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Building the Green Machine - Praise

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Don Warren and Sixty Years with the World Champion Cavaliers Drum & Bugle Corps

Colt Foutz

Format: Hardcover, 480 pages
Price: $29.99
ISBN: 978-1932714-39-5
On Sale: December 2007

100+ photos, biblio., 6 X 9, dust jacket


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Building the Green Machine is available now!


Praise for Building the Green Machine

"Don Warren's legacy spans 60 years, from tough Chicago streets in the beginning to the bright lights of NFL stadiums across the country these days, with the brightest young musicians walking out of tunnels to the cheers of thousands of fans. And they all have the ‘Old Man’ to thank.

Colt Foutz has managed to capture that legacy with a gripping word picture that draws you in and won't let you go. No easy task, but Foutz has succeeded, and then some, by not only putting his skills as an investigative reporter to work, but also by thoroughly understanding that a story is best told by those who have been a part of a legacy that is all about tradition, brotherhood, respect, hard work and always striving for perfection.

Drum corps fan or not, this is a must read – for anyone who needs a little assurance that today’s generation is very promising, thanks to legends like Don Warren."

- Tom Montgomery,
editor, Cass City Chronicle, Cass City, Michigan

"As the ‘old man’ in the DCI Board room, I have a special recognition I think for what Don has provided to drum corps and to the Cavaliers. This book is a priceless reminder of what drum corps is about! Kids!!! Making the world a better place! And Excellence!!! Don did it all! Jeff (Fiedler) continues today and the Cavaliers, as we read, are just a remarkable organization.

The kids we see on the field today are a direct descendent of Mr. Warren, and the chance to read about his beginnings, about the beginnings of the Cavaliers and about what is true and real for that corps today … well, this is a book you just need to add to your collections. I love how he goes to camp, checks on the volunteers and still has a phone in the house that is dedicated to the corps.

Congrats to the Cavaliers for 60 years, and congratulations Don, for leaving the world a premier organization. You are a special man. You have left all of us who are involved in the activity a legacy to model, and well, with this book, we have the stories, the challenges, and the joy – to relive for years to come.”

- George J. Hopkins,
executive director, Cadets Drum & Bugle Corps, Youth Education in the Arts

"Colt Foutz masterfully presents the Cavaliers story through the eyes of the corps founder and Drum Corps International co-founder Don Warren. The drum corps activity has been blessed to have Mr. Warren give a large part of his life to the development of youth, and now he gives us the gift of documenting his experiences for generations to come. This is a must-have for anyone who calls drum corps their activity."

- Dan Acheson,
executive director, Drum Corps International

"Most of the stories from the ‘50s and ‘60s I had heard, the rest I had been present – some I wish he had forgotten! It's all there: the good, the bad, the hysterical. Boys would be boys and there is no better example of that in this book. The picture painted over time is one that is reflective of the change that has happened in our world – we'd never get away with some of this now! I'd be behind bars! But also the standards The Cavaliers achieved and how it influenced the rest of the activity. How we achieved our first dynasty, our more-than-decade-long slump and our resurgence. It gives the reader a look at where we've been as an organization, what we've learned and how bright the future is, knowing the experiences we've weathered."

- Jeff Fiedler,
director, The Cavaliers

"With a true storyteller's instinct, Colt Foutz chronicles every pounding beat and every soaring note of the Cavaliers’ amazing 60-year history. Building the Green Machine is a terrific read, equally engaging for Corps insiders as it is for the newly initiated. Colt Foutz covers it all. This is a thorough yet thoroughly enjoyable book."

- Sam Weller,
author, The Bradbury Chronicles: The Life of Ray Bradbury

"Building the Green Machine is an illuminating, informative, unique, and intimate look at one of DCI’s finest organizations. Author Colt Foutz creates a fast-paced, brilliantly descriptive literary dialogue that informs, entertains, and walks the reader through the daily realities and monumental history of The Cavaliers Drum & Bugle Corps. Building the Green Machine is a gem of drum corps literature."

