The annual Holy Bass Reunion event raised $5,400 for The Cadets and brought together Holy Bass Alumni along with other generations of Cadets in celebration of the 85th Anniversary at DCI East on Saturday, Aug. 3 for a fantastic performance and fundraiser.
Holy Bass Organizers, led by Michael Giambra and Jerede Brown, have committed that this effort will continue year after year and that all Cadet alumni are invited to celebrate annually with the Holy Bass fraternity at the next annual reunion. YEA! will coordinate, on behalf of the Holy Bass Reunion effort, with the DCI Eastern Classic Committee to create a bedrock foundation for a growing centralized Cadets Alumni presence at the annual Eastern Classic event.
Legendary Cadet Performing Members
- John Vander Brink - aka “The Viking” - 37 years since last Cadet tour of duty - most senior performer in the group
- 1979, 1980, 1981 - bass five;
- 1982 - bass six
- Michael Giambra - aka “Mookie” - 32 years since last Cadet tour of duty - nickname given by Thom Hannum in 1983
- Lead organizer of this 2019 HB Alumni Performance Ensemble – provided resources and all equipment
- 1983 - bass four - DCI World Champion – undefeated regular season – 52 consecutive shows
- 1987 - bass five - DCI World Champion – High Percussion Award - “Perfect Score”
- John Corley - 30 years since last Cadet tour of duty
- The original pioneer of the Holy Bass playing technique that has evolved since 1989
- 1986 - bass five; 1987 - bass one - DCI World Champion – High Percussion Award - “Perfect Score”
- 1988, 1989 - bass two
- Jerede Brown - 28 years since last Cadet tour of duty
- Co-organizer, (dubbed “Secretary of State”), of the 2019 HB Alumni Performance Ensemble
- In-line Captain of this 2019 ensemble – lead role at every rehearsal
- 1987 - cymbal “K-line” - DCI World Champion – High Percussion Award - “Perfect Score”
- 1988, 1989 - bass one
- 1990, 1991 - bass two
- 1990 DCI World Champion – High Percussion Award
- Andy Warntz - 22 years since last Cadet tour of duty
- 1985, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, and beyond… was the Holy Bass “youth groupie”
- 1992 pit
- 1996, 1997 - bass one
- 2006 to current - the “heart and soul” of the annual Holy Bass Reunion, as well as, the entire fraternity
- John “Axl” Whitworth - 20 years since last Cadet tour of duty
- 1997 - bass five
- 1998 - bass two - DCI World Champion
- 1999 - bass three
- Nick Kline - 19 years since last Cadet tour of duty
- “MVP” of this 2019 HB Alumni Performance Ensemble providing rehearsal facility and equipment storage
- 1998 - bass three - DCI World Champion
- 2000 - bass two - DCI World Champion
- Neil DeLucca - 14 years since last tour of duty
- 2005 - bass five - DCI World Champion - High Percussion Award
- Chad Grundon – eight years since last Cadet tour of duty
- 2011 - bass five - DCI World Champion;
- 2012 - bass four
- 2013 - bass three - High Percussion Award
- Ethan Turner - one year since last Cadet tour of duty - affectionately nicknamed by this alumni ensemble as “Fresh Out”
- Possible guest “MC” for the performance - Ryan Brodhead – two years since his last Cadet tour of duty
- 2015, 2016, 2017 – bass five
- 2017 “Cadet of the Year”
Alumni Performance Selections
- Warmup #1 – legato splits, Warmup #2 – accent to tap
- Warmup #3 – triplet rolls, Warmup #4 – 16th note splits
- Street Time - 1989
- Elk’s Parade (81’) with “HB” transition into “Bobby Splits” (2008), ending with Elk’s “outro”
- Rocky Point Holiday 2003
- Tonight (West Side Story)1984 / 1990
- Plummet Attack (Les Miserables) 1989
- Bass feature to Gunfight 1996
- Liquid 2005
- Nitro 2008
- Hit section from Appalachian Spring 1987
Alumni Performance Ensemble Bass Spots
- Bass One alternates: Andy Warntz and Nick Kline
- Bass Two: Jerede Brown
- Bass Three alternates: Chad Grundon and John “Axl” Whitworth
- Bass Four: Michael Giambra “Mookie”
- Bass Five alternates: Neil DeLucca and Ethan Turner
- Bass Six: John Vander Brink “The Viking”
- Special “last-minute” addition - John Corley
Plummet Attack 1989- Jerede Brown will slide up to bass one and John Corley will “strap in” on bass two for this special reunion and bring back to life the magic that the two of these Holy Bass Cadet legends brought to the field of competition back in 1989.
