FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. -- What happens when you combine some of America's most talented musicians with an innate desire to rock audiences worldwide' You get The Volunteers of The United States Army Field Band.
Their name can be a bit deceiving. Perhaps from the wide variety of rock, pop, and country music they perform, a more appropriate moniker would be The Chameleons.
Also, they are not volunteers in the typical sense of the word; actually, each member of the band is an active-duty Soldier.
So who are The Volunteers'
They are the United States Army's premier touring pop/rock band, wowing audiences across the United States with performances that are as powerful and unique as the American people themselves. The name stems from the Army's all-Volunteer force, which during the inception of the band in 1981, was still a relatively new concept.
Today, The Volunteers continue along the path of popular American music that is enjoyed by audiences of all ages. What separates The Volunteers from the typical military band is their versatility when performing.
"You have to be able to do so many different styles, 100 percent of the time," said Sgt. 1st Class Pete Krasulski, the bass player. "Ultimately, for me it's to entertain. I want to put on a show and just be entertaining. The average person wants to be entertained. That's our job."
For some members of this six-person band, entertaining is only part of the equation. "When we finish a show and have a recently widowed wife and daughter that want to get our pictures...The healing that can take place through our music is what keep s me going," said Staff Sgt. Randy Wight, one of The Volunteers' vocalists. "It's a ministry for me. We have gifts that I believe used in this capacity has a very positive energy with it. In that sense it is my way of ministering to people."
Varying opinions also contribute to the uniqueness of The Volunteers. Vocalist, Sgt. 1st Class April Boucher attributes The Volunteers' success to their differences. "As different as we all are, when we come onstage our differences don't matter," said Boucher. "It's performance magic, an automatic thing. We want people to have a good time and show a different side of the Army."
Showing a different side of the Army is especially important when The Volunteers play for younger audiences. Part of The Volunteers' mission is performing in high schools and assisting the Army's recruiting effort throughout the United States.
"Kids don't know what to expect," said Sgt. Maj. Kirk Kadish, the keyboardists. "This is not your father's Army band. It broadens perspectives. The whole idea is to put a human face on the Army. For some people we are the only Army they encounter. Their entire encounter with you will form their opinions about the whole Army."
The Volunteers also take time to answer questions after a performance. This too helps the younger audience understand the Army and the opportunities available in the armed services. "It is not only that it's neat that we are musicians," said Staff Sgt. Tom Lindsey, the band's guitarist. "They don't know that you can be a medic and work in a dentist office. They ask us questions and we tell them honestly what we know. We tell them about the Army and our job."
The Volunteers plan to continue capitalizing on their success by writing and performing more of their own material in the future. Original content will allow The Volunteers the opportunity to explore a new side of Army music that they have yet to experience as a band. It will also open doors to new audiences and exciting ways to tell the Army story through American music.