Spirit Drum and Bugle Corps

Spirit Drum and Bugle Corps

The Spirit Drum and Bugle Corps is a DCI World Class (formerly "Division I") Drum and Bugle corps, currently based out of Jacksonville State University in Alabama.



Spirit was founded in 1976, originally named "Concourse". A contest was held to find a new, more appropriate name, and "Spirit of Atlanta" was chosen. The corps was a first in that it was sponsored locally by television station WXIA, making it the first corporate-sponsored drum corps. The founding director of the corps is Mr. Freddy Martin.

Competing for the first time in 1977, the corps played an eclectic repertoire which included the opener "Carnival Overture" by Dvorak. The corps placed 23rd at DCI World Championships, a record for a first-year corps.

Going into the 1978 season, an effort was made to secure the finest instructional staff possible. Among others, Jim Ott was hired to instruct the brass and write the brass book, and Tom Float was hired to instruct and write for the percussion. The core instructional group was in place which would take the corps to new heights. In 1978 the corps placed sixth at the DCI Championships in Denver, losing high brass to the Phantom Regiment by one tenth of a point.

The 1979 season saw continued success as the corps played their signature Buddy Rich tune "Nutville" and a swinging arrangement of "Sweet Georgia Brown". Spirit placed 4th at DCI finals in 1979.


Tragedy struck the corps in 1980 as brass arranger Jim Ott was killed in a staff van accident just outside Grenada, Mississippi on Interstate 55. The corps was devastated emotionally but carried on to another fourth place finish including tying the Bridgemen for the drum title.

Prior to the 1981 season, the corps lost its corporate sponsorship from WXIA. Financial adjustments were made and the corps continued on.

In 1981, the drill designer was Steve Moore; horn caption heads included Gary Markum and Joel Schultz. Visual Designers were Freddy Martin and John Armstrong. The guard instructors brought in the varied talents of Julie Gilbert of the Crossmen, Cindy Anderson of the Guardsmen, and Robert S. Robinson of Jacksonville State University and Chapter V Winter Guard. Tom Float remained percussion caption head and Mike Back was one of the percussion instructors. During second tour, the guard removed their trademark blue jackets to reveal red satin vests. The guard ranked 11th in their caption at DCI finals, the corps 12th.

After two disappointing years competitively, in 1983 the corps rallied to a seventh-place finish behind the new visual staff of Sal Salas, Scott Chandler and Tam Easterwood along with long time marching instructor Brad Carraway.

In 1984 the Spirit drumline under Mike Back made a run at the high percussion title as they were the "host corps" for the 1984 World Championships.

The 1985 corps saw Tam Easterwood and Scott Chandler's colorguard win the guard trophy, a feat they would repeat in 1987.

In 1986, the tenth competitive season of the corps, the "throwback" show of Southern blues, jazz and gospel earned them a sixth place finish and an all-time high score of 94.1 at the DCI Championships.

In 1988, after a disappointing competitive end to the 1987 season, a decision was made to turn away from jazz and blues to the classical idiom. Although the corps' competitive placement improved from tenth to ninth place and scored in the 92's just weeks prior to finals, the classical show based on Stravinsky's "Petrushka" was panned by drum corps fans used to the high-powered brass and exciting shows for which Spirit had become known.

In 1989, Spirit dropped from finals for the first time since 1977.


In 2000, Spirit re-organized and moved its base to Jacksonville, Alabama, and officially became known as "Spirit from Jacksonville State University". They have since regained their finalist status in recent years and have returned to the high-powered, entertaining shows for which they are known while staying on the cutting edge of innovation and experimentation in the drum corps idiom.

In 2008, this association with Jacksonville State University was essentially dissolved, resulting in a simplification of the corps' name to "Spirit Drum and Bugle Corps."

External links

* [http://www.spiritdrumcorps.org/ Spirit Drum and Bugle Corps] : Official website
* [http://www.drumcorpswiki.com/Spirit_from_Jacksonville_State_University Spirit DrumCorpsWiki] : DrumCorpsWiki entry

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