FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Whether people are dreaming of a white Christmas or waiting for Santa to come to town, those feelings can all be magnified as a community when the 98th Army Band Silver Wings performs at the Commanding General's Holiday Concert Dec. 14.

The musical extravaganza kicks off at 6:30 p.m. in the post theater and promises to be a show to remember, said band commander CW4 Jesse Pascua.

The show will feature traditional holiday favorites, but will also mix in rock-influenced numbers, and Hanukkah and Kwanzaa selections in an effort to include as many people as possible in the celebration of the season, Pascua said.

"We're trying to hit a lot to entertain and also educate at the same time," Pascua said, adding that narration will be added into certain selections. "Hopefully the narration will help a little. Sometimes, when people hear music they don't recognize, they think 'That's a great song, but what does it mean'' A little narration here and there helps."

This will also be the first time Silver Wings does a holiday concert with its own lights and soundboard, said Sgt. Jonathan Greer, clarinet player who will be operating the sound board for the event.

The concert will also feature guest vocalists, including Fort Rucker's own Robert Johnson, and, of course, a visit from Santa, according to Staff Sgt. Christopher Nguyen, percussionist with the band.

"This is our time to give back to the Soldiers who have been doing their jobs on a daily basis," Nguyen said. "We hope it gives them and their Families a break as everyone gets ready to enjoy the holidays. It'll be a great show, and if the kids were good all year, Santa might even have some candy for them."

The band is working feverishly to prepare for the concert, along with carrying out its normal duties, which have yet to slow down.

"This one of the busiest times of the year for us - we're going 100 mph during the holiday season," Nguyen said, adding that a lot of the Silver Wings' work is in off-post communities to further community relations. "The holidays bring with them about 25-30 extra missions for us. Every town has a Christmas parade and we try to make it to all of them. It's what pays the bills. We wouldn't be doing our jobs if we didn't go out there and support the small communities."

People who can't make the Dec. 14 concert but still want a little of that Silver Wings holiday cheer can catch the band in Ozark Wednesday or take the excuse to go to the beach for the holidays for a performance in Panama City Dec. 15.

People attending any of the shows should remember that the band thrives on feedback from the crowd, said Greer.

"Crowd reaction is something we really crave because so many times during our ceremonial work, like at graduations, people may want to applaud, but it just isn't appropriate," he said.

Spc. Tim Stuart, saxophone player, agreed, adding, "Most of the band is made of professional musicians and we're used to stepping out in front of a crowd to show what we do - this is our passion, we love our craft. And if the crowd gets into it, it's just that much better."

Band members are confident all of the shows will be great times for the audiences looking to enjoy the season.

"A light show, professional musicians, holiday music - and it's free," Stuart said. "If I wasn't in the band, I'd be there."

Spc. Kevin Drysdale, percussionist, said he'd be there, too.

"It's all about unity - everyone sharing a common bond no matter what your religious beliefs are. It transcends that - a common feeling of cheer, friendship and good spirit. It's a time of the year we can all come together and agree on that one thing, at least."

For more on any of the band's performances, call 255-9202.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16