Creative Pathways to All Things Pageantry
About Todd Clevenger, Clevenger Design:
Serving as a designer, instructor, consultant and adjudicator, Todd Clevenger has been involved in the pageantry arts for more than thirty years. DCI, WGI, BOA and circuits across the country have seen finalist performances from groups with which Todd has worked. Well-versed in all facets of the activity, Todd is currently active in marching band, drum corps, winter guard, indoor percussion, and indoor winds.
A long list of respected programs have benefitted from the wealth of knowledge and student-centered approach that Todd brings to his teaching. Northmont High School in Ohio, Mililani H.S. (Hawaii), Las Vegas H.S. (Nevada), and Greenwood, Ben Davis, and Center Grove High Schools in Indiana are some of the programs Todd has enjoyed working with. For five years beginning in 2004, Todd was thrilled to be on the visual staff of the Glassmen Drum and Bugle Corps from Toledo, Ohio. In 2013 and 2014, Todd served as the visual caption head for the Blue Knights Drum and Bugle Corps from Denver, Colorado. Following this, in 2017 and 2018, he was the visual caption head for the Troopers Drum and Bugle Corps of Casper, Wyoming.
Todd also served three years as the visual caption head for Indianapolis Independent (I2) Percussion Ensemble from Indianapolis, Indiana, a program which was an Independent World Class finalist two of those three years. In addition to teaching indoor percussion groups each winter, Todd is an active adjudicator and announcer, working for circuits nationally. His voice may be recognizable as WGI Percussion World Championships frequently find him behind the microphone serving as one of the voices of the Sport of the Arts.
Todd holds a baccalaureate degree in education (B.S., History and Civics concentration) from Indiana State University. He and his wife, Michelle, live in Greenwood, Indiana where they are the proud parents of two feline children, Waldo and Nymphadora, and two happy fish, Foerdeche and Puddin’. A proud Hoosier by birth, Todd passionately follows his beloved state teams: the Indiana Hoosiers, Indianapolis Colts, and the Indiana Pacers. He also enjoys reading, cooking, and participating in competitive team trivia.
Mililani H.S. Trojans, The Circus of Dreams
Mansfield Summit H.S., The Black Rose , 2018
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Troopers Drum and Bugle Corps The New Road West, 2018:
Decatur Central H.S. Indoor Winds Fool’s Gold, 2018:
Mililani H.S. The Red String of Fate, 2017:
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Review: Knotty Pine on the Bayou, April 26, 2017
It’s located in Cold Spring, Kentucky and it’s off the beaten path. To be honest, it’s a little out of the way but the view is worth it. It’s sort of on the edge of a valley with a river at the bottom and there’s a beautiful view from the restaurant and from the car on the way there. This place is welcoming and homey. It has real live Cajun flavor. I heard about it from a local and regulars were there pulling on beers at the bar.
If locals like it…
I’m not local but I can tell you there is nothing I would have changed about Knotty Pine on the Bayou. You absolutely feel like you’re in New Orleans when you’re there and the service is five stars.
The food is fabulous. I enjoyed the alligator bites —taste like chicken — as an appetizer ($13.95, served with creole sauce). I then plowed through a side salad ($4.95) accompanied with a generous supply of bleu cheese. The coup de grace was probably the gumbo: the gumbo (cup $5.95, small bowl $8.95) was straight-from down-home and tasted like it came straight from the French Quarter. It was 100 percent down-home NOLA. I finished it off with a mouthwatering and perfectly-cooked steak, blackened just like Bourbon Street does it accompanied with country green beans. I did not have room for dessert.
I’m wanting to go there again; this place is worth being a destination restaurant if you’re within a couple hours drive. Besides the steak, they offer etouffee, red beans and rice, surf and turf, oysters bienville, frog legs, and crawfish boils. My wife has googled the menu (she does that) and swears she’s going there just for the appetizer of spinach and artichoke rangoons served with chili sauce ($9.95).
The whole place made me feel like I was in the French Quarter: the wire chairs, the cozy, small home feeling, the warped wooden floors. I love New Orleans and it was great to find a little bit of Cajun charm north of the Mason-Dixon Line. Every single detail at the Knotty Pine was taken care of. They even had Abita beer available (a New Orleans brewery!): I was drinking the Purple Haze, a raspberry beer, which was okay. When I switched to the Wrought Iron IPA I was much happier, though. The point, though, is that in Northern Kentucky, I was able to drink two New Orleans beers. (I could’ve done more, of course, but I’m a working man.)
Knotty Pine is great: it alone is a really good reason to visit the god-forsaken state of Kentucky. Even the chance of running into a UK fan couldn’t take the luster off this gem.
