, but rather in the amount of time that includes:

  • 4 Monthly weekend Rehearsal Camps. (January, March, April, and May)
  • An 80 day Tour that also includes a 22 day Spring Training.

What makes our Pioneer Corps special? It is that anyone who attends all of the camps participates with the entire corps. Of course it might not necessarily be with your 1st or 2nd choice, but you do perform in uniform! It costs money to eat, travel, use of equipment, etc. but Pioneer offers a Sponsors of Pioneer Youth (S.O.P.Y.) program that members can use for 100% of their efforts. Pioneer also does have cultural events which promotes the “tension/release” concept. The corps visits historical sites, amusement parks, etc.

Yes, we also do retain a high standard of a social group. We do not tolerate the use of alcohol, drugs, bullying, or any type of harassment. We have appearance guidelines, separate housing arrangements for members (male/female), staff, and drivers. We attend Sunday church services and expect that every member to display “Class” in their lives. That means doing, looking, and saying the right thing at the right time. “WOW!” This sounds like a lot! But that what makes Pioneer the “great value” of the corps world. Sure we are different in a way, but we are ok with that.

As we approach our 3,000th member in our upcoming 57th year, we see the need to fill out our ranks to 150. Size, these days, means a lot competitively. That does not mean that we have not pursued that in the past, but today we also see the increasing demands for the use of special effects, props, and electronics. So we need to evolve with the activity.

As an incentive for you to help us in our recruiting efforts, remember that for each person that you recruit and joins the Pioneer, you will receive a $100.00 credit off your dues. Also you will receive a special award patch for recruiting that you can put on your Pioneer Corps jacket. This includes helping out at extra workshops and recruiting booths. You will become an integral part of your Pioneer Corps’ goal of marching 150 extraordinary human beings.

Yes, we know that our recruiting goals will be a big challenge, but with the extra efforts of extraordinary people such as you, it will be possible to have a full D.C.I. World Class Corps! Tell your friends, ask around, keep your eyes and ears open and stick your hand out introducing yourself! Tell them about travel and performance opportunities and they will be together with many outstanding human beings like them.


Naperville, Illinois
February 24th, 2018

Pioneer will be manning a recruiting booth for this event. Corps Members can do a lot just by being present at the booth, speaking to Potential recruits. Show your pride in you corps by marking down the above date on your calendar or planner. The corps will take care of your admission and lunch costs. “The togetherness and friendship you share” will be priceless!


We have been informed about the passing of Mr. Dale Johnson, the founder and director of the former St. Matthias Corps in Milwaukee. He was also the chairman of the Badgerland Association in the 1960’s his leadership and vision were well respected. It was a time when Milwaukee has 12 Corps alone, 8 Corps in the Racine area, and close to 50 corps in the State of Wisconsin. Dale was Mr. Drum Corps of the time. Afterwards the corps disbanded and his sons, Jay Johnson (#461) and Mark Johnson (#608) marched in the Pioneer. Dale Johnson also recorded many corps shows and preserved a lot of memories for Corps people of that era. The Corps activity has lost a giant contributor.

ONCE AGAIN, We hope that you enjoy the upcoming holiday season! We hope that you make every effort to bring others with you to the January Camp. We also hope that if you are going to the Indianapolis Workshop at Butler University that you bring some friends with you! Work each day with your instrument or equipment so that when you get to camp or workshop, you will be ready!


Roman Blenski
Pioneer Corps Director

class moment

“Class Moment” in the performance of
“Irish On Broadway
Connor Wigart #2632 and Erin O’Callighan #2639


rob steinWe are pleased to introduce you to our new brass arranger for the 2018 Season: Mr. Rob Stein!

Rob is an experienced writer, designer, adjudicator, educator and performer. Over 200 marching bands and drum corps across 40 states have used Rob's original compositions and arrangements, including The Baltimore's Marching Ravens, the largest music organization associated with the NFL.

As a marching member, Rob marched a total of eight years in DCI, six with the Jersey Surf ('99-'04) as a soprano soloist and drum major, and two years with the Concord Blue Devils ('05-'06) on upper lead trumpet.

Rob works full time as a composer/arranger and is the owner of Standing ‘O’ Marching. Before transitioning to full time composing, Rob was an elementary and middle school band director for 10 years. Rob is a graduate of The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA, holding both a Master's degree in music education and a Bachelor's degree in trumpet performance with an emphasis in jazz studies.
Rob is also a competitive pro natural bodybuilder, and training/nutrition coach.
Rob currently lives with his incredibly supportive wife, Katie, and two adorable dogs, in Flemington, NJ. Rob is extremely excited and honored to join the Pioneer team for the 2018 season!

