The 41st Army Band will be marching into Redstone Arsenal this summer and sharing musical talent at events throughout the region.
Based in Jackson, Mississippi, as a part of the Mississippi National Guard, the band is comprised of 37 members and directed by Chief Warrant Officer 3 Casey Kirk, the bandmaster and commander of the unit.
Just as all National Guard units meet monthly to prepare for their missions and two weeks per summer, the band is committed this year to Redstone Arsenal, Kirk said.
They are already booked for a number of performances, including one for veterans at the Floyd E. Tut Fann Home, another at the U.S. Veterans Memorial Museum, and several Armed Forces Week events, including the popular July 4 Concert in the Park and fireworks display in Huntsville. There, they will play as an ensemble featuring traditional patriotic music such as John Philip Sousa marches and the Star-Spangled Banner, among other favorites.
At some points during their time in the area, members will break into smaller groups for missions under such names as Category 6, a jazz band; Magnolia Brass, a brass quintet; and C.F. Brass, a rock/pop band.
The individual group’s repertoires range from concert music to country, rock, jazz and gospel, Kirk said.
“We can be in different locations at the same time with our music performance teams,” said Kirk, who has degrees in music education and percussion performance, and is an assistant professor of music and director of bands at Belhaven University.
Soldiers in the band range in age from their 20s to their 50s. Most of them have music degrees. Some, like Kirk, are band directors, while others are music performance students in college.
They come from all parts of Mississippi and other states in the Southeast, including some from as far as Louisiana, Georgia and Tennessee.
“All of us have pretty extensive musical training in our civilian lives, and through the various courses that Soldiers are required to complete throughout their Army career,” Kirk said.
They go through a rigorous audition process and once accepted, must go through 10 weeks of basic training and 10 weeks at the Army School of Music at the Little Creek Naval Amphibious Base in Virginia Beach, Kirk said.
After that, they meet once a month on weekends to do Army training. They have to qualify in weapons expertise and soldiering skills each year. But their main activity when they gather is to rehearse and accomplish their National Guard objectives.
Members make a six-year commitment and can renew thereafter, Kirk said, adding that some members of the band have been involved for over 30 years.
Kirk said the band’s roots go back to World War II.
According to the Army website, the band was awarded federal recognition as a permanent unit in the Mississippi Army National Guard in 1962 in Oxford and was transferred to Jackson in 1967.
The overall theme of the band is “to tell the story of the Army, and build esprit de corps in order to foster the will to fight and win,” Kirk said. “This is a special thing, to be involved with the armed forces.”
The band has performed throughout the country, including at various festivals, battle sites, memorials and the Pentagon, and has traveled overseas to places in South America and northern Africa.
There is some availability in the band’s schedule during their time at Redstone Arsenal. For more information, or to make a request, you may contact the unit at 601-313-6348 or via email at email@example.com.