- Jeremy “Spike” Van Wert,
author, Not for the Faint of Heart: My Journey to Manhood in the Santa Clara Vanguard

"Colt Foutz's book, Building the Green Machine, seamlessly weaves personal interviews, history, fact, traditions, and legend into a fitting tribute to one of the greatest DCI corps in existence. Alumni will be proud to have their story documented, and future members can learn where greatness came from. An absolute must for any true drum corps fan!"

- Courtney Brandt,
author, The Line

"Colt Foutz has written a wonderful book which has succeeded in spanning more than just the history and years of life in the Cavaliers Drum & Bugle Corps. Foutz takes the reader inside the heads and hearts of these dedicated members, leaders and followers. His writing is lyrical and engaging. This book is a must read for all ages."

- Gretchen Schlesinger,
author of middle-grade series Send Me the Soap

"Although the drum and bugle corps activity has changed over time, the lessons learned from enduring a national tour while striving to be the best has not. Building the Green Machine expertly encompasses The Cavaliers’ sixty-year legacy started by Don Warren. Colt Foutz has done an amazing job of illustrating every aspect of this amazing history on and off the football field."

- Gregory M. Kuzma,
author, On the field, from Denver, Colorado . . . The Blue Knights!

"A blind man once asked what the color red looked like and was told, ‘It's the sound of a blaring bugle.’ Colt Foutz's red-hot prose reverses this process. We hear the Cavaliers' bugles blaring, feel their drums thumping, see their intricate movements. And following their travels, we come to know the engaging power of the Corps' story, and readers will find themselves tapping a toe in time to the energetic music of Foutz's vivid, lively writing."

- Randall Albers,
Chair, Fiction Writing Department, Columbia College Chicago

"'Colt' – what a perfect name for a superbly talented author – documents the legendary history of the Cavaliers and Don Warren’s powerful legacy, but more impressively, has found and explained the essence that makes it the program that it is. It’s more than kids marching around a field playing bugles – it’s kids becoming amazing adults.

I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to march with the Cavaliers as a ‘rook-out’ back in the day. What I learned from my experience as an adequate soprano player from small town Iowa, and what I learned from Mr. Warren personally, were powerful life lessons that I use to this day. To this day, I consider Mr. Warren to be a mentor and his program to be an example of what is possible and what is required. I can unequivocally state that my one short summer with Mr. Warren’s corps launched my drum corps career, and it is still influencing me to this day, as I strive to create the same powerful life lessons for our kids as Mr. Warren and his ‘Green Machine’ created for me."

- Greg Orwoll,
executive director, Dubuque Colts Drum & Bugle Corps, and Cavaliers alumnus

"As one who has participated in the activity during all of Don’s drum corps years, I can attest to the accuracy of this history. Changes to the activity have been momentous over his 60 years. For old timers like me, it brings back memories… . The nostalgia is exceptionally enjoyable. For others not fortunate enough to have lived through or participated in the development of our activity as Don and I have had the privilege to do, it should be fascinating reading as the readers learn how our activity arrived where it is today.

A job well done. I heartily recommend this book to others interested in the drum and bugle corps activity!"

- Bill Howard,
former member, former director, and now business manager, Madison Scouts, 1948 – present; charter board member, Drum Corps International

"A wonderful drum corps history of one of our best corps. Once again, Don Warren weaves a great story!"

- Hugh Mahon,
charter member, DCI Hall of Fame; alumni and former director, Garfield Cadets

"Excellent reading of the foundation of the Cavies. . . . A wonderful portrayal."

- George Bonfiglio,
former director, 27th Lancers

"The fact that one individual has made a sixty-year commitment to anything, is remarkable. Don Warren's continued relationship with the ‘Green Machine’ is what legends are made of as they become organizational icons – he certainly qualifies!"

