Colts


Other Names:Colt .45, Dubuque Junior Dukes, Legionnaires

Dubuque, IA United States
Founded: 1963

Active Junior
World Class

The Colts is a World Class junior field competition drum and bugle corps based in Dubuque, Iowa.

In 1963, after hosting drum corps shows for several years, the American Legion Post in Dubuque, Iowa, decided to start its own junior corps. Since the adult corps was known as the Dukes of Dubuque, the new junior corps adopted the name The Junior Dukes. Thirty-eight boys made up the corps; they received old bugles and drums from the senior corps.

The junior corps was a parade unit during its first two years. When the senior Dukes of Dubuque folded in 1964, Clarence Hagge, Dick Davis and Bob Buelow took over the Junior Dukes, changing the name to the Legionnaires in 1965. Initially attempting to recruit 13- to 15-year-old boys, the corps began admitting girls in the fall of 1965.

When the Parents and Booster Club was formed on November 16, 1966, the corps had 75 members, all under 17 years old. The first trophy ever won by the corps came that year, a second place in the Hazel Green, Wisconsin, parade. The Cadets were formed in the fall of 1967 as a feeder corps for the "A" corps. Sonia Hickson was its first director.

The Legionnaires were incorporated as a non-profit organization in 1968, when they fielded 83 members. 1968 was also the first full year of competition, with over some 4000 miles of travel. The corps brought home twelve trophies, including the 1968 State American Legion Junior Color Guard Championship. The City of Dubuque proclaimed the Legionnaires their "Junior Ambassadors of Goodwill" and presented the corps with the official Dubuque City flag.

The name change to the Colt .45 became official in 1968 so that the corps could perform in shows other than Legion sponsored events. That year, the Colt .45 adopted all-Western uniforms (because "they were the cheapest") and music. The corps competed in Class A with their first field drill, and won almost all of the 18 events they entered, including the Mid-American Circuit Championship and the Iowa VFW Junior Championship. The purchase of the corps’ first truck was the corps' first big investment.

In 1970, the corps was an innovator by performing the "Colt .45 Stomp,“ believed to be the first non-standard meter arrangement in drum corps history. Written in 7/4, the concept was so radical that some judges ticked the corps down for being out of step on every other downbeat.

1971 saw the Colt .45’s first national competition and the first time it performed on artificial turf, at the VFW Nationals in Dallas. The corps took first place at the American Legion Color Guard Championships.

By 1973, the corps had moved up to a fifth-place finish in the New Orleans VFW Nationals, as well as first in the parade competition. It was also the first year the corps attended the Drum Corps International (DCI) World Championships. A pro football halftime show at Soldier Field entertained 56,000 fans that fall.

In 1976 the corps dropped the “.45” from its name, citing the association with guns and beer. The Colts fielded about 105 members in 1976, and its color guard also began competing in Winter Guard International.

The corps finished 26th at the DCI Championships in Denver in 1977, but due to the disqualification of another corps, were officially ranked 25th, the first time they cracked the top 25. That may have been partially due to the new riverboat gambler uniform designs, created by Drum Corps World publisher Steve Vickers.

1978 was a watershed year for the Colts. A disappointing 27th place finish and a large membership turnover led to a consolidation of a core family philosophy, and a rededication to the proposition that hard work and sacrifice became worthwhile, not only because of the resulting self satisfaction, but also because the man beside you was working just as hard as you were. This feeling of family made every member take pride in the accomplishments of individuals: Jolene Miller-O'Toole was named Color Guard Captain of the Year by Drum Corps World.

The corps had the honor of playing for President Jimmy Carter while he was traveling down the Mississippi River on the Delta Queen in 1979. He told Drum Major Dave Kapp that the corps, "...sounded great.

In 1980 the Robert M. Buelow Award was established to honor Bob for his 17 years of service to the corps; it has since been awarded each year to the person who "contributed leadership, loyalty and personal commitment to the Colts Drum and Bugle Corps during the preceding years."

In 1981 the Colts sponsored a movie premiere ("Take This Job and Shove It") and a circus (for which the 32,000 brochures announced that sponsorship was by the 'Colts Drug & Bugle Corps'), and they purchased three used buses, promptly dubbed "Poseidon", "Lusitania", and "Titanic".

The 1982 Colts can be considered a turning point in the corps' history. An influx of new members helped the corps strengthen its family atmosphere and audience oriented shows. At the DCI Championships in Montreal the corps reached its goal of Associate Membership with an historic 24th place finish, their highest placement to that time.