Our many sincere Thank-You’s go to Mr. Ben Chaffee who has arranged the Corps’ music for the 2016-2017 Seasons. We appreciated his time and talents given to Pioneer. The music brought to us abundant applauses from our fans. His work was completed always on schedule and was always available. We cannot thank him enough. His White Sabers placed 5th place at this year’s D.C.A. Championship Finals. Thank you, Ben, and Better Every Day!
To Kevin Kurtz #2377, one of our Pioneer Visual Staff. He has been hired as the band director at Par ston High School in Parkston, South Dakota. Besides the high school band, Kevin will be giving lessons to students in grades 4-6, middle school band, as well as pep band, all in addition to marching band. Kevin has been teaching Pioneer for the past 3 seasons and drove the Pioneer Camper. What makes his new teaching career special is that he now teaches at the same school that he graduated at.

Recruitment has been on a successful roll:
We recruited at the Wisconsin State Music Association’s Marching Band Championships in the rain. Thank you to Josh Pier, Roman Blenski, Sam Karafotis # 1799, Joey Tackett #2291, and Matthew Hornbuckle #2607. All eventually wound up recruiting in the UWWW Field House,

On October 25-28 we will have a booth at the Wisconsin State Music Conference in Madison, WI. Mapex/Jupiter Company is sharing this booth with us for all 3 days.

On November 4th in Detroit, Michigan we will be recruiting at their Michigan Competing Band Association’s 48 band Championship. If you can come and help your corps by please do!

When you have any questions, want to check on rumors, have suggestions, or want to check about official pioneer information, please feel free to call us at the Office (414) 327-2847 or on Corps Director Roman Blenski’s Cell Phone (414) 333-2235. We enjoy speaking with you at your convenience…..Our official Corps Email Address is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. When you email us, be sure to leave your telephone number for us to reply.

Now is a good time to earn your CDL (commercial) driver’s license. We are looking for some volunteers to drive next summer. We will train you, pay your fees, and guide you through the process. Whatever time that you could spare ( 1 weekend, 1 week, 1 moth, or whatever time you could spare would be very much appreciated!
You will need a
1. Valid Driver’s License
2. Pass a Written Test to drive a Bus, Truck, or Both
3. Pass a Road Test
4. Health Card from your Doctor
5. Pass a Drug Test from our Consortium
Pioneer will cover all of your expenses and the opportunity to be with extraordinary youthful human beings. Once you obtain your CDL license, it is yours! It might be a valuable tool for your future in becoming a teacher, bus driver or truck driver!
Fundraising continues. Any amount is appreciated. Donations are tax-deductible and you will be listed as an appreciated donor on a wall plaque at Pioneerland. Another similar camper will be purchased in the spring. It is a valuable tool, not only for the management team. Most importantly is that the trailer it pulls is used for the props to the field, not like the old days having the brass members carrying them. The 2 golf carts on the back of the trailer also are valuable tools. It has been noted that what job or errand can be done without a golf cart! J Maybe you should donate something!
On the agenda for the January DCI Rules Congress being held in January in Indianapolis, is the requiring of all teaching staff and some support staff to submit to a background check. Also on the agenda is the requirement that these background checks be retaken every 2 years. More information about this will be given by us (we are a voting member of D.C.I.) as soon as it becomes available.

Pioneer has plenty of exposure in the 2017 yearbook. Did you notice Guard Caption Head, JaMalh Wallace’s photo in the center of a circle of Pioneer’s full ½ page (29)? Our sponsor, Innovative Percussion (Page (106), John Schoenknecht #444 and Bill Nylund #159 receiving the DCI Volunteer of the Year Award (Page 140), Singers Jackie Hirn # 2428 & Gioncarlo Solerno and an unidentified guard lady (Pages 88-89). Thank you, DCI We appreciate the publicity.
We have heard from the director of the marching band, Maribel that our Pioneer members Shakira Sanchez #2652 and Mariana Rodriguez #2653 are alive and well as can be. To understand this, imagine your life without electricity and clean city water. Their school’s roof was blown off and the nearby river flooded the entire school. At this time communication is scarce because cell phone signals are almost non-existent.
During the “April Camp” we will be choosing backfield conductor(s). Among their obvious roles, will be to aid Drum Major, Jackie Hirn in assorted responsibilities. Members who are interested in being Section Leaders should contact their Caption Heads and Corps Director. Here is a chance to help and lead some extraordinary human beings from all over the world.

Please help us. We are looking for current information on the following Pioneer people.
Reward if found…You bet! RB

2378 Kimberly Amaya
Samantha Guerrero
2341 Jordan Lay
2568 Aaron Brown
2108 Theo Kaiser
2283 Matt Dupree
2281 LeKenneth Miller


K.C. KEELE #2613
His name is actually Kane but all call him K.C. He was our energetic spokesperson of the Front Ensemble, being in his first season (2017). His music career started as a saxophone player, and then switched to percussion for four years and is now in his second year of marching band at Wheaton Warrenville South High School. His parents, Susan and Jeff, work as a stockbroker and a homemaker. They generously let KC use the 2014 Camry for school transportation. His goal in life is to become a Professor of Psychology. His favorite color, of course, is GREEN! His favorite contest was in Lisle, Illinois. His favorite song: “ON MY OWN” his favorite cultural day was St. Louis, and his favorite friends were his fellow front ensemble members, as well as Baritone Kane #2610, Alex Pederson #2631, Trumpet Abbi #2608 and Ariana Jue #2651.

