Changes in store for Blue Devils’ 2019 season

Just a month after finishing second at the DCI World Championships in both the World and Open classes, the Concord Blue Devils announced two major changes for the organization as it begins preparations for the 2019 drum corps season.

First, came an announcement with their friendly rivals, Santa Clara Vanguard, that the two powerhouse Bay Area corps, who have won 10 of the last 11 Open Class World Championships, will not be competing at the 2019 Worlds. Instead, both groups will restrict their B Corps season to California competitions.

Then last week, Blue Devils CEO Justin Heimbecker announced that he and his wife Kelly are moving back to the East Coast where they have lived most of their lives. Heimbecker joined the Blue Devils in early 2016 from Pennsylvania, replacing long-time CEO Dave Gibbs, who became a senior advisor.

Heimbecker posted on Facebook, “I’ll continue to work and support the BD organization remotely in a variety of ways. I’ll continue most immediately as the Western Bands Association executive director.

“I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to work so closely with and learn from David Gibbs over the past several years; it is clear why this organization is the very best in the world, and his leadership for the organization and activity are unparalleled.”

Blue Devils board president Rosa Lee Harden told the Pioneer last weekend, “We are deeply grateful to Dave for stepping back in [as CEO] to help us while we take some time to sort out the next iteration of leadership for our organization.”

Harden has been board president of the 18-time world champion Blue Devils for three years. Reflecting membership of the world-renowned Blue Devils A Corps, the board includes members from Southern California, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina (Harden) and Dubai, besides local members.

The Blue Devils B Corps (comprised mainly of high school age performers) has toured the US and competed at the World Championships annually since 2006, finishing first or second for the past 11 years. Prior to 2005, BDB were at the Open Class Worlds five times.

Last week, the local organization announced, “Each year BD Performing Arts evaluates all aspects of our organization in order to meet our standards of excellence and vision. The objectives of the Blue Devils B Corps are to provide a positive member experience, quality student education, a healthy and safe environment, and strong community involvement.

“In order to achieve these objectives, we have decided to travel and compete only in California for the 2019 season. This is a very difficult decision and we make it with much deliberation and careful thought.” Santa Clara issued a similar statement the same day. In 2018, Blue Devils B, including recent Clayton Valley Charter High School grads Steve Potter and Ethan Puckett, competed in late July and early August in Ohio, Michigan, Maryland and Iowa in preparation for Worlds in Indiana.