Hit section from Appalachian Spring 1987 – John Corley will slide up to bass two and assume his natural spot from 1987, and Michael Giambra “Mookie” will slide down to a 30” bass 6 and break out his legendary “sledgehammer” from 1987 with John Vander Brink remaining on his 32” bass for a special, seven-bass drum version of this majestic piece of Cadet history. With Michael and John combining forces on the bottom end for these unison “cannon shots”, just about everybody within a mile radius of J. Birney Crum Stadium, will know that Holy Bass is in its Glory! Mookie, at the age of 53, already welted his bass drum heads on the very first attempted rehearsal run-through of Appalachian Spring. History repeats in many ways with this combination brought on by John Corley’s last-minute addition to the ensemble. We are grateful for the opportunity to share this nostalgia with everyone because this combination of Holy Bass legends will most likely never assemble again after August 3, 2019.
John Corley has already flown up to New Jersey, from Texas, for our July 21st rehearsal date, and his arrival was a beautiful experience for the entire ensemble. John Corley had not hit a bass drum head with a bass drum mallet in 30 years until this rehearsal. Similarly, both John Vander Brink and Michael Giambra had to “wipe the cob-webs off” after 37 and 32 years, respectively. John Vander Brink and Michael have been rehearsing with the ensemble for the last six months and gained their form back to a high standard, but John Corley brought his legendary form back to life within three hours of his first rehearsal. It was simply amazing to witness him make it through the entire Plummet Attack run-through at a very respectable level of performance within three hours of arrival. He will be doing the same again for our last rehearsal date of July 27th and then again for the big show day, August 3, 2019. That is what this Holy Bass brotherhood is all about, showing up!
Ensemble Critical Support Cast
Mark Holub – 35 years since last Cadet tour of duty as a bass tech
- 1982 bass tech
- 1983 bass tech
- 1984 bass tech – transitioned out as Steve Kieffer transitioned in
While the majority of this “All-Star” cast of talent in this 2019 Holy Bass Alumni Performance Ensemble have all successfully “teched” at various levels, including the DCI top-12 level at one time or another, this ensemble still needed a consistent and experienced set of eyes and ears aside from the actual performers in the ensemble. Our original intention was to invite both Steve Kieffer and Mark Holub to basically re-live 1984 all over again, and “co-tech”, but Steve is no longer in the “bass drum game” after his many, many years of dedication and support to the majority of the Holy Bass alumni group. Alternatively, Mark Holub did not hesitate to get involved once he received the call from Michael Giambra “Mookie”. We are grateful for Mark’s steadfast support throughout this endeavor!
Greg Banks – Nine years since last Cadet tour of duty
- 2009, 2010. 2011, 2012 – bass one
When one of our brothers could not keep his commitment to our rehearsals, and “Murphy’s law” descended upon us, and no alternates were able to step-up for one of the rehearsal dates. Greg Banks answered our desperate call for help, and he came in from afar to cover the vacated spot with no advance preparation. Greg was our “superman” that day, and he played the necessary beats while reading charts that he had never seen before, or hadn’t played in years. His performance was nearly flawless for the entire rehearsal. Greg was a clear and present reminder of just how talented and special our alumni group is. Thank You, Greg!
What it Took to Make This Alumni Performance Ensemble Actually Come To Life
Michael Giambra (“Mookie”), and Jerede Brown (“Secretary of State”) hopped on a call back in October 2018 to discuss the “buzz” that was circulating about the possibility of a Cadet Alumni Corps performance during the 2019 season to honor the 85th anniversary of The Cadets. Michael and Jerede agreed that any bass drum representation in any potential alumni Corps endeavor would have to rise to the standard that the Holy Bass is known for. With that in mind, Michael and Jerede agreed that the task of scheduling task-appropriate, full-day, eight-hour bass drum rehearsal dates, and consistently filling six bass drum spots for each rehearsal date was no easy task.