The Colts were innovators again in 1983, being the first corps to march a complete concept program design for the first time in drum corps history with the "Mississippi Suite." The corps used music and props to tell a continuous story throughout the entire show. At a North Carolina show the crowd, feeling the Colts should have won, booed their second-place finish. This helped members understand that numbers and placement are less important than how they as, individuals, felt after a performance.

In 1984 the Colts became the "Kings of Swing,“ fielding drum corps’ first trap set. At the end of the season, after seven years as director, Jim Mason left to become the director of the new Star of Indiana, and, to pay back stealing him away, Star founder Bill Cook bought the corps new uniforms. Greg Orwoll took over.and remained the corps’ director for the next 26 years.

After their 16th place finish in 1985, Governor Terry Branstad proclaimed the corps "Iowa's Ambassadors of Music,” and jazz ruled the repertoire. The jazz style continued into 1989 with the largest hornline in corps history, 54 members. A record eight foreign musicians traveled to Dubuque to be a part of the 1985 Colts.

1991 saw the restructuring of the member responsibilities and approach to rehearsing and performing, while still keeping the focus of the corps values of entertaining the audience, educating the members and supporting the corps family. During this period the Colts changed their repertoire from jazz to new age literature.

As part of the corps’ 30th anniversary celebration in 1993, the Colts sponsored a parade in conjunction with the local community theatre's production of "The Music Man.” The grand marshal was Mrs. Meredith Willson. The corps that performed in the evening show participated in the parade, which was televised live and attracted the largest crowd to witness a parade in Dubuque in modern times.

The modern day Colts Alumni Association and the Colts Hall of Fame were established in 1993. The Hall of Fame recognizes those who have been a vital part of the Colts history.

The Colts thrived in the heat and humidity of Jackson, Mississippi, in 1993, and surprised everybody with a 12th place DCI finish after years of finishes in the twenties. They stayed in the top 12 through 1996. The directors of Drum Corps Midwest voted them the Most Improved Corps Award, and DCM awarded Greg Orwoll Director of the Year honors. The Colts' best ever finish was ninth, in 1995 during a run of seven Top 12 Finals appearnces in nine years (1993-2001).

The corps started defining the Colts Style in 1998 with the 'A Capella Show,' placing greater emphasis on marching and technique. An incident that year helped the Colts family knit more tightly, and reaffirmed the family of drum corps itself. On the way to a show in Montreal, the three buses were in an accident. Six people went to the hospital, while the rest of the corps went to the stadium. All of the other corps helped the Colts regain their footing, donating food, buses, and time that night. The members and staff pulled together, and the family was made tighter.

In 1998 and '99, the Colts Style became even more evident, both on and off the field. The group's cornfield pratcie field was extended to give the corps a chance to get the show completely on the field, even though record Midwest heat forced them to rehearse at night. Their travels took them to Washington, D.C., where they performed at the U.S. Capitol, and the drum majors participated in a ceremony at The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. And at the '99 Madison DCI Championships, the corps found themselves with a World Champion cymbal line, which scored of 97 out of 100 in the Individual and Ensemble competition.

After a large age-out, the corps was full of mostly new staff and membership (average age 17.5) in 2000, creating an energetic atmosphere, but Semifinals were as close as the corps would get, with a 14th-place finish. The 2000 banquet was hosted in the new Colts Community Center, the first property the corps has owned.

With most of the staff and members returning in 2001, it was easy to pick up where the 2000 corps left off. All season, the Colts were performing at a higher level than had been reached in previous years. On Semifinals night, the corps placed 12th, sending them back for a Saturday night at Finals. This was an experience that many members of the corps had yet to share, making the evening that much more special. Overall, the corps grew as a family and matured as a performing organization.

From 2002 through 2017, the Colts have remained a strong competitor, but have returned to DCI Finals only in 2007, with a 10th place finish. Only the growth in strenght of sll the other World Class corps has held the corps out of Finals.

[Colts Youth Organization; Drum Corps World, (various issues); Drum Corps International; A History of Drum & Bugle Corps, Vol. 2]

Members (99)

