Sunday, February 26, 2012

USS Blue Ridge & 7th Fleet Band - Shanghai, 1989

Here's the USS Blue Ridge pulling into Shanghai, China for a goodwill visit in May of 1989.

The event is a big deal; the crew is manning the rails, the color guard is in action and, of course, the ceremonial unit of the 7th Fleet Band is performing on deck. In a short scene on the superstructure, you can overhear the brass trying to spot the waiting dignitaries.

The band starts playing at 3:20 and continues throughout the video, reappearing at 4:00, 5:00, and for "Anchors Aweigh" at approx. 7:30.

And it's striking to me how important the band is. The whole thing wouldn't feel right without the backdrop of a ceremonial band. Don't believe me? Turn off the sound.

Of course, I can't be objective; naturally, a Navy band was playing at every ship arrival or departure I ever attended.

But that band on deck is not a frill. It's an intergral part of this important function.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

"Sing, Sing, Sing"--Why, Why, Why?

For those who, a couple of years ago, thrilled to the hideous performance of "Let It Be" by the Russian Navy Showband (it's posted below for those whose memories need refreshing), let me assure you the hunt for odd performances by foreign Navy bands goes on.

Today, we have the Latvian Naval Forces Band doing "Sing, Sing, Sing," and, I have to say, they do a creditable job, job, job. And they've got that special something that was such a great addition to the Russian Show Band: women out front. Only better; in the Latvian Navy band, the women actually do something. They smile, they tap dance, they gather around the drummer during his extended drum solo.

Still, something about it all just doesn't add up. Kinda like the guy on the left with the marimba; there's nothing wrong with it, but there's not much right with it.

But at least these women have a reason for being. The women in the Russian Show Band are like those girls with banners that come out on the fooball field during halftime. We understand the band. We understand the cheerleaders. We even understand the baton twirlers. But the girls who swirl banners around--what's with that?

It's a question you find yourself asking as you watch these Eastern European Navy bands. Oh, you be the judge. First the Latvian Naval Forces Band.

And, like I promised, here's the Russian Navy Show Band performance of "Let It Be" that, a couple of years ago, had visitors to NavyLyres threatening to throw their computers in the bathtub. If you've seen this before, be warned: some things do not improve with time.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

7th Fleet Band in Action

It's my old unit--I led the Show Band and Ceremonial Band way back when. This video, entitled simply U.S. Seventh Fleet Band, contains some old stills--I recognized Andy Vermiglio and Dennis Digman--but it's mostly recent footage.

It's a dynamite job. The credits list MU2 Sadler for just about every creative aspect of the production. I'd say he or she deserves that credit--this is a top-notch job portrayal of a top-notch band.