Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Still an MU

A few weeks after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, I was painting my porch while listening to a radio broadcast of the "United in Memory" ceremony at the Pentagon. Since the day of the attacks, I'd been feeling what all Americans had been feeling: anger, grief, shock, fear. Now, as the US Navy Band played through the tinny speaker of my radio, I added to my woes the feeling of uselessness.

I'd been out of the Navy for 14 years, but I knew that across the fleet, Navy bands were at work honoring America, consoling the nation and stirring its resolve. Not all these performance were broadcast nationally but each was vital locally.

And I wasn't a part of it.

I was no longer the sailor called to action by a national tragedy. I was a middle-aged guy in a sweatshirt painting his front porch while listening to a Navy band on a transistor radio.

A few years later I joined the Navy Musicians Association and have since become a happy cheerleader for the organization. I'm always willing to share the benefits of membership, the camaraderie, the reunions, the music and stories.

But overriding all of these is the knowledge that through my membership in the NMA, I remain a part of our Navy's history of musical service. I'm a member of an incredible band of veterans and a shipmate to those who still play the music that accompanies our national celebrations and sorrows.

All these years later, I'm still an MU.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Taps 2018

Taps. Taps. Lights out. All hands return to their racks and maintain silence about the decks.


Saturday, June 23, 2018

Here's all you care about...

The Town the NMA Will Make Famous
Nobody threw silverware and nobody got pinned in a figure-four leglock. The 2018 General Membership Meeting of the NMA went well.

Of course, one concern dwarfed all the others: the location of next year's reunion:

The answer: Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Details on dates and hotel are still being hashed out, but you can checkmark June on your 2019 calendar.

And now I head downstairs for the final event of the week, the Saturday night dinner and dance. We'll have a lot to talk about. And over the next few days, I'll have plenty more to talk about here concerning this year's reunion, the friends I saw, the stories we told, the music we played.

But tonight, everyone's talking about just one thing: Milwaukee in 2019.

I'm off to the Membership Meeting

I'm heading down to the ballroom for two traditional NMA reunion events.

First, the break-out breakfast. This is, essentially, a gabfest accompanied by coffee, pastries and fruit.

After an hour or so, our spouses and families will depart and members will stay in place for the second and important event.

The General Membership Meeting is an hour of reports from directors and, questions from members. We review the reunion that's coming to a close and discuss the year that's heading our way.

I think we'll get the answer to the three biggest questions on everyone's mind: location, location, location. We all wa.nt to know where we'll be headed for the 2019 reunion.

We've all got the questions, Reunion Coordinator Carl Gerhard has the answers and I've got a laptop.

So, this afternoon,, you'll have the answers.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Gettin' serious around here

For three days, present and former MUs have had a lot of fun playing, jamming and telling stories at the NMA reunion.

Now things veer onto a different course. Soon begins our Friday night concert band performance. This tradition is a time to show off, to demonstrate what a few days of hard, enjoyable work can do.

It's also time for reflection. We'll honor our former shipmates with The Navy Hymn, our country with "America, the Beautiful" and our comrades-in-arms.with  an Armed Forces Medley.

This is the real thing. Until later: Anchors Aweigh.

Meet the new guy.

Last night I walked into the lounge looking for a jam session. Instead, I found Jake.

Jake Stith is a new member of the NMA and well-qualified; he's an active-duty MU currently serving as an instructor at the Naval School of Music. We shared a few stories about SOM staff duty until the bandstand filled up with eager players.

Petty Officer Stith's youthful exuberance and mature chops kept us on our toes all night.
Any guitarist that can play unison lines with Marty
Nau and not fall behind deserves a medal.