06 December 2016

The Navy's Newest Bandmaster

I don't suppose the Navy music program will ever honor me with a special "it's never too late" award for all my great sacrifices. On the the other hand, I was never in harm's way during my Navy service.

But Ira "Ike" Schab was. He was an MU1 with Band 13 in Pearl Harbor when our Navy underwent the surprise attack of 7DEC41. He spent that "Day of Infamy" passing ammunition aboard USS Dobbin.

Ike served his Navy and country until 1947 but never achieved his dream of becoming a bandmaster--until now. Our brother-in-arms has been promoted to Honorary Bandmaster and spent his first day on duty with the Pacific Fleet Band.

Lots more details at navy.mil, but right now, here's our newest bandmaster in action:

06 August 2016

Let it Be the Russian Navy Snow Band Forever.

I repost this every few years because, like fine wine and Frank Sinatra, it improves with age.

It's the Russian Navy Show Band's stirring performance of "Let it Be." What's great about this?


  • They're serious. You can tell because, obviously, no one's having any fun. 
  • The lead singer is highly trained. The giveaway? He sings sharp. Anyone can sing flat, for any number of reasons: the key is out of your range, you're tired, you can't hear the monitor, you're tired or you just suck. But singing sharp takes talent. Singing above pitch is the domain of experts, and this guy is an expert. He's not always sharp; that'd mark him as an amateur. No, he's sharp just often enough to let you know he's a real pro. And he smiles when he does it.
  • It's just as good when you turn off the audio. Try it. Particularly during close-up shots of the lead singer, you'd swear you're watching New Gingrich in a community theater production of "The Good Ship Lollipop."
  • It's a reality check for those old-timers who reminisce about their days as active-duty Navy musicians and say, "I'd join up again in a heartbeat if they'd let me." Well, this is what your dream come true would look like. Check out the backup singers, most of whom are two-decades too old to be wearing sailor suits.   

This is as good as it gets. Encore!

18 June 2016

2016 Taps

Taps. Taps.

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


Saturday-night Dinner & Dance

It moves so fast. A few moments ago, it seems, shipmates were greeting each other, tuning together and preparing for a few days of music and camaraderie.

Too soon it comes to a close. The Saturday-night social hour begins in a few minutes. Then we'll eat, we'll dance, listen to speeches, play in the big band, tell more stories.

Then we'll pack up the gear, load the truck and meet in the lounge for goodbyes.

Out-of-town reunions always bring surprises, and our visit to Kansas City surprised us with new members from the Midwest, old members who drove from the West Coast and unexpected musical talents.

And, oh, the stories. I even heard a few about me. Shock. Awe.

I'll be back tomorrow with the news of tonight....

2016 NMA General Membership Meeting

In one word: "Terrific."

That's how President Terry Chesson described the 2016 NMA reunion at this morning's General Membership Meeting. There was no objection from the floor.

Highlights of the meeting include reports from a few members of the Board of Directors:

David Blakeley, editor of Leger Lines, said that there's only one thing he loves more than getting promises to send him photos for publication in our newsletter: actually getting the photos.

Equipment Manager Leon Harris thanked members who wish to donate musical instruments to the NMA. He added usability and condition are important; we do need a good electric piano, but a contra-bass bassoon with a cracked barrel and its key rusted shut would not be particularly helpful.

Marshall Hawkins, manager of the NMA archives, offered his thanks for the help of Mike Beegle and Randy Fendrick and added that the search for a permanent home for the archives continues. Hawk concluded his remarks in less than 60 seconds, leaving us with the questions, "What happened to the real Marshall Hawkins?" and "Who was this impostor?"

When the floor was opened for comments from the membership, two things became clear.

-- Our new members were particularly grateful for the warm reception accorded by old-timers.

-- All members of the NMA are recruiters. Even in this high-tech world, many MUs still don't know about our organization. And some still believe that ours is a "retiree's" organization.

President Chesson concluded the meeting with the observation that the Navy Musicians is not an organization for retirees. It's not for officers. It's not for one-hitch MUs; the NMA is for one-hitchers and retirees and enlisted musicians and officers.

"Anyone who has worn the MU's lyre is eligible," he said. There being no objection, the meeting was adjourned with the hopes that next year's gathering in Virginia Beach will attract even more newcomers to the NMA.