30 March 2013

Once again: our fleet bands are the real deal.

I'm a fleet band kind of guy, and that's putting it nicely. Sure, I appreciate the expertise of our "special" bands in Washington and Annapolis, but the fleet bands have always done the heavy lifting.

Last year my wife and I went to see the US Navy Band's Sea Chanters here in western Illinois. They were tremendous, there's no denying it. Midway through the show, they took a few minutes to thank the audience for supporting them on their annual three-week tour.

"Wow," my wife whispered. "A three-week tour! Did you ever do something like that when you were in the Navy?"

"Yeah," I said. "Sometimes, one a month."

So I get bummed when I see well-produced Navy videos that feature fleet bands, but contain soundtrack music by the US Navy Band. Fleet bands are not chopped liver, I tell myself; why do we have to import audio tracks from the high and mighty?

That's what was going through my mind as I watched this video celebrating the 70th anniversary of the US Navy 7th Fleet, a 4 1/2-minute photo montage held together by concert band music. "Damn good video," I'm telling myself, "made even better by the damn US Navy Concert Band. Sure, they're good; great, in fact. But why couldn't a fleet band do the job? In fact, they shoulda had the 7th Fleet Band do the job instead of--"

Then came the closing credits. The music was, in fact, provided by the 7th Fleet Band.

Nicely done, shipmates. Those fancy-pants boys and girls in DC ain't got nothing on you.

I don't say this because I was a fleet bandsman (once leader of the 7th Fleet Ceremonial Band, in fact), or because the Navy Band long ago refused my entreaties to join them in their rigorous regimen of annual three-week tours. No, I say it because it's true:

Our fleet bands are the real deal.