Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Peace be unto you, Sea Chanters

I knew the Sea Chanters would be good. They're a unit of the U.S. Navy Band, so excellence was a given.

And if I was going to expend the effort to drive an entire 33.5 minutes to see them in Rock Island, Ill., they'd have to be good. I'm a former fleet bandsman, and I'd been blogging for days about my typical fleet bandsman's love-hate relationhip with the U.S. Navy Band. To keep this old MU happy, the Sea Chanters would have to put on a hell of a show.
Hat in hand, former MUC Frank Mullen III apologizes to Sea
Chanters leader MUCS Georgina L. Todd for his recent salvo
of crude carping about the Navy's premiere musical units.

They did.

Their performance in Augustana College's packed Centennial Hall moved brisky and hitchlessly, alternating choral numbers with songs and medleys by smaller vocal groups and soloists. In fact, each member of the ensemble is a capable and professional solist.

They had everything. Props. Sets. Choreography. Broadway tunes, pop songs, oldies and newies, all delivered with enthusiam.

And pacing. The performance flew by until, after perhaps an hour, the leader, MUCS Georgina Todd, addressed the audience,stressing that the U.S. Navy Band sends units like the Sea Chanters to remind America of the professionalism of its Navy. Then they let loose the musical guns of patriotism and fired away until the audience was on its feet.

Including me. I admit it: I was enthralled by the Sea Chanters.
Don't get me wrong--I haven't changed my mind about the professionalism of the Navy's fleet bands. There's nothing second-rate about them; they're top-drawer units, every one, and I'm proud to have served in them.

But my first encounter with the Sea Chanters was an eye-opener, and I'm willing to drop some of my bias. In fact, I'll offer this group the highest accolade I can think of:

The Sea Chanters are as good as any musical unit in the fleet.


Tim Foley said...

Told you so! :-) I love you Frank.

United States Navy Band said...

"Then they let loose the musical guns of patriotism..." That line made my morning.

Glad you enjoyed the show.
--MU1 Grimm

Tom Gillette Curmudgeon said...

MUCS Todd? Must have been a long, arduous climb from Boot Camp to E-6 to MUCS...I can't quite count all those gold stripes on the sleeve. Life is hard in DC! And I'm wondering, did they sing "American's We?"

Seriously-- Glad you liked it. They ARE paid professionals, after all!

Karl Hovey said...

Thanks for the kind words, Frank. And I, for one, also don't sell the fleet bands short, and I have a frame of reference since I served in Charleston and TI from 1977-82.

@Tom Gillette: yes, it's tough to get promoted from the E-6 start. I assure you, Gina is considered a hard-charger.

Finally, y'all realize the Navy Band Concert Band is also on tour throughout the Mid-West? Think you might have the time/inclination to catch one of our concerts, Frank? I promise to pose for pictures with you afterward, although I'm nowhere near as attractive as MUCS Todd.


MUCS Karl Hovey, Principal Tuba, US Navy Band

GRIMM said...

I suppose it depends on your definition of "tough to get promoted." I've been a first class for 11 years, and I'm getting... well... closer (I think). A fleet musician who was in my division at boot camp just made chief last year.

I also seem to remember working pretty hard to get in the band to begin with...

[politely steps off soapbox]