U.S. Army Field Band's The Volunteers 'rock and roll' Prince George's County Music Day
June 2, 2011
FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. (June 2, 2011) -- It was no surprise to hear that The Volunteers were invited to Six Flags America on May 20 to perform for roughly 1,600 music students during Prince George's County second annual Music Day.
What was surprising is that they did it without one lead singer.
Male vocalist Staff Sgt. Randy Wight had to sit this performance out while recovering from an injury suffered during the spring tour. And although The Volunteers missed Wight's presence, they did what they always do - rock the house!
"We miss Staff Sgt. Wight on stage and we hope he gets better real soon, but you know the show must go on," said Sgt. 1st Class Peter Krasulski, electric bassist. "We had a solid performance. [Vocalist Sgt. 1st Class April] Bouchera delivered 110 percent as she always does on stage, and it was just a great show."
For guitarist Sgt. 1st Class Tom Lindsey, Wight's absence was felt. "We approached it with having a lot more fun and not trying to let it bother us that we had someone gone. Like a sports team, no one is a star player; we all work as a team and it comes together nicely. If one of us is missing, we're still going to put out 100 percent."
The group performed many songs including "The Pretender" by the Foo Fighters, "Brick by Boring Brick" by Paramore and "Raise Your Glass" by Pink.
If the songs sound new, that's because they are. When The Volunteers planned their spring tour in April, they decided to completely revamp their playlist. They wanted to include songs that were not only new, but currently played on the radio.
"I think that playing more music that is relevant -- and by relevant I mean music that is being played on the radio now -- helps," Staff Sgt. Glenn Robertson said. "And I think the way we are structuring our shows where the music does not stop ... we are just awing them. First off, on the fact that the Army does have a band that can pull this stuff off. And second, just the whole presentation. We hit 'em, and they are shocked by what is going on, and then they get comfortable with it and realize that you're supposed to have a good time."
And so far, the feedback has been phenomenal. From an increase in positive social media response to handwritten thank you letters, The Volunteers has really found its niche when it comes to reaching its audience.
"I saw a lot of kids clapping along, dancing," Lindsey said. "If you study one or two kids and are not scanning the audience, you can see them singing the songs, which is really cool. They definitely knew the tunes. Even the parents and teachers were getting into it."
For some students, the experience was more than just a good time. Fifth-grader Mariela Quijada, a flutist at Beltsville Academy, said the performance inspired her.
"I want to grow up to be a musician," she said. "My favorite part was when the Army band played, and I knew some of the songs there and it was cool."
Lionel Harrell, band teacher at Beltsville Academy, said music is an outlet for children to express themselves and be proud of what they are doing. Inviting The Volunteers to perform, he said, may inspire students to follow their dreams.
"We invite military groups to see what it is like to perform in a high-caliber group," Harrell said. "They will leave here and think it is cool and be excited about seeing other musicians playing the instruments that they are starting out on. And it will inspire some, if they were not practicing a lot, to try to get into the instrument a little more. It gives them an opportunity to see what could be if they choose to pursue a musical career."
For a listing of The Volunteers' summer schedule and information about when the group will perform in your area, visit www.ArmyFieldBand.com and click the "schedule" link at the top of the page.