Playing in an Uncle Sam band


As I'm about to round the corner on my sixth year in the Army Band, my ventures Wyoming-side have given me new bandee grounds to stomp on, most notably, the 101st Army National Guard Band in Denver.

Mostly it's been a good experience so far with the group. I drive to D-town once monthy, do some tootin' on the ol' T-bone, hob-nob, get some free guvment lunches and head back north to my arctic tundra of a home (it's surprising how much colder Wyoming is than Denver).

These times have been good, as a bonus comes in getting to see my Uncle Bob and Aunt Cheryl, the folks I stay with in the Metro during my stay.

But these times have been bad at points too. A certain rigamarole of an army physical that involved FOUR shots and a lengthy BLOOD draw comes to mind. Needless to say I passed out cold, sure as Staph (which I was probably immunized for - who really knows what's in those army shots?).

But you cling to the good moments. Not the ones where the interstate closes because of snow when you really need to drive to Denver. No, you do your best to forget those.

SO. This past weekend forged a cumulative highlight of my time in the Colorado band. We graced the stage of the historic Paramount Theater in downtown Denver, near the happenin' 16th Street (Lo-Do, what-what).

In the end we played sundry Americana hits (were you expecting something else?) with other tasty tidbits sprinkled in (The Music Man medley, an Artie Shaw clarinet concerto, etc).

The two massive Wurlitzer organs rocked the house with us (literally, you could feel it in the walls) and the 1,800 person crowd (with a silver hue, to be certain) never missed a beat, except when they were falling asleep before intermission. It was Sunday afternoon, after all.

I stood around before and after in the entry way, gripping and grinning amid fellow bandsmen. Always entertaining meeting people, where they're from, why they came, and did you know I stormed the beaches of Normandy in '44! Some good personal histories usually come too, free of charge.

I met a 13-year-old kid, there with his rents. He plays the trombone, like his dad. I swelled a few sizes bigger in my dress blues with admiration, sharing the love of a mutual instrument with the fellow Sliders. Something tangible in shared musical experience. Maybe something we played at the concert will make the kid keep playing for even a few more years. I hope so.

Thus, you're never quite certain of the glints and glimmers that will finagle their way into this life. I'm thankful for moments like Sunday afternoon that sheen a bit more keenly than the others. And I'm thankful for musical experiences like playing with a 50 piece group in a 1929 theater for a packed house in Colorful Colorado's capital.

Music used to be such a cornerstone element of my daily life since I was, well, 13 (the year I joined band). It's good to still have a few coins in my pocket these days, if only a remnant of the former melodious wealth.

That's what keeps me coming back.

Goodnight, Denver!

(photo caption: I'm third from right on the far right. this is us playing Stars and Stripes. perhaps you've heard of it before?)

1 Response to 'Playing in an Uncle Sam band'

  • Molly said...'> 12:33 AM

    Ah, the melodious up beats of Stars and Stripes... A real crowd pleaser!