- David Kampschroer,
charter board member, The Combine and Drum Corps International; co-founder, Blue Stars Drum & Bugle Corps, and executive director 1968-81

"Thoroughly enjoyed (it). Very interesting read... . I learned a great deal about The Cavaliers, Don (Warren) and his ‘adventures.’"

- Steve Vickers,
publisher, Drum Corps World

"A great sampling of the corps' history, with the great stories the ‘Old Man’ has to tell. I didn't come along till the early ‘60s, and never really had a good grasp of the early years of the corps. . . . I want to congratulate Don, my second father, on a great telling of the history of our brotherhood."

- Bob Hoehn Jr.,
Cavaliers alumnus and manager, 1960-73; co-founder and first director, Spirit of Atlanta; founder, Drum Corps South

"The greatest drum & bugle corps throughout the history of the world has been The Chicago Cavaliers. When you speak of the Chicago Cavaliers you are speaking of an institution. There are great institutions that have impacted American history and great landmarks. Paris has the Eiffel tower, New York has the Statue of Liberty, Washington, D.C. has the Washington Monument, Arizona has the Grand Canyon, Egypt the great pyramids, and Chicago, a drum & bugle corps called the Chicago Cavaliers, a.k.a. the Green Machine.

Building the Green Machine, by Colt Foutz, takes you from the laying of the foundation during the late forties and early fifties to the establishment of one of the greatest dynasties in American history during the sixties, when the national champion Cavaliers were trendsetters and the recognized establishment for excellence. During that time they performed on the field like a perfect precision machine, with music chosen and arranged by Sal Ferrera, the drill instructed and arranged by Lenny Piekarski, the great drum lines, the uniform with the Kelly green satin shirt and big chrome buckle, the chemistry of the marching individuals and the staff that would catapult this institution into what is now called the DCI era and into the new millennium, and all under the leadership of Don Warren.

The laying of the foundation of a building or institution will determine its greatness and sustainability. Building the Green Machine brings out a lot of amazing insight and some interesting details about the laying of the foundation and the development of the Chicago Cavaliers as an institution by the man who made it all happen and who, himself, is an institution, Mr. Don Warren. The early years were most interesting, showing also how certain Cavalier trademarks came to be, and also there was some very interesting information on other drum corps in those historic early years that was fascinating reading.

The story of The Chicago Cavaliers, the story of Don Warren, his leadership, his wisdom, his vision, his interest in helping kids, his courage and persistency, his sacrifices and the sacrifices of his family are well presented by Colt Foutz."

- Elijah Mondy,
alumnus, Giles Yellow Jackets and Chicago Cavaliers; owner, KJIW-FM, Helena, Ark.; co-owner WJIW-FM, Greenville, Miss., and KCAT-AM, Pine Bluff, Ark

"When I joined The Cavaliers the guys who preceded me were my idols....legends who had conquered the drum corps world. Reading the story of the early years helped me to realize that these legends were just kids like myself with no idea that they were making history. The simple, kind leadership of Don Warren throughout the history of The Cavaliers still inspires me as much today as it did 40 years ago and even though the guys who become Cavaliers in the 2000's are typically older and come with loads of talent, their dedication to our brotherhood is the same as it ever was and, hopefully, will remain long into the future.

Colt Foutz's Building the Green Machine is a great testament to a history that I feel humble to have been a small part of and that I hope will interest anyone who enjoys an inspirational and engaging story of a bunch of Chicago neighborhood kids who done good. SPLOOIE!"

- Chris Hartowicz,
Cavaliers color guard, 1969-77

"Street Kids’ gives one a very eloquent yet down-to-earth perspective of the mindset of the original Cavaliers and how they formed the fraternal order which is today's corps. The many humorous tales tell the story of who, what and why the Cavaliers have become what they are – ‘We are the Cavaliers.’ I now know why it is said that The Cavaliers concentrate most on doing the best they can do each day and not on being first. In that way this corps of young men is always a winner. It is most pleasing to feel I have met through this book those individuals who have molded a group of ‘ruffians’ into an elite, musically-athletic ensemble."