Chloe played tuba in her second season of Pioneer. Her nickname, also “Chloe” has been playing brass instruments for 9 years (trumpet, euphonium, and tuba). She has been in marching band for 6 years. Today she attends the University of Memphis in her second year as a full time student. Her parents, Heather and Scott, are both employees of the Veterans Administration. Chloe’s carrier choice is to work in Physical Education. Her favorite color is Blue, her favorite song is “MASTER OF THE HOUSE” Her favorite contest was Evansville, Indiana, her favorite culture day was the Canoe Trip, She wishes to send special thanks to: Will Kraus #2529, Johannes #2641, Armando #2352, and Patrick Murphy #2624 Chloe plans on trying out for the Color Guard for the 2018 Season.

In an effort to increase our profit margin we have changed our games and increased the prize money. It is a risk, but we had the good fortune to take over all of the Saturdays we have been sharing with the VFW Post #18. If you can, come on Saturday nights. Bring your friends and either play or offer to help with the game operation. We are trying to move towards the profitability we had before the “State of Wisconsin Non Smoking in Public Buildings” laws. We now are surviving with about 70% less profit than before those laws took effect. Better Every Day means that we must try to succeed. Come on down!
 bingo bash


Dear Pioneer,

Recent events and the commitments towards my degree and personal life have given me pause on my commitment to being an instructor with the corps. Therefore, after much thought and discussion with other members of the staff, administration, and my own friends and family; I have reached the conclusion that it would be in the best interest of the corps and its past, present, and future members; that I officially resign as a member of the instructional staff.

This activity is about the betterment of the students, achieving excellence with others, and how to find that internal drive to be the best possible version of yourself. That was, and will always be, my hope for anyone who is involved with the marching arts, on any level.

Austin Melcher

Thank you Austin for all you have done to make Pioneer Better Every Day! You were a faithful member who came to us from the Capital Sound Corps. You also did a great job teaching our Bass Drum Section this past summer. Your positive cheerful attitude will always be remembered. We wish you nothing but the best for your future. RB



There is no experience better than reaching down and lifting people up.

Better Every Day!




HELP WANTED: Sam Karafotis #1799 and Josh Pier (Visual Caption Head) are in need of recruiting help on Saturday,October14th and Saturday, October 21st. They will have a booth at both the Wisconsin State Championship in Whitewater, and the Illinois State Championship in Normal and Champaign, Illinois. We will provide food, transportation “if needed,” and an opportunity to look for extraordinary human beings. Any member who can do all or some of the above will be appreciated. Our Corps will be Better Every Day for your efforts! Please call the office (414-327-2847) or Josh & Sam.


HELP APPRECIATED: A call was sent out by Josh for members’ input about show ideas for our 2018 Irish production. Many thanks to Austin Crawley #2627, Joey Tackett #2291, Alex Whitmore, Grace Allen #2441, Dane Aros #2634, Kane Romero #2610, Jess Neises #2514, Garet Williams #2528, and KC Keele #2613 for taking the time to offer ideas.


AGE-OUT PICNIC: For many years, age-outs of mostly Chicago area Corps have a picnic in Barrington Hills, IL from 11am-5pm. There are no fees. Everyone brings their own food, Roman Blenski brings his collection of bugles to display, and several ensembles play some standard music of past years. It is held annually at the end of September. Quite a few Pioneer photos were on display and more should come from Pioneer to join the other corps’ displays. Mark your calendars for next year. Applause to Mr. Paul (Paul J) Schneider (Pioneer Visual Instructor 1998-2001) who was a conductor for one of the groups. He in his youth, was drum major for the Americanos and Marquee Corps. He still has it! If you remember the parade in Appleton, WI, we were listed as the Americano corps with “Paul J” as the Drum Major?


CAMP FEE CLARIFICATION: Last year we had a pre-registration deal, a misprint in the newsletter, and dealing with Pay Pal. All of that created some confusion. So let’s clean it up:

Returning Vets = $60.00
New Member = $85.00

  • Paying with Cash or Check = you get written receipt & no additional charge
  • Paying with Credit Card = you pay an additional $3.00 service fee
  • Paying with Pay Pal:
    • $85.00 = with Pay Pal Fee, you will be charged: $88.07
    • $60.00 = with Pay Pal Fee, you will be charged: $62.34

Pioneer Fees are a Great Value, when you consider what other corps, bands, guards, drum lines, and athletic camps charge!

