Join the Army. Travel the World.

So, it’s been three months since my last post…I’ve been at my new assignment, The U.S. Army Field Band, for over six months and haven’t done a blog post about the job yet…you could say I’m terrible at this blogging thing and you’d be right! But better late than never.

I’ve been with the Army Field Band since September and have already gone on two tours – one, a 21-day tour of the Midwest; the other, an 18-day tour of the Southeast – both shorter than their usual 30-40 day tours. I have to say it’s been nice to be eased into the touring thing with these shorter tours! A rude awakening is coming next spring when we tour the Northeast. I know; I’ve seen the draft schedule.

Shortly after I arrived (and after taking some PCS leave after returning from Korea), I hit the ground running as the Band was preparing to do a recording of Leonard Bernstein’s music in celebration of his 100th birthday in August 2018. My role was to organize and run the schedule as well as assist the lead engineer in the booth during the recording sessions. It was a great learning experience working with a Grammy-nominated engineer. The Band played well and I was immediately impressed with their nuanced musicianship. It’s funny how when a band is stabilized and performs a lot together, they sound really good. Huh…

The view from the sound booth during the recording:

Now on to what the Field Band does so well – performing concerts across the country. The Band’s mission is to connect the American People to their Army by performing everywhere from small towns in a gymnasium to big cities and the best concert halls. The fact that they play at a high level isn’t surprising (though I’ve never heard a band play as well as them when they’re truly “locked in”); what’s impressive is how well they play day in and day out during a long tour. They come into a town; small groups go out in the morning and do clinics and masterclasses at local schools; then in the late afternoon, a contingent of them go to the concert site to load out and set up; then the Chorus arrives to do their sound check; then 30 minutes later the rest of the Band arrives.

Everything is set up – dressing rooms marked, a computer and printer set up to print out certificates for student guest musicians; a Band member meets with the student musicians to walk them through the procedure for getting on and off stage; another member meets with the local color guard and briefs them on what they need to know; the narrators meet with the sponsor and find out who needs to be thanked. The Band then plays the show, meets with the audience members for a few minutes, then breaks down the stage and loads it onto the truck. Go get something to eat, get some sleep, repeat and repeat. No stage crew or roadies; just the Band and the wonderful drivers who get them from place to place. Very impressive.

One of the most compelling things about the job is the interaction with the audience after the show. That’s when you see first-hand the impact of Army Music. I’ve been thanked for my service more times in the past six months than the rest of my 19 years combined. It’s humbling and inspiring…and it’s great to hear veterans tell their stories. That’s been a focus of the Band’s – to listen and record our veterans stories.

Here’s one WWII vet that I think talked non-stop for about 25 minutes; we got it all on tape:

Here’s the Band at Greenville High School playing in their gymnasium (which had surprising good acoustics)…and is the High School of one Matt Light (former Patriots lineman):

And here’s the Band in Carmel, Indiana at the beautiful Paladium:

It truly is a pleasure to perform with such fantastic musicians and dedicated professionals. The Band has a lot of cool plans in the works. I’ll try to do a better job of documenting them. As always, you can check out my wife’s blog to get a more detailed look at life on tour…because she’s so much better at this than I am!

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Army Bands

The Last Jedi Review

Like a lot of people, we went to see Star Wars: The Last Jedi during its premiere week. Like many geeks, I’d been going over the trailers and watching YouTube videos analyzing them shot-by-shot in an attempt to gleam insights into the direction the story might be taken. Overall, I enjoyed the movie; there were many positives – I think the visual palette, cinematography, humorous moments, and the overall feel of the film were all well-executed. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Hobbies

Cut the Cord (already)

Over the last year, more people cut the cord from their cable providers than ever before, and why not? Between the multiple streaming services, the move by networks to place content online – even original, exclusive content – and the different devices we can now use to watch said content (pretty much all home theater devices are “smart” at this point), there’s really no excuse unless you like paying all that money for channels you’ll never watch…or if you really do use most of those channels, go for it. I know a little about this because my wife and I were a little ahead of the curve when we cut the cord back in 2011. Home theater is one of my hobbies so after recently upgrading our set up, I thought it was time to write another post about how we continually enjoy our home theater without the “aid” of cable television. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Tech

Thank you, Korea

Last week, after 22 months of serving in the Republic of Korea, I relinquished command of the Eighth Army Band to a friend of mine and I’ve begun in-processing Fort Meade for my new job as the Deputy Commander of The U.S. Army Field Band. While it’s great to be back in the States and serving at the Field Band, it was tough to say goodbye to our home for the last two years.

We made a lot of friends and created many great memories that we will re-live through our thousands of photos (digital photography is one of the great inventions for travelers). While we were able to get some great travel in to Japan, Thailand, and of course Bhutan, the two things that made these last two years so special was the beauty and hospitality of Korea and the Korean People and the unique and important mission of the Eighth Army Band…and Korean fried chicken. Continue reading

3 Comments

Filed under Army Bands

Happy Independence Day


This July Fourth, don’t read other people’s opinions on the meaning of Independence Day or what someone else thinks the Founders meant. Read the founding document yourself and come to your own conclusions. Read it and see for yourself why the United States is unique in the history of nations. Happy Fourth! Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Review: Blades Grim Shave Soap and Pre-Shave Oil

Last October I wrote a post about wet shaving; you can check it out here. In that post, I mentioned a Kickstarter campaign I funded from Blades Grim that scored me a shave soap and a set of scented pre-shave oils. Well, in January I started using them. Bottom Line Up Front: I’ve really enjoyed using their soap and shave oils; it was definitely money well-spent. I’m sure you’d like a little more detail so let’s get into it. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Army Bands

Army Music – Honor Guard Ceremonies

In an effort to keep up my spotty track record of intermittent blog posts, I’d like to highlight one of the mainstays of the 8th Army Band’s mission – Honor Guard Ceremonies. These ceremonies, held on US Army Garrison Yongsan (at least until the four-star headquarters moves down to Camp Humphreys), are conducted on the gravel of Knight Field in front of U.S. Forces Korea Headquarters. Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under Army Bands