In the Air is Human but Where You Fly is Divine. Or Not. (The Worst and Best Airports in the U.S.), May 6, 2017
LaGuardia (Queens, New York): Terrible. Dank. There are no food choices. The people aren’t nice. LaGuardia is the most inhospitable place on the face of the planet as a whole. It smells. Everyone is rude. (2.3 out of 5 stars, Yelp)
Detroit (Michigan): Absolutely terrible. No matter where you get off a flight, you have to go to a different terminal to catch a connection. Horrible layout, no ambiance, and no edible food. None. Plus, trying to find a shuttle is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. (3.7 our of 5 stars, Yelp)
Kansas City (Missouri): It’s just awful— just nothing there. Absolutely nothing at this airport. You’ve got to walk for miles to find a bathroom. It isn’t clean. It’s a junior version of LaGuardia. (2.6 out of 5 stars, Yelp)
Los Angeles International/LAX (California): I hate LAX. This has to be the most inconvenient airport ever (always have to go back through security). And it’s the most expensive airport next to LaGuardia. A ten dollar teaspoon of chili is a damn bargain at LAX. (2.4 out of 5 stars, Yelp)
San Antonio (Texas): Terrible. There are always delays. There may be one (only one) restaurant in the entire freaking place. You can’t fly directly to this airport from any other, as far as I can tell. I have never, ever had a good experience at San Antonio International Airport. I love the city, hate the airport. (3.4 out of 5 stars, Yelp)
O’Hare (Chicago, Illinois): Enough said. (3 out of 5 stars, Yelp. Yelp is wrong. That should be zero. Zero stars for O’Hare.)
Atlanta (Gerogia): Atlanta and O’Hare are the two worst airports in the country, honestly. Nothing good has ever happened in either place: neither has good food and both are the definitive exemplars of inconvenience and nonsense. You can, at these places, get your 10,000 steps in: you’ll be running and unhappy but you will get your steps. (3.4 out of 5 stars, Yelp.)
McCarran (Las Vegas, Nevada): Everything is great here. Your bags arrive quickly. I’ve never been frustrated here: there are slot machines and smoking, if you care about that kind of thing. There is a total variety of food choices and there is easy transportation out and in. You never have to wait for anything. (3.3 stars out of 5, Yelp)
Denver (Colorado): Good food at a good value at this airport. I walked into a restaurant with a dusty old bottle of Pappy van Winkle. They didn’t know what they had. I drank Pappy van Winkle for three months for, basically, like, nothing. Also: there’s a Barbeque burrito at this airport, too, somewhere, that’s totally great eats. (3.5 out of 5 stars, Yelp)
Indianapolis International (Indiana): Bags come quickly and there are lots of food choices. It’s clean with solid wi-fi. There are multiple stations available to fill up your empty watere bottle. Easy in and easy out, parking-wise. (4.2 out of 5 stars, Yelp)
Phoenix Sky Harbor (Arizona): Free wi-fi. Lots of food choices. I’ve never, ever been delayed there. (3.2 stars of 5 on Yelp)
Honolulu (Hawaii): Everything is great about Honolulu. There’s tons of food. It’s in Hawaii. It smells great. Everyone is terribly friendly. Bags come quickly. Part of it’s outdoors with fountains and palm trees. (3 of 5 stars on Yelp)
Minneapolis (Minnesota): I like Minneapolis Airport. Best food choices of any airport I’ve ever been to. You can get to anywhere from there. Really friendly. Never had a terrible gate walk between flights. (3.8 out of 5 stars, Yelp)
Love Field (Dallas, Texas): This one has possibly the best food for any airport solely because of Dickey’s Barbecue Pit. (4.1 out of 5 stars, Yelp)
San Francisco International (California): I don’t mind SFO except this airport always has weather delays. On the plus side, SFO always has sourdough bread bowls filled with French onion soup, so SFO is alright. (3.8 out of 5 stars, Yelp)
Dallas-Fort Worth (Texas): I hate DFW but I did find a surprisingly good Irish pub there called Tigin’s (get the Shepherd’s Pie and a side salad with bleu cheese. Tell them I sent you). So that helps. (3.3 out of 5 stars on Yelp. For DFW, not Tigin’s which probably got a hundred.)
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Decatur Central H.S. Indoor Winds The Emerald Order, 2017
Decatur Central H.S. Winter Percussion Ensemble First Draft, 2017
The Last Rehearsal of the Season; The Hardest Day of the Year, April 19, 2017
The rehearsals for this season are finished. The shows and the kids are headed to WGI World Championships tomorrow…
I have to be honest. This is always one of the hardest days of the year. The months of preparation are over and all I can do is sit back and watch what happens. I’m not a parent but I always imagine this is what sending your child off to school for the first time feels like. You spend so much time planning and teaching and nurturing and advising and living and dying on every moment and then all of a sudden you no longer have control and they are off on their own. All I can think of right now is: have I done the right things? Have I made the correct choices? Will they be ok? Will all of the blood, sweat, tears, frustration and hard work be enough to allow them to reach for their dreams and feel like it is all worth it?