  • 2 Nights of Housing
  •  24 Hour Adult Supervision
  • 22 Hours Total of Individual and Group Instruction
  • 5 Great “All You Can Eat” Meals!
  • 2 Snacks And The World’s Greatest Brown Bag Lunch on Sunday
  • FREE Transportation To And From Milwaukee & Chicago Airports
  • Name Shirts
  • Expert Professional Instructor Specialists from All over The U.S.
  • One of the Largest Gatherings of High Achieving Students in one place at one time.
  • Veteran Discount is Earned by Your Expected Leadership and Experience that You Will Share With New Members


COSTS MONEY: It is hard to imagine the cost of seemingly minor items, like custom field paint that does not kill the grass or make the schools unhappy, even while using wide- nozzle sprays for yard lines, as well as colors also. The cost of the paint is $32-35.00 per case. We go through 40 plus cases a year! Imagine the cost of 2 small slides for a baritone’s valves 2 & 3, and 3 top valve caps = $392.00 all because these items were somehow missing from the instrument. Your help in preventing waste is appreciated!


2018 SEASON: DCI and Show Sponsors are working to have an official show schedule for 2018. What we do know so far is that our First Show for 2018 will be on June 23rd in Whitewater, WI (gorgeous stadium!). This show is hosted by the Madison Scouts. Our last show of the season (after Allentown and before the DCI Quarterfinals) will be tentatively held in Pittsburgh, PA on August 5th. It looks like we will have 25 shows in all!


BANQUET MOVED! At the suggestion of our Program coordinator, Dave Campbell, our annual Awards Banquet will take place on Thursday evening of Championship Week instead of Monday. So yes, it will be after our prelim performance. Since this plus the DCI Group Picture that follows, it gives us enough time to shower and look sharp, It will be at the same location of Indianapolis’ famous Rathskeller along with its outstanding menu! We will celebrate the night away!

It will also benefit our parents and friends who can come for both the Prelims and Banquet. They can then stay over for the Semi-Finals. All of this they can do with a greater minimum of lost work days. There will be a will be $40.00 charge for the banquet ($41.76 with Pay Pal) and Reservations will be needed to reserve your table. It’s a great idea!!! Let’s try it.


REWARD FOR LOST SOULS’ INFORMATION: We are currently looking for and need information of the whereabouts (current address), telephone number, a working email, or job site of the following former Pioneer members:

2016 Aaron Brown Snare Drummer
2015 Jose Bernal Baritone
2015 Tia Thomas Guard
2014 Beethoven Arnett Snare
2014 Alexa Hughes Baritone
2014 Stann Williams Front Ensemble
2014 Shayla Nickles Percussion



KANE ROMERO #2610: Kane was a first year baritone. She played previously with the Appalachian Sound, a Sound Sport unit. She also has six years of music divided between flute, saxophone, and baritone. She attends Georgia Southern University as a full-time student majoring in music education. She stays with her grandparents, Dirk and Glenda Kinkel who are employed by Wells Fargo and the Mapleton Police Department. Kane’s favorite color is GREEN. Last summer her favorite Pioneer song was “Master of the House”, her favorite cultural day site was the St. Louis Arch. Her special thanks goes to her awesome seat partner Mike Shannon #2647, and her excellent Section Leader, Jacob Pike #2433…. Kane is considering playing tuba in 2018???

Roman Blenski

News From the Top

Powerful, dramatic, emotional 2017 show, “Irish on Broadway”, the music of Les Miserables that drew a rousing applause and many standing ovations at the conclusion of the show…..Beautiful Memories!

2018 CAMP DATES……listed below are in addition to several one day workshops in several cities. Video auditions are still available for a $50.00 service fee!

2017 group photo


2018 Rehearsal Camp Weekends
January 12-13-14
March 9- 10-11
April 27-28-29
May 25-26-27

2018 1 Day Workshops!
Watch our website: to find out about 1 day, 9am-5pm Workshops in Your Area!


Do you enjoy performing in front of large audiences?
Do you enjoy working hard to become a better performer?
Do you enjoy being in a group where you are accepted for who you are?
Do you like the idea of having friends from all over the world?
Do you like playing in a group who all want to become the best?
Would you like to be trained by a professional in your area of music or movement?
Do you enjoy traveling and seeing different parts of the United States?
Do you want to be challenged to become the best that you can be?
Do you want to come back to your band and help it become even better?
Do you want to be, “Better Every Day!”?

If your answer is YES to these questions, we would like to have you come and audition for your spot in the Pioneer Corps!