Member Name Section Years Involved
(Lawson) Killey, Amy Soprano 2000 to 2002
Albrecht, Bill Baritone 2002 to 2004
Ames, Ernest baritone 1991
Anderson, David Baritone 2000
Anderson, Jocelyn colorguard 2002 to 2005
Ansley, Jake Cymbal Line 2001 to 2004
Armstrong, Craig Visual Tech 2000 to 2001
Armstrong, Craig Drill Designer 2004
Ary, Mike Contrabass 1998 to 1999
Asplund, Greg Baritone 2002 to 2004
Beatty, Steve Baritone 2002 to 2004
Billock, Matt Baritone 2001
Bonfig, Mike Soprano 1990
Breidigam, Nicholas Cymbals 2009 to 2010
Burgess, Dallas Baritone 1996
Burgess, Dallas Brass 1996
Champagne, Nic Contra 2000 to 2001
Champagne, Nic Co-Drum Major 2002
Champagne, Nic Marching Tech 2004
Chien, Chi-Fan Soprano 2004
Cole, Brian Soprano 1998
Coleman, Michael Front Ensemble 2000 to 2002
Crocker, Greg Bus Driver 2000
De Nunzio, Ryan Cymbal Line 1995
De Nunzio, Ryan Front Ensemble/Pit 1996
Dearing, Jon Soprano 1983 to 1988
Doop, Paul Arranger/Staff Front ensemble 1988
Estep, Dawn Contra 2002
Ewing, Janelle Baritone 1997 to 1999
Fisher, Luis Contrabass 1992 to 1994
Fitzsimmons, Dan Mellophone 1991 to 1994
Freelend, Mike Mellophone 2006
Garringer, Alec Tuba 2013
Gervais, Ben Cymbals 2002 to 2004
Guns, Pam Guard 1967 to 1971
Hearn, Patrick Mellophone 2000
Holtz, Erin Mellophone (Auditioning) 2006
Hoskins, Ben Front Ensemble 2004 to 2007
Hudson, Aaron Contra 2005 to 2007
James, Melissa Soprano 2003
Jensen, Anna Euphonium 1987
Johnson, Jim Baritone 1989 to 1990
Johnson, Jim Staff 1991 to 1992
Keech, Darrell Staff 1998
Killham, Adam Baritone 2003
Klawitter, Mike Percussion-Pit 1984 to 1985
Larson, Alex Soprano 2004
Lawrence, Courtney soprano 2003
Lawson, Scott Baritone 1996 to 2000
Ledezma, Ismael Visual Staff 2009 to 2011
Lee, David Contra 2009
Lee, David Euphonium 2010
Leeson, Chris Mellophone 2004
Leitzke, Mike Percussion Staff 2010
Lineberry, Kent tenor line 1996 to 1999
Low- Underwood, Amanda Front Ensemble 1998
Magrini, Vince Contra/Baritone 1982 to 1983
Magrini, Vincent Brass 1982 to 1983
Majors, Aaron Soprano 2002 to 2003
McKenna, Michael Tenors 2002
McKeown, Phillip Bass Line 1998
McLuhan, Graham Trumpet/Soprano 2004
Middleton, Paul Contra 1985 to 1986
Mielke, Dave Baritone 1983
Miller, Jr., J. J. Tenors 1979 to 1986
Mills, Ryan Soprano 2004
Morley, David Soprano 2001 to 2002
Neimeyer, Daniel Drumset (leisure line) 1986
Nelson, Kayla Baritone 2001 to 2004
Nelson, Tony Pit 2003
Nelson, Tony Color Guard 2004
Osborne, Allen Percussion (Snare) 1993 to 1994
Parkinson, Brian Contrabass 1993
Pietscher, Elsa Baritone 2002
Pressley, David driver 1993 to 1999
Rabbitt, Emilie Colorguard 2004
Reder, Rob Front Ensemble 2003
Reed, Michael Brass Staff 2001
Riebesehl, Dale contra 1983
Rogers, Brandon Mellophone 2004 to 2005
Ross, Dilan Back Field Conductor 2003
Saunders, Von Contra 2004
Schreiber, Keriann soprano 1999
Schultz, Timothy Soprano 2003
Schultz, Timothy Baritone 2004 to 2005; 2007
Schunk, Carter Trumpet 2017 to 2018
Schwarz, Dana Colorguard 2004 to 2005
Smith, Joe Mellophone 2003 to 2004
Smith, Samantha Mellophone 2005
Splitter, LeAnn Soprano 2001 to 2002
Splitter, LeAnn Visual Staff 2003 to 2006
Stegall, Floyd Management 1991 to 1996
Swift, Grant Contra 2004 to 2006
Symoniak, Kyle Contrabass 2002
Viviano, Joseph Front Ensemble 2004 to 2005
Wear, Ryan Tenors 2000; 2002
Wolff, Erin Colorguard 2002
Wong, Nick Baritone 2006 to 2007
zimmermann, judy brass 1968 to 1972

CORPS 5 items

Colts

Colts Dubuque IA-1 from the Bill Ives Collection
Colts

Colts Dubuque IA-4 from the Bill Ives Collection
Colts

Colts Uniform 1990 from the Bill Ives Collection Contributed by Nick Breidigam
Colts

Colts Uniform 2007 from the Bill Ives Collection Contributed by Nick Briedigam
Colts
PDF Document
224-225, Colts from the Steve Vickers Collection

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