Blue Knights-Bahrain Daily Blog Post (4.18.17)

Thoughts and feelings from Drum Major Ashley Drayer
Wow, all of the beautiful things we were able to see today!! We got to sleep in and enjoy the last shower for probably close to 48 hours. We made a trip into the Souk, which is an amazingly intricate Middle Eastern Market. Spices, clothes, art, food, toys, you name it, it was probably there somewhere!
Main streets turned to back alleys real quick, and everything turned into a crazy labyrinth before you knew it. The food was INCREDIBLE. We had a table that could have/should have sat up to 8 people….we sat 5, and filled the WHOLE thing up with food, fish, rice, curry, veggies, lettuce, tea, chicken, lamb…We decided the motto needed to be “just say yes”. We were very unsure what could have come out, but it definitely worked in our favor.
Next, we got to go to the Bahraini National Museum. For sure, the best 1BD or roughly $2.65 I could have ever spent. We had been curious as to a lot of general culture questions throughout our trip there that the museum actually did a really good job of explaining. From family life to clothing, religion, trading, economy, social structure, everything. It was an amazing chance to just be able to START understanding such a complex culture. The museum sat on the water as well, with some beautiful scenery, so of course, we had to go out and get some pictures taken by the water as well.
Next stop, the Lagoon. A very new development… condos in the making and a TON of restaurants of all varieties on the water. Our group chose a place called “Ali Baba” which was a mix of Middle Eastern flavors. A lot of us had done lunch together earlier and were still VERY full, so most of us opted for appetizers and a shake. This was a beautiful setting to spend with some of my travel companions on our last night in beautiful Bahrain.
The airport went surprisingly well. It was smooth, pretty seamless and went a lot faster than I anticipated, so thank goodness for that… However, that also means, not much to talk about there.
Next stop, Germany….ummmm…WOW! We got in at about 6:30 in the morning and were determined to fit as much sightseeing in as possible. Best decision I ever made. We got to the main train station and were out roaming around by 7 am. We stopped at a beautiful Cafe for coffee, another spot for breakfast, stopped again for a bratwurst. All the German things. The sights were mind-blowing. I had never been to Europe, so seeing all the buildings, trees, the river, the lock Bridge, was all just incredible. Definitely, a place I would be lucky to visit again. Public transportation was super easy, and we were never worried about the ability to be able to make it back to the airport.
Wandering around Germany was a great opportunity to tire ourselves out. So the flight was pretty unexciting, as I “slept” (as much as you can really sleep on a plane) and watched movies the whole way back to the states. We arrived late into Denver and had to go through multiple lines, for passports, customs, baggage…. all of the things. And just like that… we were done. We had gone so far and accomplished SO very much. We didn’t lose anyone, everyone arrived exhausted, but exhilarated. Clocked my longest Tuesday EVER at 33 hours.
And with that, I am now home. Yet to have unpacked a single thing, but the dogs are glued to my side, got to have dinner, story time and bedtime with my beautiful baby girl who I missed more than I could describe and who is now fast asleep upstairs. All that’s left is unpacking what I immediately need to shower and PASS OUT. I’m apparently a masochist who scheduled myself to open my store at 4 am tomorrow… so the rest of the unpacking and general life maintenance that I neglected to go on this whirlwind of a trip can wait until I get to it. So now…. time for the second most awaited part of a really, SERIOUSLY long day (after seeing my beautiful family of course), I’m going to enjoy what could possibly be the best shower of my life, curl up in MY bed and wish you all sweet dreams. Good Knight!

Be sure to check in each day of our Bahrain trip for Ashley’s insights as she leads this group of passionate performers to a place where no drum corps has gone before!!

∴ Read all blog updates here!


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Ken Adams


Mark Arnold is one of the longest-serving Directors in Drum Corps International, serving as Executive Director of the Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps since 1985 and as CEO of Ascend Performing Arts since 2010.

Under his leadership the Blue Knights organization has developed into one of the premier Drum and Bugle Corps in the history of the activity, recognized Internationally for excellence and innovation in the performing arts. Through the years the Blue Knights has expanded its programing and now serves thousands of young musicians and performers annually in multiple performing ensembles, events and educational programs under the umbrella of the Ascend Performing Arts.