We are currently looking for young people, 15-21 years of age (22 if your birthday is after June 1st)

BRASS: Trumpet, Mellophone, French Horn, Trombone, Baritone, Tuba
PERCUSSION: Snare, Tenors, Bass, Cymbals, Keyboard Mallets, Tympani, etc.
COLOR GUARD: Flags, Rifles, Sabers, Dancers, etc.
MORE INFORMATION: Contact us at: 414-327-2847 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or


We welcome Mr. Andy Grindle who has been chosen as our 2018 Pioneer Brass Caption head. Mr. Grindle is the Director of Bands at the Lake Shore Middle School of Jacksonville, Florida. He is also a trumpet performer for the Army National Guard Band. He is well aware, the Garry Owen March, our theme song, since he plays it quite often with his military band! Andy marched with and aged out from the Madison Scouts in 2011. He also has been a brass instructor with the Troopers Corps for 5 years. He replaces Randall Bennett who retired after 6 seasons with the corps. We will soon announce the brass team of instructors that Mr. Grindle will bring on board with him.


Jeff Leyk Trucking of Burtrum, MN has donated a 2006 Carrier refrigeration unit for our food truck. It will replace our 1977 unit that stopped functioning in late July! Thanks to Heiser Truck and Trailer for their help in securing this for us!

Mrs. Kathryn Andrea (#112) of Andrea and Orendorff, Inc. has given a generous donation to Pioneer. It was timely, much appreciated, and used very quickly!


To the 350+ people who wished Corps Director Roman Blenski a “Happy Birthday!” Memories of people from D.C.M., D.C.I. II/III, Pioneer 1960,70,80,90, 2000, 10 were abundant and very humbling! “Better Every day” to all of you for your thoughtfulness.


Peter Handerhan (#2636) section leader and bass drummer recruited three members for the 2017 Season: Gloria Garner (#2626), Kane Romero (#2610), and Jordan Fields (#2646). We are looking to see the recruiting patches on his Pioneer jacket!

Dear Roman and the Pioneer Drum and Bugle Corps,

First of all I would like to thank you and Sue for over 50 years of friendship, including the years of the Imperials of St. Patrick, The Thunderbolts, The Thing, and Pioneer. Over the years, you and the Corps had many great shows, but this year has been special to me because the musical, “Les Miserables” is my all-time favorite. Thanks for your production and interpretation of this music. The spectators at Music on the March show in Dubuque are always excited when the Pioneer Corps is scheduled. Again, thanks for your friendship and don’t let the judges influence the thrill that the members give the audiences. Looking forward to seeing you and the corps in Indy.

Yours in Drum Corps,
Al Beckins
Colts Drum and Bugle Corps


First year member, Ariana Jue (#2651) who plays cymbals, came to us last year after 4 years of marching band experience that included front ensemble, bass drum, French horn, and oboe. She is now a senior at Georgia State and works at the Georgia Aquarium. Her career direction via biology is to a position with the aquarium. Her parents, Randy and Ilana are both into careers of computer programing. Ariana’s favorite color is orange. Her favorite contest was Allentown, her favorite culture day was in St. Louis at the “Arch.” Her favorite song was “Irish Eyes are Smiling”, the corps song. While appreciating everyone in Pioneer, a special tip of the hat goes to: Tanner, Zach, Cindy, Kevin, Joey, Kane, Mike, KC, Shane, Arwmond, and Jackie. “Special people make Special friends!”

Sienna Joyce (#2604) better known as “Canada” because she lives with her parents in Waterloo, Ontario. This is her first year in Pioneer. Previously she spent 5 seasons with the Preston Scout House Corps. She’s quite the musician with 12 years of piano experience. She’s a high school senior being homeschooled. Sienna works part time at the university pool as a life guard. At this point she has not chosen a career. Her parents are Jody and Chantalle. Her father is in the fire suppression business and her mother is a teacher. Sienna’s favorite color is turquoise, favorite Pioneer song was the opener, favorite show was at the San Antonio Alamo Dome, and her favorite cultural day was the Canoe Day. Her special friends, a “Tip of the Cap “goes to Lance, Jackie, Tyrell, and Javier. She’s a tall and very “Classy” young lady!



A “Honey-eyed” Moment
As 9 Year Old Claire Aaron
Wants to be a Pioneer
At the
Dothan, Alabama Competition!




These people in the list below put their talents forward against the best talents of the D.C.I. World. They put in the extra time to prepare and take advantage of the skill private instructors, band directors, and their friends helped them develop within them. In their future careers their personnel records show them personally competing solo, speaks a lot about the character of themselves. The corps also benefits from having the judging world and fans see what outstanding talent exists within the Pioneer Corps. We are proud of the following people:

2017 solo ensemble results


It is not too early to start now by selecting a solo along with a plan to follow in preparation for the 2018 D.C.I. Solo and Ensemble Contest.


