By Staff Sgt. Corey Baltos, U.S. Army NorthMarch 11, 2013
FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas - "Fort Sam's Own" rocked its way to the top yet again.
For the second year in a row, "Epic Flood," a rock band ensemble from the 323rd Army Band "Fort Sam's Own," rocked and rolled its way to victory as the members earned bragging rights in the large popular music ensemble category of the Army Band 2012 Mission Performance Team of the Year competition.
The competition is held virtually via videos posted on the Army Band intranet. What makes the competition somewhat unique is that all members of the Army Band community itself are eligible to cast their votes.
The competition categorizes large popular music ensembles as "performing any genre of popular music with nine or more performers." The inaugural contest kicked off in 2011; it is open to all active, reserve and National Guard bands.
"Since we have won the award every year since it started, they are going to start calling it the "Epic Flood" award," joked Staff Sgt. Tony Cooper, lead vocalist for the group.
While the members of the 323rd Army Band play together as part of the overall band, they also play in smaller mission performance teams.
"We have a Latin band, two brass quintets, a ceremonial band, a show band and two rock bands within the 323rd Army Band," said Sgt. 1st Class Dion Kruczek, noncommissioned officer-in-charge of Epic Flood. There are currently 52 Soldiers assigned to the band, so many of the Soldiers play in several MPTs.
Epic Flood, with 10 members, is classified as a large rock band and as a show band. The band members are assigned to the various performance teams based on the instruments they play.
"Epic Flood got its name because it combines our two small rock bands into one epic flood of music," explained Spc. Andre Badeaux, a vocalist with the 323rd Army Band.
The members of Epic Flood said they were thrilled about their repeat in earning top honors.
"I feel so excited about winning a second year in a row," said Kruczek. "I am retiring at the end of the month, and this was a very great way to end my career as a bandsman."
One of the reasons for Epic Flood's success, said Kruczek, is the chemistry within the group.
"We were lucky to have a group of musicians that had great chemistry and similar backgrounds," she said.
One of the difficulties Army Bands face, said Cooper, is that the musicians are only with the group for two or three years before they move on to their next duty stations.
"The chemistry of the group can change very quickly," he explained. "A lot of the members of Epic Flood will be leaving over the next few months so it will be an entirely different group next year."
The band members also said that their song choice was vital in helping to put the group over the top. For this competition, the band chose the Queen song "Bohemian Rhapsody" to show-off their harmonic prowess. Their entry was a video recording of their performance at the Night of the Rocking Dead Halloween, Oct. 30, 2012, at the Fort Sam Houston Theater.
"Our goal was to win the award for the second year in a row," said Cooper. "We knew we had to step up our game to show that we are the best."
The song itself, said Badeaux, is an extremely challenging one.
And as challenging as the song itself may be, the group members said they felt that if they nailed it, they had a great chance of repeating their success from last year.
"If we hadn't done that song well, I wouldn't have sent it in to be judged," said 1st Sgt. James Kruczek, 323rd Army Band.