Regardless of the challenges, Michael Giambra committed to securing the necessary equipment to rehearse on a non-contingent basis. At the time we weren’t sure how the 85th anniversary Alumni Corps endeavor was going to progress, but we were determined to put the bass drum section together and get started on rehabilitation rehearsals as soon as possible. If the Alumni Corps endeavor didn’t materialize, the Holy Bass Alumni would still make a show on August 3, 2019. With that in mind, Michael moved forward and offered to purchase inventoried/used bass drums from YEA! and make a sizeable cash donation in the exchange. Unfortunately, YEA! was not in the position to sell off any used bass drums, so Michael then purchased a set of seven new Yamaha bass drums ranging in size from 20”, 22”, 24”, 26”, 28”, 30”, and 32”, along with harnesses and stands. This was accomplished with the assistance of Sean King at YEA! Sean utilized his channels with Yamaha to expedite Michael’s equipment purchase. We are grateful to Sean King for his assistance in this matter.
Jerede Brown started the recruiting effort, and at the sentimental request of Michael Giambra, made his first call to Andy Warntz, and then also at the request of Michael, made his second call to Nick Kline to see if Nick could commit and also provide Salem High School as a rehearsal/storage facility. Nick immediately demonstrated that he is a true champion, and without hesitation, made his commitment to perform, as well as, guaranteed the facilities. Alternatively, Andy took a few days to make his commitment because he already had his hands full with his commitment as an alternate bass tech for The Cadets' 2019 season, and additionally, his daughter, Cara, was then vying for a spot in The Cadet Pit, which would ultimately require an abundance of parental support from Andy during 2019. Moreover, Andy is an active parishioner with his local church, but after a few days of deliberation, Andy made his commitment to the Holy Bass Alumni Performance Group, and at that point, Michael and Jerede knew we were on our way to a very special endeavor.
Michael then reached out to John Vander Brink and procured John’s commitment instantaneously. Michael had always wished he had a chance to march on the field of competition in a bass line with John, as they almost did so when Michael joined the Cadet bass line in January of 1983. Back then, John had not yet resigned from the bass line, and for one weekend camp in January of 1983, Michael played bass four and John was on bass five, but ultimately John dropped out after that camp, and the powerful duo never played together again. On August 3rd, the two will finally perform in front of an audience together after a 36-year delay.
Jerede continued his recruiting efforts as “secretary of state” in early November 2018, and continually reported available and/or committed alumni candidates to Michael Giambra on an on-going basis throughout November, December, and January 2019. This was necessary because when we accomplished our initial group of committed performers, Michael Giambra then embarked on the rehearsal scheduling process. Michael quickly discovered that trying to assemble everyone on 12 rehearsal dates over the next six months was virtually impossible. With the steadfast assistance of Jerede Brown, more Holy Bass alumni were recruited to provide an arsenal of players that could alternate on certain drums throughout the rehearsal schedule.
After many sleepless nights on Michael Giambra’s part and hours upon hours of phone conversations by and among Jerede and Michael with various Holy Bass alumni, a 12-date rehearsal schedule was finally accomplished and memorialized with solid commitments from each recruit.
This 2019 Holy Bass Alumni Performance Ensemble then embarked on a six-month rehearsal schedule that commenced on February 2, 2019, with the goal of accomplishing a minimum of 96 hours of group rehearsal before August 3, 2019. That goal is well on its way to being accomplished. We are trying our best to present the highest quality performance possible by a group including some performers that hadn’t played a bass drum in well over 30 years, and in some cases, hadn’t read a note of music in well over 30 years. At this juncture, we are confident that our performance will make our Holy Bass brothers, as well as, all Cadet Alumni extremely proud.