Interviews are being conducted for individuals interested in the position of Brass Caption Head for the 2018 Season. Other staff openings are also available. Those who might be interested call Roman Blenski (414-333-2235) or give a call to
Dave Campbell at (724-518-3200).


Recruiting for the 2018 Pioneer Season is beginning Now! The most important mention or suggestion is to have us march a full 150 member Corps…Our 90 member corps has a lot of limitations. Size does matter both to the judging community as well as the fans in the stands. You can become a huge help to your Pioneer Corps by sharing your personal positive experiences from being instructed, culture days, leadership opportunities, and being surrounded by extraordinary high achieving people from all over the world. Be a promoter, tell others, motivate
Them, and develop their interest!


Age-out Trumpet, Andrew Modisane # 2517, has returned to his homeland in Johannesburg, South Africa. He is a full time instructor for the Field Band. He started there as a 12 year old member and has been teaching the last two years. He lives alone in an apartment provided by the band. His career direction is to become an electrical engineer, attending Northwest University, while teaching full time. He has a younger brother and one older who lives with his parents Daniel and Cecilia Modisane. His favorite culture day activity was “Canoe Day”. His favorite Pioneer Corps song was “One Day More.”He feels that his best show was in Michigan City. A special thank you to the drivers who were special to him, “La Mont and Calvin.” Members who were special to him included: Connor, Austin, Melissa, Tiffany, and the entire “Team Japan.”

“Andy” was chosen Pioneer “Best Trumpet” on the strength of the teaching staff’s notes about attitude and ability. Many have also noted his almost perfect posture throughout his field performances.

Mellophone, Johannes Motlhabane # 2641 returns home to march again with the Alexander Field Band in South Africa, He also helps instruct the group that he has been since he was 10 years old! His plans are to return to march with us in 2018’s Pioneer Corps!

He lives in Johannesburg with his mother, Gladys, and his 3 older sisters. His career choice is to become an actor. During the summer his favorite culture day was Canoe Day and his best personal performance was at the DCI Championships in Indianapolis. His favorite Pioneer Corps song was “On My Own” Being the runner-up as Rookie of the Year was well earned with his hustle and having the skill of P.W.N.T. That skill was very evident and incredible for being a first year members.
Johannes extends thanks to Calvin our truck driver and Pioneer members: Armond, Cloe, and Ally for going above and beyond being a special friend…
See ya next summer! Johannes


Thanks to all of those listed below (alumni, boosters, former Pioneer Staff, personal friends, current members, and people who I regretfully do not recognize. Regardless of the amount, it was your intensions and desire to be of help that leaves me so grateful. “Love you all!”


The corps had a great rehearsal day, late evening supper, clean-up and then the fleet left the school’s parking lot. The usual order for the fleet traveling was the equipment truck first, then the camper/trailer, the four buses, and finally the food truck. The school was located on top of a high hill in Dubuque.

We headed out on the usual route which entailed a long, high hill with a stop sign at the bottom of the hill. The problem was that there were several neighbors’ cars parked on the corners that we needed to turn on. Several of us pounded on house doors, and admit with the idling of 6 diesel vehicles, none of the neighbors answered.

Using our usual GPS, the lead truck rerouted going through a few neighborhoods on narrow roads that lead us to a very steep downward hill. We recognized the hill’s steepness and we radioed to each other, to proceed “one vehicle at a time.” The equipment truck made it. The camper/trailer was next to go. The driver, Mrs. Carol Hellman and Roman Blenski were sitting in front. All of a sudden Carol exclaimed, “My brakes are not holding.” The emergency brakes had no effect. I radioed the buses, “Don’t come!” and we slammed into about a four foot stone wall. The camper went up and over the wall, but it came to an abrupt dead stop before an enormous descent down the cliff into some huge trees. The reason the camper hung up from not going over the cliff was because it was towing a trailer with the two golf carts that got held up by the huge rocks on the stone wall.

Mrs. Hellman and I were thrown against the windshield, but not hurt. Neighbors came with ladders to help us out and up the hill.

In the meantime two tow trucks and a crane were called to lift the camper up off the side of the hill. The police re-routed the rest of the corps. The tow truck drivers disconnected the drive shaft, drained the propane tank, and the full 50 gallon tank of fuel. As the tow trucks held the camper, the trailer with two golf carts was disconnected and the crane pulled up the vehicle off the side of the hill. It was very painful to hear and observe as the crunching sound of metal and plastic breaking up was taking place.

Some kind neighbors from Dubuque offered the use of their bathrooms and gave Carol and I a plate of tuna sandwiches and chips! This for sure was a memorable evening full of “challenges!”

My wife, Sue, brought our family’s Suburban, driving up all the way from Milwaukee, and we continued the tour, now running the corps and ourselves out of boxes, now in a much smaller, but comfortable vehicle.

Thankfully between your generous donations and insurance, we will be allowed to get a replacement vehicle for next summer. So now you know the rest of the story.