In addition to shaping the course of Ascend Performing Arts, Mark also has played an integral role in the ongoing development and successes of Drum Corps International as a collective. He served as chairman of the DCI Board of Directors in 1994 and again from 2008 to 2013. Mark was honored as Corps Director of the Year in 2004, and was the inaugural recipient of the George Bonfiglio Chairman’s Award at the 2012 DCI World Championships, which is given to an individual each year who demonstrates extraordinary leadership and service on behalf of DCI and its performing drum corps.  Mark was inducted into the DCI Hall of Fame in 2014 and the Blue Knights Hall of Fame in 2019.

Prior to his position with the Blue Knights, Mark was the Assistant Director of the Troopers Drum and Bugle Corps from 1978 through 1983, serving alongside Director Jim Jones, one of the founders of Drum Corps International and an inaugural member of the DCI Hall of Fame.  Mr. Arnold has a degree in Music Education from the University of Wyoming and taught High School Music in Wyoming and Nebraska from 1979 through 1985.
Mark Arnold


Scott Factor has served on the Ascend Performing Arts Board from 2012 to 2018 as a voting member in various positions including Vice-Chairman. Since 2019 my role has been in an Advisory position.

Outside of Ascend Performing Arts i am Senior Account Executive for Baxter HealthCare.
Scott Factor


I am currently an Ascend Board Member-at-Large.  I have been a volunteer with the Blue Knights since 2013.  I have been serving on the BoD since 2019.  I retired from the United States Postal Service in 2010.  Although I have never marched drum corps I am an avid fan of the activity and thoroughly support our members in any way that I can.  “We Go On”!!! 

Neil Corvino


Board member Kathy Black is an attorney in New Mexico practicing as a full-time litigator focused on employment and civil rights defense. She came to the law as a second career after twenty-five years in high tech with NCR Corporation, doing everything from operating systems programming to Vice President positions in engineering, customer services, and sales. She earned her JD from Lewis & Clark Law School and her BA from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Ms. Black is active as a percussionist in the Albuquerque area. Way back in 1978 she marched with the Guardsmen, including at DCI Finals in Denver.  After many years of being just a drum corps fan, she was elected to the Drum Corps International Board of Directors in January 2016 and served on that board until January 2022, including three years as chair. 

Kathy Black


Bryant’s path to the Ascend Board of Directors, which began in 2021 as a member-at-large, traces back to his childhood. Watching the Reading Buccaneers senior drum corps practice near his grandparents’ home ignited a lifelong passion, and a student of all thing’s percussion.

Years later a family move to Colorado provided Bryant with a platform to display his passion, both on the stage with the nationally acclaimed Green Earth Percussion Ensemble and on the field as a snare drummer with the Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps until his age-out year in 1984.

In his professional career as the Senior Director of Strategic Accounts at Yokohama Tire Co., Bryant credits the principles instilled by the marching arts and years on tour for his success. On a personal level, the arts played an even larger role, where Bryant met his wife, Stephanie. The Rankin’s currently make their home in South Carolina, enjoying time with their grown children, two incredible grandchildren, and their beloved brown lab, Zoey.
Bryant Rankin


Retired, Director, Office of Research and Analysis, Colorado Department of Revenue Ms. Archibeque served 26 years in the area of statistical analysis for the Colorado Department of Revenue and Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. Her skills in this area assist the board in developing a strategy for statistical analysis in the area of program evaluation. She has also been a significant volunteer managing and working with volunteers for the organization and will assist the board in understanding the complex nature of the organization. Her personal experiences as a minority and female can inform and promote a more inclusive environment and agenda for the projects that the board supports.

Janet Archibeque


Rob Batchelder was appointed to the Ascend Performing Arts Board of Directors in May 2023, and currently serves as Vice Chair. As a member of the Senior Foreign Service, Rob has represented the United States overseas in India, Poland, Germany, Argentina, Nicaragua, Jamaica, and Namibia during a diplomatic career spanning nearly 30 years. He currently serves as Managing Director for Visa Services in the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs in Washington, DC. Rob marched in the Blue Knights hornline in 1987 and 1988, and he was Drum Major in 1989. He and his family live in Alexandria, Virginia, but his heart still yearns for Colorado.

Rob Batchelder