Participant Profiles Beyond Their Holy Bass Resumes
John Vander Brink
- John traveled from Hawthorne, NJ to each Holy Bass Alumni Ensemble rehearsal in Salem, NJ, and he never missed a rehearsal
- Current age - 55
- Married to Denise Decondo
- Has two daughters, Rebecca Vander Brink, Victoria Vander brink, and one son, Jimmie Decondo
- John Graduated from Hawthorne High School, and after his years with The Cadets, he served in the United States Air Force
- John currently owns and operates “J A Vander Brink LLC”, which offers “Grade A” kitchen and bathroom renovations
Michael Giambra aka “Mookie”
- Michael traveled from Stony Point, NY to each Holy Bass rehearsal in Salem, NJ, and he never missed a rehearsal
- Current age - 53
- Married to Guiomar Aviz Giambra
- Has one son, Frank Giambra, and one daughter, Anna Giambra
- Michael graduated from Bernard M. Baruch College, City University of New York, in 1989 with a Bachelor’s Degree of Business Administration with a major in Accountancy
- Made the Dean’s list at Baruch as well as the National Dean’ list
- Became a licensed Certified Public Accountant in the State of New York in 1991
- 2000 to 2004 - Chief Accounting Officer for a publicly-traded holding company (traded on NASDAQ), that controlled the largest NYC Local-3 electrical subcontracting firm, and one of the largest NYC mechanical subcontractors in the NYC high-rise construction industry with over 400 and 100 laborers, respectively, at that time
- 2006 to 2011 – Co-founding minority owner of Corporate Secretary, CFO, and managing member of one of the most successful and largest hoisting and scaffolding subcontractors in the history of the NYC high-rise construction industry. The company secured the hoisting contracts for the Freedom Tower project, as well as, the renovation of the tallest building in Canada, “One Canadian Place”, in addition to hundreds of other large scale construction projects. Co-navigated the company’s EBITDA to the north of $28 million per annum, and after a five-year trail with a debt-free operation, co-navigated a private equity sale of the company for a multiple of 6.25x EBITDA.
- 2013 to 2016 – Chief Financial Officer for one of the larger heavy civil contracting firms in New York State building bridges, tunnels, train stations, and airport facilities
- 2017 to 2018 – Signed on as an independent consultant to a foreign investment group that was attempting to purchase the assets of the oldest and largest tile and marble installation subcontractor in the history of the NYC high-rise construction industry with over 350 laborers. Ultimately assumed the lead role in securing the asset purchase financing, as well as, performing the legal and financial due diligence on behalf of the buyer group. Successfully closed the purchase transaction in January 2018.
- Most recently, in May 2019, took the Chief Financial Officer position with one of the larger commercial plumbing installation subcontractors in the NYC high-rise construction industry with over 225 employees and growing with more great events on the horizon.
- 2007 to 2010 - Served as a member of the board of directors for Youth Education in the Arts (YEA!)
- 2010 to current date- personally sponsored many marching members of The Cadets year after year
Jerede Brown aka “Secretary of State”
- Jerede traveled from Middletown, DE to each Holy Bass Alumni Ensemble rehearsal in Salem, NJ, and he never missed a rehearsal
- Current age – 47
- Married to Erika Thomas Brown
- Has one biological son, Tyler, and two step-sons, Kendrick, and Jayven
- Jerede graduated from Pace University in 1994 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration with a major in Business Management/Entrepreneurship
- Currently a medical device sales representative in the healthcare industry, and spends many hours in the “ER” alongside surgeons, as a technical advisor for certain products implanted during surgery
- Board member of the Brooklyn Steppers – NYC
- Volunteer instructor for Middletown High School Marching Band
- Volunteer instructor at The Cadets for many years
- Andy traveled from Red Lion, PA to his committed dates in Salem, NJ for the Holy Bass Alumni Ensemble rehearsal schedule
- Current age – 43
- Married to Deb Warntz (A Crossmen Alumna)
- Has two daughters, Cara and Ally; Cara is currently in the pit for her first year with the 2019 Cadets
- Andy graduated from Millersville University in 1999 with a Bachelor of Arts in Music Business
- Currently a Manager of Municipal Sales for Republic Services
- Andy has been a Marron & Gold Club Member since his aged out from the Cadets in 1997, and he supports all fundraising campaigns that The Cadets launch year after year, including the Power The Cadets campaign, as well as, the annual Holiday Campaign
- Andy has also been an instructor at The Cadets in 2008, and currently during 2019; he was also the bass tech at Cadets2 in 2016, 2017, and 2018.
