Reading Buccaneers Hall of Fame
Steve had a talent for drill design and staging which he demonstrated by taking several corps to\ drum corps history, including Chicago Cavaliers, Bluecoats, Sky Ryders, Dutch Boy & Florida Wave. He is from the Mohrsville area north of Reading and attended Schuylkill Valley schools. Steve began his drum corps career in 1977 as a member of the Buccaneers rifle line in 77 and 78 and wrote the Buccaneers shows from 1984 through 1987. His concept of designing clarity of intent, understanding and entertaining made an impact that remains with the entire activity. One of his most visible contributions is his concept of integrating the guard and percussion sections into the overall design. Sadly Steve passed away from brain cancer in 1993 but his contributions to the activity live on. For his contributions to the Buccaneers and the drum & bugle corps activity Steve Brubaker has earned posthumous induction into the Buccaneers Hall of Fame.
Ken has a long history with the Buccaneers including the 1979 & 80 Championship years. Beginning in 1978 as a baritone player and converting to Contrabass in 1980 until 1984. In 1985 Ken was an assistant horn line instructor. He continued to support the Bucs musical mission directing and arranging music for the Buccaneer Alumni Christmas Brass from 2009 through 2021. The Christmas Brass helped expand the Buccaneer brand in areas in and around Reading where people may not be aware of the corps. The Buccaneer Christmas Brass performances are typically at senior citizens homes or other venues where people are shut in. They always appreciate a ‘pick me up’ at the Christmas season. This group could call themselves anything they want, but they affiliate with the Bucs, thus spreading the brand, professionalism and music making talents of the Buccaneer organization.
In 2018 Ken founded and directed the Buccaneer Banner Brass. In addition to performing at the Buccaneer indoor and outdoor home shows, Banner Brass performed for the Berks Arts Bandshell Concert Series and the Reading Fightin Phils. Performances at the Reading Phillies games consistently drew immense and very appreciative crowds, helping to promote the Buccaneer brand throughout the Reading /Berks area.
Outside of the Bucs, Ken retired in 2018 after a 37-year career in music education. He is presently a brass instrument repair technician for the Zeswitz Music Company. Ken founded the Berks Summer Band Institute in 2004, which is still going strong, providing a summer band experience for Berks County musicians of all ages from elementary students through adults. If you want to play in a band over the summer, feel free to come out and join us!
Ken has filled in as a guest instructor for the Bucs Alumni horn line recently and admitted that he had a blast doing so. The horn line members agreed fully that they enjoyed his instructional style and learned a lot during his occasional time with us. Ken is the epitome of a Buccaneer. For his many years of active participation on and off the field as well as being a superb role model within the general Reading area of what a Buccaneer is and does, Ken has clearly earned induction to the Hall of Fame.
Jim Gruber fondly remembers first meeting Robert Thomas (affectionately known as RT) in November of 1975. The place was the PAL building in Reading. After playing a few notes for Red Winzer, (brass caption head), it was determined that Jim should be in the mellophone section. RT was the first guy Jim had a conversation with. RT spoke in a kind, caring and comforting voice. That conversation made Jim fell this was the place to be. RT came to the Buccaneers horn line in 1973. From 73 until 1982 RT played in the horn line on baritone, mellophone and alto horn. Basically, wherever a solid horn was needed, Robert Thomas could be counted on the handle it. His career spans several highlights including winning the 1979 & 80 DCA Championship & being a member of the 1981 hornline, arguably the best hornline the Buccaneers ever had. It is important to note that after a somewhat disappointing 1978 season (7 th place 79.7) and membership numbers declining, RT took it upon his himself to create a pamphlet that was handed out at band shows to enlist new members. Perhaps it could be said that the role of ‘membership manager’ was established in 1978. After the results of the 1979 season, one must say RT gets an A+ as the Buccaneers won their 3rd DCA World Championship. Many folks credit RT with the corps successes in 79, 80, and 81 because of his diligence with membership. Lest we forget, RT was a music and marching machine. Solid in both areas he was also a leader in every section he participated in. As a person, one member relates, he can't say enough about RT’s level of dedication, reliability, and kindness. He is a dedicated Buccaneer who is often seen cheering on the Bucs at local shows and contests. For his many years of dedication and contributions to the Buccaneers it is time for RT to be inducted in the Buccaneers Hall of Fame.
Rick Thomson came to the Buccaneers in 1989 with no formal music training (unless playing drums in a high school rock band counts) and said he learned as he went through the help of patient and talented corps staff. He started in the pit (tympani, snare, & ‘toys’) and moved to the cymbal line in 1990. He played air bugle in parades to help fill out the corps and quickly switched from baritone to soprano after the first parade. After being elected Vice President of the corps, he assumed the position of President in 1991 when the current President had to step away for a family matter. It was a challenging year, but Rick held the corps together somehow. During his presidency, he spearheaded rewriting the corps bylaws to create the current organizational structure and standardize communications. He made an informational corps brochure that he distributed at indoor shows. He also assisted with the Mini Grand Prix, a joint fundraiser with the Reading Marketing Association. However, his most daunting task was having the corps make the field and DCA Finals when there were only 55 members that included a hornline of 23. Thanks to Rick, the Buccaneers survived some very, very thin years.
After stepping away in 1992 due to career obligations, Rick jumped right back into the cymbal line in\ 1993 before his career left little time for drum corps. In 1998, Jim Gruber asked Rick to take on the position of Public Relations Manager, which he did through 1999 and assisted the corps at shows. He had a corps banner made, so people knew who the corps was at parades, among other actions to increase corps visibility, recognition, and style consistency. Once that began, he continued volunteering wherever he was needed. He spent no less than ten years volunteering for the Berks Jazz Fest on behalf of the Buccaneers, as they were an integral part of the production crew. In 2005, Rick helped drive one of the equipment trucks to the show in Winston-Salem, NC, and continued to assist with the performances. For years he has been the man behind the curtain as the Stage Manager at Spring Preview. He volunteered for duties at Big Sounds in Motion from the early days at Albright College to the present day. In 2017, he teamed up with Bill Powers to help create and co chair the ongoing Buccaneer Classic show in Landisville. For his years of dedication and contributions to the Buccaneers, Rick has earned induction into the Buccaneers Hall of Fame.
To see all past Hall of Fame Inductees, click here!