TUSAB bassist receives award
February 14, 2012
Staff Sgt. Regan Brough, a bassist with The U.S. Army Band's Army Blues jazz ensemble, was a recipient of the 2012 Col. Finley R. Hamilton Outstanding Military Musician Award in January. Brough, who received the award at Brucker Hall last month, was one of 39 recipients of the award, which is given out each year to outstanding individual musicians in grades E4 through E6 who exhibit leadership potential and serve in U.S. armed forces bands.
The award, named after a former commander and conductor of the U.S. Army Field Band at Fort Meade, Md., who died in 2009, is presented jointly by the National Band Association and the John Philip Sousa Foundation.
Col. Timothy J. Holtan, current Army Field Band commander, said the award was established by the National Band Association in 2010 after Hamilton's death as a tribute (Hamilton served as the association's president) and as a way to provide inspiration to young up-and-coming military musicians.
"This is a way to pat young musicians on their backs. To be singled out is a huge vote of confidence," said Holtan. Twelve Hamilton awards were given out to service musicians in 2010.
Although the award is given out by the two extramilitary organizations, it is administered in part through musicians at Fort Meade who review applications for the award, said Holtan.
Brough received the award in Brucker Hall Jan. 20 from Col. Thomas H. Palmatier, leader and commander of The U.S. Army Band, who succeeded Hamilton at the Army Field Band before coming to TUSAB last year.
"Col. Finley Hamilton was one of the most distinguished military musicians in our nation's history," said Palmatier. "'Pershing's Own' is lucky to have many noncommissioned officers of the quality of Staff Sgt. Regan Brough. He wonderfully represents America's Army in hundreds of performances each year, showing the professionalism of our Soldiers."
"He is the ultimate team player; always happy to volunteer to get something done. He looks for solutions," said Sgt. Maj. Tony Nalker, Army Blues pianist and group leader in describing Brough. "He's an excellent composer and arranger -- two of his compositions have appeared on Army Blues CDs -- and he maintains the ensemble's music library."
Master Sgt. Steve Fidyk, Army Blues percussionist and section leader, nominated Brough for the award.
"Brough was obviously squared away," said Fidyk. "He's got a great attitude and is very positive. You can always rely on him to get the job done."
"He's a superlative musician. He plays beautifully. He makes the unit better and stronger. I don't see any weaknesses in him," said Fidyk, adding that Brough also helps out with the group Downrange, is a member of a scaled-down section of the Blues that performs at White House and State Department functions, and is a Boy Scout leader to boot.
Fidyk was a member of Fort Meade's Army Field Band when Hamilton was in charge. He said Brough exemplifies the qualifications the colonel looked for in a Soldier musician.
Brough said it has been instilled in him since he was young to do the right thing and do it for the right reasons. "I was raised at home to accept the responsibility for my actions," he said. "When I drop the ball, I need to step up and fix it. It doesn't help anything if you go through life with a sour attitude."
Brough, a native of Orem, Utah, started on piano at age 7 with the Family understanding he should be adept enough to sight-read church hymns on call. At 11, he took up the electric bass, switched to the three-quarter size upright at 13 before finally playing the full-size instrument at 15. He cites Jaco Pastorious and Victor Wooten as his primary influences on electric bass, and Ray Brown, John Clayton Jr. and Christian McBride as his musical forbearers on upright.
Before receiving the Hamilton award, Brough won second place in the '08 International Society of Bassists competition and took the award for outstanding instrumental composition at the '06 Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival, held each year in Moscow, Idaho.
The piece, "I Don't Know Why," was "the second big band chart that I'd ever written," he said.
Brough has been with TUSAB for just over five years. He said he was lucky to get a paying job as a professional musician with the Army Band just three weeks after graduating from Brigham Young University.
According to Fidyk, Brough was one of approximately 20 musicians to send in performance tapes or CDs when the bass position opened with the Army Blues. From that, six candidates were chosen to audition in person and Brough was the standout.
Brough said Army Band musicians have a special role.
"We all exist for supporting Arlington National Cemetery [at funerals]," he said. At the cemetery and in concert performances, "We're there to tell the Army story … to make people aware of the sacrifices. And because of that, I feel a personal obligation to be at my best."
Outside of the Army Band, Brough plays with the Alan Baylock Jazz Orchestra, the Capital Bones (led by Army Blues colleague Master Sgt. Matt Niess) and teaches students of bass in his home. He is married to Rachel, a piano teacher, and has a 2-year-son named Ethan. In his spare time he enjoys playing golf and tennis and reading religious and political philosophy.