John “Axl” Whitworth
- John traveled from Newark, DE to his committed dates in Salem, NJ for the Holy Bass Alumni Ensemble rehearsal schedule
- Current age – 42
- Not married, but currently in a relationship with Wendy Smith
- John and Wendy just brought their new-born son, Myles, into the Holy Bass world six months ago
- John graduated from the University of Delaware in 2000 with a Bachelor’s Degree of Fine Arts, and then went on to attain a paralegal certificate in 2015
- Currently a paralegal
- Nick traveled from Swedesboro, NJ to his committed dates in Salem, NJ for the Holy Bass Alumni Ensemble rehearsal schedule
- Current age – 40
- Married to Amy Kline
- Has two daughters, Makayla and Kelley
- Nick graduated from Westchester University in 2002 with a Bachelor of Science in Music Education
- Has been a high school music teacher for 16 years
- Currently entering his third hear as a music teacher at Salem City High School in Salem, NJ
- Nick is also a regional coordinator for the Music in the Parks/Festivals Of Music Company. He also runs all festivals for Music in the Parks that are connected to Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, NJ. Each season, roughly 13,000 participants (elementary, middle school, and high school ensembles) perform at various locations on Fridays and Saturdays from the last weekend of April through to the first weekend of June.
- Neil traveled from West Norriton, PA to his committed dates in Salem, NJ for the Holy Bass Alumni Ensemble rehearsal schedule
- Current age – 35
- Neil graduated from Temple University with a Bachelor of Science in Marketing
- Neil also has his Series-6, Series 7, and Series 63 Security Licenses, and is currently studying for the November 2019 exam to become a Certified Financial Planner
- Neil is currently a registered Representative at Vanguard in Malvern, PA
- Chad traveled from Hershey, PA to his committed dates in Salem, NJ for the Holy Bass Alumni Ensemble rehearsal schedule
- Current age – 28
- Married to Amanda Grundon
- Chad is just a few more days away from accomplishing his MBA in Management from Western University. His mission will be accomplished by the time we perform on August 3, 2019. We should congratulate him when we see him that day.
- Currently an annuity case manager for Crump Life Insurance Services
- Ethan traveled from Stewartsville, NJ to his committed dates in Salem, NJ for the Holy Bass Alumni Ensemble rehearsal schedule
- Current age – 22
- Ethan just recently graduated from Rutgers University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Human Resources and Labor Studies
- Currently a human resources generalist in the Leadership Development Program at Corning Incorporated.
- John flew in from Texas on July 20th to rehearse with this ensemble on July 21st, in Salem, NJ, and did a 24-hour turn-around back to Texas. He will be doing this type of turn-around for our next (and last) rehearsal on July 27th, and then again for our performance on August 3, 2019
- Current age – 51
- Married to Jenny Corley
- Has a son, Donovan Jerede (named after John’s dear friend, Jerede Brown), and a daughter, Ciara Estelle
- Attended William Patterson University and University of Michigan
- Was a self-employed business owner for 20+ years
- Currently an airline employee
- Ryan is a special “honorary” participant, that deserves appropriate representation
- Upon discovering that this Alumni Performance group was forming, Ryan demonstrated an enormous amount of enthusiasm and signed up with Jerede Brown way back in December 2018, but Ryan already had an enormously challenging schedule. Because this group has a great deal of respect for our brother, Ryan, we initially recruited sufficient alternate participants to ensure that Ryan could still be a part of this special performance with a minimal amount of rehearsal participation. Unfortunately, after our very first rehearsal on February 2, 2019, Ryan was unable to attend any more rehearsals and had to drop out of the performance ensemble due to unexpected job-related responsibilities that he had to place as a priority.
