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!