Music Under the Alabama Stars April 20
Members of the 98th Army "Silver Wings" Band perform at one of last year's Music Under the Alabama Stars concerts. The band will be at it again April 20 for the kickoff of the 2012 concert series.

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (April 12, 2012) -- Fort Rucker's 98th Army "Silver Wings" Band strikes up its popular concert series Music Under the Alabama Stars April 20, and the band also plans a special event for the Army's birthday in June.

Rain cancelled the scheduled start to the series March 23, but the April 20 show is on for 6:30 p.m. at Howze Field as the band puts its talents on display to provide a relaxing evening of music, Family fun and comradeship, according to CW4 Jesse Pascua, 98th Army Band commander and bandmaster.

Families are invited to bring coolers, picnic baskets, lawn chairs and even pets to Howze Field to enjoy the Alabama evenings and the music performed by the band and other visiting groups. As details are finalized, the information will be posted on the band's Facebook page, said Staff Sgt. Matthew Shuck, senior operations NCO.

The summer concert series started last year with a few concerts on post, and several more in the surrounding area.

"It started out very small, but it was very, very well received and we'd like to continue that," said Pascua.

This year, there are more concert dates on post through August and possibly on into September and the band is working on a theme for each event. The May concert will be related to Memorial Day and the concert in June will celebrate the Army's birthday.

Shuck recalled the streamer ceremony from last year's Army birthday concert. "We had re-enactors from all the wars come and put the campaign ribbons on the flagpole. It was really interesting because you got to see period costumes from all the way back to the Revolutionary War."

He expects this year's June concert to feature something similar. Shuck, who plays guitar, also expects different elements of the band to be featured in various concerts this summer.
The Silver Wings Band is more frequently seen in formal settings such as graduation ceremonies, but they do much more than that. The entire band is composed of about 40 members, but features many smaller groups such as a rock band and a New Orleans style-brass band, he said.

The concert on May 17 will feature one of these groups. The band's jazz ensemble will join with a traveling jazz ensemble from Methodist University in Fayetteville, N.C. The group is touring the southeast and contacted the Silver Wings band about playing for the troops while they were on tour.

"They're patriotic Americans and they wanted to play for the troops. We just happened to be able to work something out," Shuck said.

Shuck has been with the Army for almost nine years and he's still surprised some people don't know about the band, especially with how full the schedule stays. Just the group that plays for graduations can sometimes provide music for nine ceremonies a week.

"We're logistically moving everybody everywhere and making sure everybody gets everywhere they need to go," he said. "But, it's great. People get a chance to play music and we get a chance to serve -- to do what we can to add to the better fight. It's our little niche market that we can give back to the community."

Pascua also commended the work of the Army musicians. Often, band members don't finish playing for special events until late in the evening, but they're back early the next morning for physical training.

He said everyone in the band is a musician, but they all "wear the Army green," so they have much the same administrative and supply work as other Soldiers.

He added that the concerts are a way to thank the community for their support of the military here. He encourages people to come to the concerts and hear the band because they're "more than people see on the parade field."

So far, the other scheduled concert dates are May 17 and June 22, and there will be no official concert in July due to 4th of July activities, but the concerts will begin again in August.

For more information, visit the 98th Army Silver Wings Band Facebook page.

Page last updated Thu April 12th, 2012 at 11:48