Chops spends summer marching
With the return of summer's parade season, the patriotic sounds of John Philip Sousa are echoing and booming down main streets all over Minnesota. However, "Chops Inc.," a drum and bugle corps, prefers to march to the strains of "Lynyrd Skynyrd" ...
With the return of summer's parade season, the patriotic sounds of John Philip Sousa are echoing and booming down main streets all over Minnesota.
However, "Chops Inc.," a drum and bugle corps, prefers to march to the strains of "Lynyrd Skynyrd" and "The Who."
Founded in Rochester in 1991 and later relocated to Minneapolis, Chops Inc. is a youthful group of 57 traveling musicians comprised of a percussion line, brass group and color guard. In its ranks are nine members from Cottage Grove and St. Paul Park.
Although members range from high school students to college graduates, the group is open to musicians of any age.
Jamie Lichtenberg, 16, of St. Paul Park plays the mellophone in the Top Chops Brass Line. At Park High School, Jamie plays the saxophone in band and joined Chops at the urging of friends.
"It's all fun," she said. "It's great music, great people, marching and it's a blast."
Bob Lichtenberg, 18, Jamie's brother, is a graduate of Park High School. This is his second year in Chops playing the contrabass, an unusual tuba-like instrument. Bob joined Chops for the atmosphere and travel.
"You get a really good feeling after you're done with a performance," he said.
Kyle Hoffman, 18, Cottage Grove, has been involved since he was 15. He plays the top bass drum and said that Chops is a chance to play more difficult material than he played in high school. Kyle plans to stay involved with the group as long as he can.
"It's like a family," Hoffman said of his teammates. "We're close to everyone here."
With their Hawaiian shirts, straw hats, sunglasses and red Converse Chuck Taylor All Star shoes, Chops is easy to spot in a parade. For competitions, the group dons a traditional military-style uniform.
In early July, Chops performed in the Delano, Apple Valley, Stillwater, Lakeville and Robinsdale parades. After traveling to Kalamazoo, Mich., they will perform in St. Peter on July 17 and the Centerville and Pine City parades on Aug. 6.
Members pay $195 in yearly dues, which includes a summer of parades, competitions and weekly rehearsals. The group's final event of the season is the Drum Corps Associates national competition that will be held in Scranton, Pa. at the beginning of September.
Chops Inc., a nonprofit organization, is seeking new members. For upcoming performances, pictures and membership information, visit www.chopsinc.com .