I never know. I can’t get those thoughts out of my head. I just want them to show the world how incredibly special they are. Every time this happens I feel like a little part of me walks out into the big harsh world and I obsess about my role in its preparation. I love it and I hate it equally. I am always proud of the intense effort and love that is behind all of it but I have to admit that a small part of me dies on the last count of every last run-through. It goes from what could be to what IS. I can never really wrap my head and heart around that fact. At the end of the day, I understand that I love the process infinitely more than I love the product. It is what, who and why I am. I can only look forward to the the next beginning and the next opportunity to touch lives, inspire dreams and produce magic.
No matter the result, I always feel incredibly blessed.
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Springfield, Missouri Airport, Bait and Tackle Shop, March 5, 2017
Here’s what happens when you get off the plane at the Springfield, Missouri airport at 7:30 on a Friday night. First, you don’t get to eat or drink because nothing is open (at 7:30 on a Friday night, mind you). Second: the airport is apparently owned by /sponsored by/or the birthplace of Bass Pro Shops. There are metal fish hanging from the ceiling. The middle part of the carpeting is blue; the edges brown: so you’re swimming/walking upstream or down, whatever, but you’re very definitely supposed to be in the middle of Nature.
And you’ll have to either hunt or fish your own dinner because nothing at the airport is open.
At 7:30 on a freaking Friday, not that I’m bitter.
At 7:30 on a Friday night, actually, when our plane pulled up at the gate, there were zero other planes. Which is weird, quite frankly. I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised the restaurants were closed. In fairness, by “restaurants,” I am referring here to one MacAllister’s and a coffee stand. But they were both closed.
It’s not like Friday’s a school night, you know what I’m saying here?
In retrospect, I’m relieved that I didn’t disembark the plane via rolling metal staircase (although I did have to do that in Charlotte, North Carolina this morning. I felt so glamorous. I waved, like the president. I’m sure some onlookers were confused because we do weigh the same even though I’m nine inches taller.)
It’s kind of funny because I’ve been working on an airport article to publish. (Clevenger Design aims to please, after all.) And, this weekend, I got to visit the First Baptist Bar and Grill, Airport, Bait and Tackle Shop in Springfield, Missouri.
I didn’t get to eat or drink anything when I was there, but I was there. In the fake river. With the metal fish. And it’s actually a pretty convenient airport (minus the food thing) with polite people working (but they’re not working at MacAllister’s).
Also, there’s a full size Bass boat just sitting in the terminal. I’ll get to see it again in four weeks. I’m thinking of packing a lunch bag. I might even sit in that boat.
(And just for the record, I love everyone involved with MCCGA. They’re wonderful hosts and wonderful, warm people. I am so grateful they let me work for them. So please don’t misunderstand my mirth about the Springfield airport as any sort of negative commentary about the wonderful folks in Missouri.)
You’re a Grand Old Bag, February 23, 2017
I’ve been hunting around lately for a new backpack. I don’t want to. I love the backpack I have. I’m kind of surprised I haven’t actually ever named it. Sure, I call it my field bag, but it’s my year-round companion. It’s My Bag. Rehearsals, meetings, contest days, wins and losses and teachable moments— this old Swiss Gear bag pretty much keeps the same batch of necessities in it always and, for twelve years, it’s been with me everywhere. Band and guard people can get pretty attached to their bags. After all, we live out of them most of the year. I’m no exception. And, to be honest here, if I could just magic this old trusty bag back to its original, not-falling-apart condition, well, I’d do it.
But things are what they are and this bag won’t make it through another summer, so I’ve been shopping for a replacement (this Swiss Gear is a similar option; Or this one.). It’s rough. I like my old faithful bag. It’s served as a footrest, yard marker, pillow, and as a gathering point for countless bands, drum corps, and winter guards. It’s traveled with me to 49 of the 50 states, including multiple trips across the Pacific to Hawaii. We’ve even been to Paris together (not to mention the UK, Belgium, non-Paris France, and Holland). That should be forever, right?
