A resident of the City of Santa Clara since 1957, Dan Smith joined the Sunnyvale Sparks in 1966 as a French Horn player, and then became a Charter member of the Santa Clara Vanguard in 1967. He aged out in 1969 and was then asked to join the very small SCV Staff as Pete Emmons’ Assistant Marching Instructor (M&M). Following the 1970 American Legion National Championships wins by SCV (Corps & Guard) – G.R. and Pete asked him to instruct both M&M and the SCV Comp Guard, leading the CG Team that included Marilyn & Ernie Modesitt (Undefeated 1971 CCGC Champs). It was during the push that led SCV to win the 1971 VFW Championships that Dan was called to Active Duty with the U.S. Air Force.
In the Fall of 1967 Dan was hired to start a Horn Line for what was to become the Redwood City Guardsmen D&B Corps. He later took over all Brass Arranging, Drill Writing and started the Comp Guard (1970 CCGC Class A Champs). Two years later he was hired to start another Horn Line – for the Golden Eagles D&B Corps, which later split off the Knight Raiders (later to become the San Jose’ Raiders). Through Dan’s efforts – the Guardsmen, Golden Eagles/Knight Raiders provided training opportunities for a number of future SCV Members and Instructors.
It was also in the Fall of 1967 that G.R. sent Dan to start training to become a Brass Judge (with the All American Judges Assn, which later became the Pacific Coast Judges Assn, for which he continues to serve as Visual Caption Chair). The next year he expanded his training to also become an M&M and Color Guard Judge. He judged his first competitions in 1969. And in 1976 he judged his first contests for DCI, followed by a number of years judging DCI Finals, Semis and Prelims on both Visual & Brass. Dan continued to judge for DCI until the he retired at the end of the 2014 season (38 years). He also judged Nationally for WGI. And he continues to judge both Music & Visual for Marching Bands, Winter Guards, Percussion and Winds in the United State & Canada. Most recently he became the Music Caption Coordinator for the California State Band Championships (CSBC).
While on Active Duty, Dan started working with the Cheyenne Central HS Band, where he started their Comp Guard (1975 & 1976 Continental Divide CG Circuit Class A Champs) and for whom he served as Drill Writer and Arranger for a number of years after he returned to Santa Clara.
Following his return to Santa Clara he was part of opening the new Independence HS, where he served as Band Director, Arranger, Drill Writer, and where he started yet another Comp Guard/Winter Guard. It was during his tenure as Band Director at Independence that his Bands became the 1981 MBA National Champs and performed in almost every major televised parade (Tournament of Roses, Macy’s, Orange Bowl, Fiesta Bowl). It was also during this time that he and four other Band Directors co-founded what is now the Western Band Association (WBA). And once again, through Dan’s efforts – the programs at Independence HS provided training opportunities for a number of current & future SCV Members and Instructors.
During the 1980s and 1990s Dan continued to judge for DCI & WGI and was being called upon more and more to judge regionally and nationally with the growing Marching Band activity. It was also during this time that he became one of the first judges from California to become involved with the new Winter Percussion activity.
In 1997 Dan started work with the Ohlone College Music Dept and with the growing Band Program there. He continues to work at Ohlone College continues to play in the Bands there.
Also, in 1997 Dan became active with SCV once again first as a member of the SCV Alumni Corps, then as a member of the SCV Alumni Steering Committee. Following the Combined SCV TOR performance in Pasadena in 2004, Dan took two years off as a DCI Judge and joined the Staff of SCVC as a Brass Instructor and Staff Mentor.
In 2001 Dan was honored by the California Color Guard Circuit (CCGC) as the third recipient ever of the Warren Tom Award for Dedication & Service to CCGC. Since 1967 he has been involved with CCGC as an Instructor, Judge for Guards & Percussion, served as Director of Training, Chief Judge, and from the late 1980s until he retired from the position following the 2019 season – Percussion Coordinator for CCGC. He continues to be involved with CCGC as a Judge and Mentor ….
In addition to being inducted into the SCV Hall of Fame, Dan was recently inducted into the Buglers Hall of Fame.