Oregon City/Portland, OR United States
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The original Oregon Crusaders was founded in 1971 by brothers David and Ron Jones, ages 15 and 16, who had previously participated in the Seattle Sentinels and the Imperial Cadets. They wanted to have a Willamette Valley drum corps and originally wanted it to be named the “First Militia Oregon Crusaders” after the historical First Militia of Oregon, but only “Oregon Crusaders” stuck as a name. They attended West Linn High School, had the strong support of their parents and drew 40 kids that first year, mostly from West Linn and Oregon City. The brothers’ dedication was matched by their skill in performance; David was Oregon State rifle twirling champion in 1971.
That 1971 corps included only drumline and colorguard, with 15-year-old David serving as Corps Director and Ron as composer, arranger and drill designer. Unfortunately, their bus broke down in Roseburg, Oregon, on their way to their only competition that summer – an indoor colorguard competition to be held in Watsonville, California. They had to cancel their only planned competition, and thus ended the very first year of the Oregon Crusaders.
The next year, David and Ron bounced back in 1972 and with the help of their father secured a large donation from the Dickinson’s Gourmet Preserves company, now owned by Smuckers. The Dickinson’s chairman, Mr. Phillips, had a son who joined OC as a baritone player, and helped to provide a donation that bought two buses that season. Painted blue to match their blue uniforms with its white cross, and in the spirit of the newly renamed “Dickinson’s Oregon Crusaders,” the buses were named “Pacific Mountain Strawberry” and “Willamette Blackberry.”
By 1973, the group had grown and merged with the Imperial Cadets to field a corps of 115 members. But by 1974 the groups split and OC went its own way once again. In those early days OC was one of the first drum corps to do extended touring beyond the Northwest region, traveling to Alberta, Calgary, Edmonton and Northern California.
David and Ron have both been involved with OC since those early days, with David’s son Scott performing with the 2004 corps in the front ensemble and Ron lending his compositional skills to the 2003 show.
Ron Jones married Laree Kenzel, a Milwaukee (Oregon) student and an OC member, and has since become a music celebrity, with three Emmy nominations and a Grammy nomination for his compositional work which includes The Family Guy, Star Trek: The Next Generation, and Ducktails, among many others. See his IMDB Page. Ron performs with the renowned Influence Jazz Orchestra, is the founder of a worldwide music education company called Compose Yourself, and currently resides in LA with his wife Laree.
David Jones is the Vice President of a large premium travel service based in Texas and continues to follow OC with great interest. Both David and Ron attribute their career choices to their early drum corps experience; Ron with composition and Dave with getting the buses from point A to point B.
As the years went by and Ron and David aged out, the corps went dormant, but the designation “Crusaders” was again picked up in 1999 by Rick Wise who, re-founded what was then called the “Southern Oregon Crusaders” based out of Medford, Oregon. Dan Perry was also instrumental in this re-starting of the Oregon Crusaders. Bill Perkins relocated the corps to the Portland Metro area in 2002 and officially renamed the corps the “Oregon Crusaders” after the original Clackamas-based corps. Interestingly, Bill marched in the Sunsetters when Ron and David Jones were starting the original Oregon Crusaders.
In the modern era of OC since 2000, OC won the Division III championship in 2004 and two years later received fourth place in the Division II Drum Corps International World Championships for their show “Echo.”
In 2007 the corps was “re-founded” once again, this time by Dr. Phil Marshall, Jeff Bush, Travis Moddison and Mike Quillen. OC built a whole new staff and style with their show “Gates,” garnering a 5th place finish. Success continued in 2008 with their show “Inner Connections,” placing 4th in the newly combined Open Class. The following year OC placed as a DCI Open Class Finalist with their show “Equilibrium.” In 2010, OC received its highest placement ever of 2nd place in Open Class, and their highest score in corps history (94.0) for their show “Dance of the Flames.”
In 2011, the corps again drew upon the creative talents of Todd Zimbelman, Travis Moddison and JC Caceres, and added some new talent with Mike Stevens and Charlotte Morrow as they embarked on their ambitious 2011 program entitled “The Blue Hour.” Marching 114 members, the corps nearly captured the Open Class title with the highest score in its history (94.7), and received high brass, high visual performance, and Director of the Year was awarded to OC’s Mike Quillen. The corps then went to Indy, where it competed in World Class for the first time, achieving 18th best overall horn line, and receiving a score of 75.15.
In the summer of 2012, the Oregon Crusaders once again pushed the boundaries of the drum corps art form with their program “Dreaming in Color.” With the movement of color to color, from one dreamy trance-like phase to another, the drum corps’ activity predominated in visual ensemble artistry. The result was an undefeated year and the organization’s first Open Class World Championship with a score of 95.25, along with high brass, high visual performance, and high general effect. The corps went on to achieve 19th in World Class competition with a score of 77.45.
For the 2013 season, the corps has achieved World Class status from Drum Corp International. With the addition of Visual Caption Supervisor Mike Fanning, along with numerous other talents to the design and instructional team, the corps dazzled audiences with its 2013 program “My Heart. My Battle. My Soul.” told the story of love, loss and longing set in the south, with selections to include Going Home, Summertime, House of the Rising Sun, Adelle’s Rollin in the Deep, and Joshua Fought the Battle of Jericho. The corps ended up in 17th, achieving its highest score in corps history of 81.05.
In addition to the summer Drum and Bugle Corps, Oregon Crusaders runs the OC Indoor winter drumline program, founded by Jeff Bush and now led by Mike Stevens. OCI received the gold medal in WGI (PIA) in 2009, and the bronze medal in WGI (PIO) in 2010. In 2011, they were granted World Class status, and advanced to the WGI finals with their innovative show “The Red Shoes,” which combined a world-class colorguard component with their world-class drumline. In 2012 they competed in World Class competition with their program “Shine.” In 2013, they were World Class Finalists with their program “Voodoo”.
In July, 2013, it was announced that the visual ensemble portion of OC Indoor would break off as its own WGI color guard ensemble called “OC Independent” led by long-time OC instructors Charlotte Morrow, Melissa Goodling, Jeff Capponi and designer JC Caceres.
The Oregon Crusaders is funded through the donations of kind individuals, the fees paid by our marching members, and through other fundraising activities. Our budget is over $400,000 a year and as OC continues to grow, we greatly appreciate your contributions and support."
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