Javier Astorga Jr. was in junior high when he saw a video of the Blue Devils. No organization has dominated drum and bugle corps competitions like the Blue Devils, who have earned 17 Drum Corps International titles since 1976.
“Seeing what they were doing caught my attention. I just wanted to be a part of it,” Astorga says.
It took him a couple of tries, but the Buchanan High School graduate is now the lead trumpet player for the highly touted band corps. He’s not only getting to play and march in front of audiences across the country, but the band is featured in the new Fuse TV series “Clash of the Corps,” produced by actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
The series launches at 11 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 5, on Fuse TV.
The reality series follows the Blue Devils, based in Concord, and The Cadets from Pennsylvania as they prepare for the showdown that will determine the top drum and bugle corps in the nation. The eight-part series focuses on the physical and mental demands put on musicians such as Astorga to live up to the high standards of their corps.
The local trumpet player was only a sophomore when he auditioned for the Blue Devils in 2013. The average age of those in the corps is 18-21, and he was only 15. Although Astorga didn’t get selected, he came very close.
He was unable to audition the next year because he didn’t have the money. But, in his senior year, Astorga tried out and was selected.
“Everything was much easier. I think it helped me a lot that I was older because I had more time to develop as a player,” Astorga says.
Local supporters of drum and bugle corps got to see Astorga and the Blue Devils this summer as they competed at the MidCal Champions Showcase at Washington Union High School. The local event was a thrill for Astorga because so many of his family members and friends came out to support him.
Having television cameras around to film the series was less comfortable for Astorga. He said he would just concentrate on what he was doing and ignore it “whenever a camera was shoved in our faces.”
Those cameras could end up being an additional blessing for Astorga. Once his marching days are over, the 19-year-old wants to keep working in the entertainment world. He’s not certain what that will be, but he knows it will be something that makes him happy.
Just playing the trumpet makes Astorga – a fan of Louis Armstrong, Freddie Hubbard and Wynton Marsalis – happy.
The demands of being part of any drum and bugle corps requires constant concentration.
“I am trying to hit insanely high notes while bending over backwards,” Astorga says. “Sometimes it gets humorous what they want us to do.
“It puts pressure on you, but this is a high-caliber situation, and they aren’t going to accept anything less. We set the standard for what drum corps should be. You have to be the best because there is such a legacy.”
Work and Mindy
Mindy Kaling has found out being canceled by a network isn’t always a bad thing. Fox shut down production of her “The Mindy Project” after three seasons, but Hulu kept it going. Now, the fifth season begins Tuesday, Oct. 4.
Kaling knew there would be a fifth season before starting Season 4 because Hulu immediately ordered two seasons. That meant she could concentrate on making the show and not worry if the network was going to order more.
“Plotting stories without knowing how long you’re going to be on … (makes it) a little bit hard to be creative. So when Hulu asked for 26, it was great knowing that in advance,” Kaling says.
Building on brand: The History cable channel has teamed with Texas-based restoration expert Brent Hull and his company, Hull Historical, in a new eight-episode series “Lone Star Restoration.” It debuts at 10 p.m. Monday, Oct. 3.
Not a myth: Kyle Hill has been selected as host of Science Channel’s “Mythbusters: The Search.”
The series will feature the next generation of contenders to be judged each week as they bust myths and vie for the win in becoming the next mythbusting superstars. The series debuts in 2017.