By Angela Williams, Army Flier Staff WriterFebruary 23, 2012
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (Feb. 23, 2012) -- The Fort Rucker community will again have the chance to enjoy Music Under the Alabama Stars as the monthly outdoor concert series, featuring the 98th Army Silver Wings Band, will begin March 23, and continue through August and possibly on into September.
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 CW4 Jesse Pascua, the band's commander and bandmaster.
This year, there are more concert dates on post and the band is working on a theme for each event. Plans for each concert are still in the works, but Pascua said the April concert will have something for children because April is the Month of the Military Child. The May concert will be related to Memorial Day and the concert in June will celebrate the Army's birthday.
Shuck recalls 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," he said.
Pascua also commends 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 says everyone in the band is a musician, but they all "wear the Army green," so they have much the same administration and supply work as other Soldiers.
He says 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 scheduled concert dates are March 23, April 20 (in Daleville), May 18 and June 15. 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.