Posted on August 14th, 2021
The World Drum Corps Hall of Fame has named Reading Buccaneers and Blue Devils as corps of the decade 2010 to 2019. Both organizations have previously been honored: Blue Devils as junior corps of the decade 1980 to 1989 and Buccaneers as all-age (previously senior) corps of the decade 2000 to 2009.
The Buccaneers of Reading, Pennsylvania, won the Drum Corps Associates (DCA) championship nine times in the past decade, including eight years in a row from 2012 to 2019. The Blue Devils of Concord, California were Drum Corps International (DCI) chsmpions six times in the decade.
Blue Devils have expanded operations far beyond the drum and bugle contest field since 1957 when the Concord Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) branch founded Blue Devils Performing Arts (BDPA) after acquiring the Martinettes, a local all boy drum section and all girl drill team. The group’s new name referred to the color blue associated with the VFW and local landmark Mount Diablo. With fewer than 50 members, the Blue Devils began as an all boy drum line and separate all girl marching team.
In 1958, the Blue Devils became a drum and bell corps by adding glockenspiels to the percussion line. A color guard was added in 1961. The drum and bell corps, including boys and girls, dominated in that era as well, going undefeated in the California state championships for 13 years. The Blue Devils became a drum and bugle corps in 1970, adding 10 brass players to the drum and bell unit. The corps first toured nationally in 1973. Blue Devils swept all categories to win their first DCI title in 1976, never finishing out of the top five since then.
The organization now includes Blue Devils Music School with students as young as four; the Diablo Wind Symphony serving students ages 14 to 18; an On-Stage series of theatre productions; performances and clinics with world-renowned artists; BD Entertainment, offering site-specific entertainment for corporate events, trade shows and special events including live television performances.
Buccaneers are DCA charter members, winning the inaugural championship title in 1965. Since then the Bucs have become the most decorated corps in DCA history, winning 17 titles, finishing second nine times and third seven times. The Buccaneers were DCA champions on their 50th anniversary in 2007 and 60th anniversary in 2017 and were the final corps to win the VFW national title in 1962, after which the award was retired.
The Reading Buccaneers originated in 1957 as a parade corps including former members of local junior corps and veterans of both World War II and the Korean War. For the first appearance corps members wore borrowed trousers and played instruments purchased with borrowed money. The ship’s wheel featured in the corps logo reflects the Bucs initial nautical theme.
The leap from parade corps to the competition field came May 30, 1958 when the Buccaneers performed at the Preview of Champions in Jersey City to fill in for a corps that had cancelled on short notice.
Field contests in the VFW circuit began the same year, with the Bucs taking the title three years in a row: 1960, 1961 and 1962.
Junior and all age corps selected by the Hall of Fame for earlier decades are: 1940 to 1949: Holy Name Cadets and Lt. Norman Prince; 1950 to 1959: St. Vincent’s Cadets and Reilly Raiders; 1960 to 1969: Chicago Cavaliers and Hawthorne Caballeros; 1970 to 1979: Santa Clara Vanguard and Hawthorne Caballeros; 1980 to 1989: Blue Devils and Sunrisers; 1990 to 1999: Cadets of Bergen County and Empire Statesmen; 2000 to 2009: Cavaliers of Rosemont and Reading Buccaneers.
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