Humbly, but Better Every Day!.....Let’s keep in touch!
Roman Blenski

PS: If I forgot to list your donation or member number, please let men know!

If you would like to donate, your name will be added to this list. Once we purchase another camper, all names will be engraved on a plaques for display at Pioneerland.

Donor Name Member Number
David M.
Wieske, Jr.













2017 group photo

Some of the hardest working extraordinary human beings that the Pioneer Corps has ever had, ended the season on Sunday. All of the buses and trucks are back, members drove or have flown home except for about 15 who are hanging out at Pioneerland, not wanting to end it all yet.

Our victories came in the face of taking on challenges and solving them. Even though we had a smaller corps than the past average of about 94 members, we put on quite a production that so many fans in the stands were excited about. Your staff did a wonderful job of helping to make that excitement happen. During each show we experienced several rousing applauds and very often the shows ended with a standing ovation!

The judging system was not very generous to us, basing their stingy scores on individual performance issues. It is very hard to believe that with the enthusiasm and applauses ringing in our ears from literally thousands of people who eagerly watched our production, that our scores and improvements from show to show were not recognized or given credit from the judges.

Listed here are the awards that were given at the Pioneer Banquet on Monday night. A unit full of highly talented that our 56 year system was strained to acknowledge so many.

Our soloists were outstanding, led by our “star” Jackie Hirn. Her beautiful voice and characterization was the high point of our show all season. All Pioneer hearts stopped and eyes teared up as her microphone malfunctioned in the Quarterfinals. It was hard for the corps and for her too. Besides being an outstanding drum major and corps leader, she WON DCI’s Top Individual Vocalist award, outscoring others for the 3rd consecutive year at their solo-ensemble (I&E) contest. Jackie sang her song beautifully, confidently, and stellar! Her personal characteristics added a lot to the show. She also organized the Pioneer Choir which placed third.

Our trombone soloist, Jacob Pike, aged out after three seasons. His personal characteristics added a lot to the show, besides receiving the Section Award and being the winner of the Veteran of the Year Award. He was always, and I mean always the last and the first to the equipment truck. He will be missed!

DCI winners of the I&E Auxiliary Awards (flags, sabers, rifles) was a star, who with his outstanding skills was often hard to see in front of the corps, but definitely was a crowd-pleaser, and now the recipient of the Guard Award, Austin Crawley. He was the happiest man in Pioneer.

Joey Tackett, our 5 year vet (tuba for 4 years & drum major for this season), received the DCI Scholarship Award for his contributions to many outside activities, an imposing leader and future band director that will excel for his students. Thank you, Joey!

So many others…talented Flugel Horn Soloist, Andrew “VK” Pearson, produced a beautiful tone quality that filled the stadiums with awe from fellow brass players…Zak, a veteran leader for the percussion… Shane, veteran leader of the front ensemble and “Waffle King!”…T.J., Gloria, Cloe, and our South African baritone, Johannes, running away with the Rookie of the Year award, section leader award, and unanimously the Bus General with the cleanest in the fleet…Armond with 4 years the trumpet rock from Texas. Notice our “Gear Department” on the road with many, many, great new designs. Mr. Jeff Williams put the Corps’ name out there….Props, or focal points that every corps must now have, giving credit to chairman Josh Pier and Ja’Malh Wallace, as well as kudos to art designs by Jackie Bilder and John Schoenknecht. The construction of our props was done by Dr. and Mrs. Knepp, the grandparents of Garet Williams. Wind, tornados, or hurricanes, would never blow down these well-constructed props. Thank you!

Rumor has it that our brass caption head, Randall Bennett, might step down after 6 years. He was an awesome recruiter, a steady leader, a person who noticed everything (P.W.N.T.) and led the brass section with his whole heart and soul. He was voted twice as staff member of the year. He will be missed. He says that he needs to move on with his career now that he has graduated. We look forward to hearing what “lucky” band has the good fortune of hiring him…Randall you are among the best ever!

While the applause of the crowd still rings in my ears, I cannot say enough about everyone involved. We all worked endless hours to achieve excellence. A few dropped off along the way, but were quickly covered by truly magnificent other individuals.

Thanking you a hundred times would not be enough, but cherish the memories that we created, the challenges we took on, and the masses of people that bonded together for 80 days. We were Better Every Day, Just ask us! RB


We celebrate our successes and encourage those successes throughout the Corps, especially at our Annual Awards Banquet held on the last week of our tour in Indianapolis, Indiana.