- Ryan traveled from Toms River, NJ to Salem, NJ for our February 2, 2019 rehearsal launch
- Current age – 23
- Ryan received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice, Sociology from Rutgers University
- Started his career as a private instigator six months ago with Prime Source Investigations
- Greg traveled from Elters, PA to make his commitment in Salem, NJ for his critical assistance to the Holy Bass Alumni Ensemble
- Current age – 28
- Graduated from Red Land High School in 2009, and then attended Harrisburg Community College
- Currently working at ABC Supply Company
- Was the bass tech at Cadets2 in 2013 and 2014
- Has taught many high school band programs in the central Pennsylvania region
- Most recently was the bass tech at United Percussion in 2019
- Mark traveled from Huntington, NY to each Holy Bass Alumni Ensemble rehearsal in Salem, NJ, and he only missed one of the rehearsals due to pre-planned vacation to Europe that was already set up before we began this endeavor.
- Current age – 66
- Married to Danette Holub
- Has three daughters, Traci Lynn, Keri Beth, and Christie Ann
- Graduated from Bay Shore High School and attended Brooklyn College
- Retired from the NYC Board of Education five years ago
- Currently teaching high school and marching band percussion
- Has been a percussion instructor for 47 years, and has been involved with the drum corps activity for 56 years
- Mark has assembled 17 World Championships, in total, while working with the Garfield Cadets, Hawthorne Caballeros, Sunrisers, and St. Ignatius All Girls Drum & Bugle Corps
Holy Bass FAQs
What is Holy Bass?
Holy Bass is the bass drum section from The Cadets Drum and Bugle Corps. The Cadets is a World Class competitive junior drum and bugle corps. Based in Allentown, Pennsylvania, The Cadets was one of the thirteen founding corps of Drum Corps International, is a ten-time DCI World Champion, and is the oldest continuously active junior drum and bugle corps in North America.
Why are the Holy Bass alumni so connected?
In 1984 Steve Kieffer began teaching the bass drum section of the Garfield Cadets. He went on to teach the section for 25 years through 2008. During that 25 years, a fraternity of sorts was built and the bass drum members that aged out of the corps continued to come back year after year to support the new members of the bass line. Because Steve Kieffer was a center point to the Holy Bass for 25 years that feeling of family and brotherhood is what defined Holy Bass. Despite the fact that he retired in 2008, the family feel and brotherhood continues today from alumni to current members/staff and current staff to current members the way Kieffer set the standard and example of for a quarter of a century. For that, we are all thankful!
When did The Cadets bass line start getting known as Holy Bass?
In 1994 Cory Gasaway and the other members of the 1994 bass line decided to call themselves Holy Bass as a nod to the origins of the corps which was called the Holy Name Cadets when it was founded in 1934. The name Holy Bass name stuck and is often shortened to just HB. It is now a name that everyone knows when they talk about The Cadets or even just bass drumming in general. A little known fact: Prior to it being officially called Holy Bass, it's been said that when the bass line would mess up in the mid-late 80's and early 90's, Steve Kieffer would yell "Holy Bass!?!" helping to keep his comments clean!
What is Holy Bass known for?
Holy Bass is known for a certain technique they play with and a very aggressive approach to the drum. They've always been known for great sound quality and very accurate open rhythms. Their tuning is distinct, the foam is on the outside of the heads, and you can hear every note they play any place you are sitting in the stadium. The Holy Bass also has a trademark visual that you see in most shows from 1989 to current. There are some years where it hasn't been done but most years you can see it somewhere in the show. The visual is where drums one, three and five lean back and drums two and four lean forward and down. The Holy Bass members and their staff have a special hype they do before every show. It's called the Chhrrrpow and when they are gathered in a circle they start one by one with Chrrrr (rolling their r's) till they all join in and crescendo with a loud "Pow" at the end. It's also very special when alumni are nearby and can join in on the Chhrrrpow!
Holy Bass Reunion
Every August, since 2006, at the DCI East Regional in Allentown Pennsylvania, the alumni of Holy Bass gather for a reunion. It's a way to celebrate our history, tell stories and laugh, but it's really an opportunity to show support to the current members and welcome them into the family. Each year for the reunion a new HB t-shirt is made which is why you will always see many alumni and fans walking around at Allentown in their HB shirts.