- Craig Bales, M.D.,
Cavaliers Medical Group

"I have been a huge fan of the Cavaliers since the late sixties, and then a marching member in the seventies. I have known the Warrens for over 35 years, and even dated Don’s daughter, Jan, for a while in the mid-seventies. In all of that time and the hours spent together, I have heard many of the stories of the earlier years, but none as complete and with such detail as presented in this book. Colt Foutz does an outstanding job of creatively telling the story of Don’s life and his journey of turning what started as a group of street kids from Chicago into a world renowned, championship organization – The Cavaliers. He also explores how Don played a major role in shaping drum corps into the worldwide activity that it is today. This book not only gives a great inside look into the brotherhood, the dedication, the hard work, the fun and games, and the camaraderie that are the Cavaliers, but it also gives a great history of the drum corps activity as a whole. This book is not only a MUST for all Cavaliers, but would be a great read for anyone that claims to be a drum corps fan."

- Bob Nehmer,
Cavaliers member, 1972-77; President, Cavalier Alumni Association; Director, Classic Cavaliers

"I thought I knew my Cavalier history, but boy was I just skimming the surface! Colt Foutz's book gives the real story in such fantastic detail, without reading like an encyclopedia. Don Warren's passion for our youth activity is crystal clear with each turn of the page, and we finally have proper documentation of this great corps' historic legacy, from the beginning."

- Chris Lugo,
Cavaliers alumnus, 2002-05

"As I moved up the ladder to become national commander of the VFW, I had the opportunity to attend the Pageant of Drums competition, at our national conventions, to see these young people was awesome. I became an avid fan of the Green Machine. Not only because of being from Illinois, but the way they performed. Thanks to Don Warren and his staff, they taught these young people discipline, teamwork, and to accept defeat, often dignity, as well as victory with pride.

To me the most beautiful sight of the pageant was the finale, how colorful and filled with anticipation. I was so proud of this Green Machine and all of the performances I witnessed over the years – little did I know that Don Warren, whose leadership and dedication over these 60 years would become a dream come true for him to head the greatest drum corps ever.

On behalf of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, I would like to thank Don Warren for his 60 years of service to one of the greatest youth programs."

- Ray Soden,
past national commander, Veterans of Foreign Wars USA; and former Illinois state senator

"Building the Green Machine is a unique way to read the fascinating story of the creation and development of one of the world’s elite drum and bugle corps. The inside story of the Cavaliers is as riveting as a Cavalier performance.

It’s staggering to think that the Rosemont, Illinois’ Cavalier organization is turning 60 years old, and counting seven world championship titles in a field as competitive as any major sport.

Happy anniversary, happy birthday and congratulations are all appropriate greetings for the founder of Rosemont’s Cavaliers, Don Warren, how he’s celebrating his 80th birthday, and to his merry band of walking ambassadors for Rosemont."

- Bradley Stephens,
mayor, Village of Rosemont, Ill.

"A true story of one young man with inspiration, dedication and a ‘never-give-up’ attitude. Our four children are very proud of their dad as I am of Don. There were many sleepless nights over the last fifty years as I watched Don worry and wonder how he was going to keep the Cavaliers from closing their doors. Don was never a quitter, and after all, it was his corps, his idea to keep young men off the streets. Through determination, dedication and, I believe, divine intervention and the dedicated volunteers, the Green Machine keeps on marching. We were very fortunate to have found Colt Foutz. The writing is great – it’s very descriptive, it tells the whole story, it flows. It really tells everything about the almost sixty years – you can almost relive it!"

- Jan Warren,
wife of Cavaliers’ founder Don Warren, and “Mrs. President” to fifty years of Cavaliers


Colt Foutz

Colt Foutz won fifteen state and national awards for newspaper writing. He was president of his high school marching band and studied music composition at Carnegie Mellon University, where he earned a B.A. in creative writing. Read More...

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