The following people, voted by everyone concerned, were the best of our

Extraordinary Human Beings” living the Pioneer Motto,



  • Veteran of the Year      JACOB PIKE      Baritone      Arlington Heights, Illinois

    • Runner Up      Joey Tackett      Tuba      Milwaukee, Wisconsin

    • Runner Up      Katy Jansen      Guard      Cincinnati, Ohio

  • Rookie of the Year      JOHANNES MOTLHABANE      Mellophone      South Africa

    • Runner Up      Gloria Garner      Tenor      Fredericksburg, Virginia

    • Runner Up      Austin Crawley      Guard      Indianapolis, Indiana

  • Best Instructor      BILL McCLENDON      Brass       Jacksonville, Florida

    • Runner Up      Josh Pier      Visual       De Forest, Wisconsin

    • Runner Up      Javier Ramirez      Tenor      Indianapolis, Indiana

  • Best Support Staff      TANYA BARE      Food Department      Sauk Prairie, Wisconsin

    • Runner Up      Charity Brook      Bus Driver      Cudahy, Wisconsin

    • Runner Up      Jerry Culbertson      Food Department      Columbia City, Indiana

  • Most Appreciated      JERRY CULBERTSON      Food Service      Columbia City, Indiana

  • Best Trumpet      ANDREW MODISANE      Trumpet      South Africa

  • Best Mellophone      JOHANNES MOTLHABANE      Mellophone      South Africa

  • Best Baritone      JACOB PIKE      Baritone       Arlington Heights, Illinois

  • Best Tuba      SAM KEARNS      Tuba      Champaign, Illinois

  • Best Snare      CHIAKI MATSUDA      Snare      Amagasaki Hyogo Japan

  • Best Tenor      GLORIA GARNER      Tenor      Fredericksburg, Virginia

  • Best Bass      PETER HANDERHAN      Bass      Bel Air, Maryland

  • Best Cymbals      J.D. MESGER      Cymbals      Gotham, Wisconsin

  • Best Front Ensemble       TIFFANY WANG      Front Ensemble      Downers Grove, Illinois

  • Best Flag      ASHLYN JONES      Flag      Pilot Mountain North Carolina

  • Best Weapon      AUSTIN CRAWLEY      Weapons      Indianapolis, Indiana

  • Best Dressed Male COLIN SCHAKELFORD     Trumpet      San Antonio, Texas

  • 2nd Place      Austin Crawley     Guard      Indianapolis, Indiana

  • 3rd Place      Ernie Vera      Guard Instructor      Walnut, California

  • Best Dressed Female      MEGAN WEAVER      Guard Kenosha, Wisconsin

  • 2nd Place      Ashlyn Jones      Guard      Pilot Mountain, North Carolina

  • 3rd Place      Katy Jansen      Guard      Cincinnati, Ohio

  • Zildian Award      ARIANNA JUE      Cymbals      Cumming, Georgia

  • Perfect Attendance      ARMOND RIGGS Trumpet      Wadsworth, Ohio

  • Perfect Attendance      SAM KEARNS      Tuba      Champaign, Illinois

  • Perfect Attendance      SIENNA JOYCE      Tenors      Waterloo, Ontario Canada

  • Perfect Attendance      CONNOR WIGART      Trumpet  Derby, Kansas

  • Perfect Attendance      ANGELICA BARE      Guard      Sauk Prairie, Wisconsin

  • Perfect Attendance      JESSICA NEISES      Mellophone      Wichita, Kansas

  • Perfect Attendance      CRYSTAL HARGRAVE      Mellophone      Sabina, Ohio

  • Perfect Attendance      JACKIE HIRN      Drum Major      Urbana, Illinois

  • Perfect Attendance      ALLY FARRAND      Guard Sargent      Germantown, Wisconsin

  • Perfect Attendance      JACOB PIKE      Baritone      Arlington Heights, Illinois

  • 2017 Age Out      CAROLINE RAMIREZ      1 Year      Guard      Sterling, Virginia

  • 2017 Age Out      CONNOR WIGART      1 Year      Trumpet      Derby, Kansas

  • 2017 Age Out      DAVID STENWALL      1 Year      Bass      Brookland, Arkansas

  • 2017 Age Out      MASATO HIRATA      1 Year      Bass      Oita, Japan

  • 2017 Age Out      ZACH HEWITT      2 Years      Snare      Greenwich, New York

  • 2017 Age Out      ANDREW PEARSON      2 Years      Trumpet      Miami, Oklahoma

  • 2017 Age Out      LANCE REISETTER      2 Years      Trumpet      Ardmore, Oklahoma

  • 2017 Age Out      JESSICA NEISES      2 Years      Mellophone      Wichita, Kansas

  • 2017 Age Out      SAM KEARNS      2 Years      Tuba      Champaign, Illinois

  • 2017 Age Out      JACOB PIKE      3 Years      Baritone      Arlington Heights, Illinois

  • 2017 Age Out      ARMOND RIGGS      4 Years      Trumpet      Wadsworth, Ohio

  • 2017 Age Out      JOEY TACKETT      5 Years      Drum Major      Milwaukee, Wisconsin