At any rate, the whole “need a new bag” thing got me thinking about how necessary these things are to the lives of band and guard geeks (I use the term lovingly, obviously) everywhere. I know this one feels to me more like an extension of my body than an accessory or tool. Like I said earlier, my so-called field bag is overstuffed year round with the same things. Like all pageantry peeps, I’ve got writing utensils, charging equipment, headphones, a notebook, and at least two kinds of tape (for me, that’s electrical and blue painter’s tape; I don’t know anyone in the activity who doesn’t carry electrical tape and a lot of them carry duct tape, too). Because I never switch out the contents of my bag (who’s got time for that????), all my outdoor stuff is there, too: sunscreen, DCT, bug spray. And to round things off, I’ve got the things that I just need even if I don’t technically “need” them all that often: the stray granola bar, my expired passport (hey, note to self, renew your passport), batteries, random medical things (aspirin, stomach stuff, prescriptions), the ever-present tin of Altoids (don’t leave home without it!), Jolly Ranchers. A roll of toilet paper (trust me on this. Hello, Paris). Change (Hello, vending machines). A flashlight, for reasons even I don’t quite understand. A gock block and carabiner clips. I suppose, since I’m disclosing my backpack contents, I’ll cop to it fully. I’ve usually got a super ball in there (toys are good! These bounce.); at least one hat; and, when flying, a book. Every one of these things has been man-handled, disheveled, poured out, and questioned by TSA agents all over the country. How do you really explain a gock block at the airport? At least I no longer carry drafting tools (a super-pointy compass and such) for writing drill. I don’t have to warn TSA they’ll get poked or that the contents of my most beloved field bag will draw blood. (Drill, sadly now, is all computers. I long for a simpler time when designers had to see it in their head and get it on the paper. But that’s another conversation.)
No wonder this excellent backpack is finally wearing out. It’s gone above and beyond, over and under, and there and back again. It’s been asked to hold a lot of things. It’s also been the solution to a lot of every issue: it’s in my bag, put it in my bag, I think it’s in my bag, it should be in my bag, damn it- it’s not in my bag. I originally got it for twenty bucks at Marshall’s. I’m guessing the twelve years of faithful service have been worth has been well worth the original investment twenty times over. To be honest, that original twenty dollar price tag has made it that much harder to replace: why pay $39 or $59 or $84 when a fat Andy Jackson at the strip mall Marshall’s has served me so well? I’m not cheap, mind you, but there just has to be a synergy to these things. I can barely fathom ordering something so personal over the interwebs. You have to be able to see it, feel it, and touch it. After all, it’s going to become another part of my (or your, if you also need a backpack) body. It’s kind of like having that perfect pet that, out of the entire litter, chooses you. (Like my beloved Waldo kitty. But, again, that’s yet another conversation.)
I talked to some of my fellow instructors and designers and a lot of them actually switch out the contents based on whether it’s for rehearsals mainly, or winter or marching seasons, or contest days. The earphones, charging equipment, medications, and notebook seem to be universally carried. Some of them insist on bringing toothbrush/paste and floss everywhere. Other experts insist on tools: a Swiss Army knife, a Gerber utility knife, wrenches and pliers. If it’s a contest day, we’re all pretty keyed up to make sure we have our show packet with us. And no matter what, we’ve all got our things unique to our sections: extra reeds, drum keys, spare show flags, hairpins, gloves, bolts. I asked one guy, who shall remain nameless, what he insisted on putting in his bag for contest days. He answered “tequila, heh heh.” He was kidding but I’m debating blackmailing him to his band booster organization or trolling him on Indiana Marching. (Okay, totally not, I’m kidding, too. But here’s the truth: instructors do NOT carry alcohol in their backpacks. I promise.)
Just for fun, I googled what kids carry in their contest and rehearsal bags. (It got me out of shopping for my replacement backpack, after all.) The kids carry a lot of the same things the adults do; the girls tend to have WAY more makeup; the boys could remember extra socks, if you ask me. And it’s kind of weird (and creative and wonderful) that these kids are taking the time to make YouTube videos regarding what they should and should not put in their backpacks for show and rehearsal days. You gotta love the kids.
So, I told you what’s in my bag. And once I make the impossible decision on the next bag, I’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, what are your pageantry essentials?
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Mililani H.S. The [U]n[I]verse Within Us, 2016
Mililani H.S. Pandora’s Box, 2015
Blue Knights Staff, 2014, That One Second
Blue Knights That One Second, 2014
Blue Knights No Beginning, No End, 2013
June 24, 2013: Fisherman’s Wharf to Alcatraz
It’s the life of a designer. You think you’ve got the perfect moment locked down— and then you notice the trash can in the view.
The virtues of a being a pageantry gypsy include seeing lots of things. This? Seen while standing on Fisherman’s Wharf in the mist of the Pacific while looking straight at the lights of Alcatraz.
I love my work.
Ben Davis H.S. Thin Line Between Love and Hate, 2012
Ben Davis H.S. The Tables Have Turned, 2011
Glassmen Drum and Bugle Corps The Journey of One, 2009
Glassmen Drum and Bugle Corps Kar-ne-vel, 2008
The Night Red Went to Jail
Turns out there’s Pacers Jail. I went there. Click to find out more.
Center Grove H.S. Capture the Flag, 2003
Indiana Class D State Champion, Sheridan H.S. 1995
Staff: North Montgomery H.S., Indiana, 1990-1991
1988: North Montgomery H.S. Chargers, Indiana
1981: Greenwood H.S., Greenwood, Indiana
Updated: 27 Dec 2018
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