Saturday, June 18, 2022

NMA 2022 Reunion Wrapup

It has happened before. Things move so fast at an NMA reunion that I can't keep up with it all. And, suddenly, it comes to an end. Tonight will be our banquet and dance, and tomorrow morning we'll say goodbye. Over the next week, I'll have time to post much more about this reunion. So, now, with what little liberty time I have, I'll report this:

Nat "King" Cole sang a song about this reunion: "Unforgettable." It wasn't the biggest reunion we've ever had, nor the loudest. 

It was a week of challenges and solutions. Because of ongoing covid concerns, attendance was down. But we made it work. Trumpeter Don Keller picked up an f horn to fill out the horn section. Another trumpeter, Don Junker, volunteered his skills on the bass fiddle to fill in the bottom. Wherever you looked, MUs were pitching in to make the gig work. 

They succeeded. Last night's concert band performance--in my not-so-humble opinion--equaled the success and artistry of any NMA performance in memory. Ray Ascione, our new conductor, put the band to work, and the work paid off.

The Big Band worked hard, too. I'm looking forward to the dance tonight, in particular, to see the trombone section at work. We didn't have an excess of bone players, so they've all done a lot of playing. Bless their evil little hearts, I'm not cracking the usual trombone jokes this year.

Again, I'll soon have more to say about this reunion. Meanwhile, I offer thanks to all whose time, energies, and talents mad the 2022 reunion Unforgettable.

Thursday, June 16, 2022

2022 NMA Reunion: Day 2 in Review


We rehearse behind closed doors, not because
we're keeping secrets, but because not all hotel
guests want to be listening to Liberty Bell March
while sipping cocktails at the bar.

Thom Weller and Randy Martell.

Carl Gerhard solos in Peter Graves's
Porgy and Bess medley.

Wednesday, our second day in Virginia Beach:

We're beginning to hit our stride, as our rehearsals exude a new sense of confidence. This was particularly true in the concert band. 

For one thing, a fuller band showed up for 1330 rehearsal. On Tuesday, our numbers had been low, but yesterday, more members had arrived. Also, a sufficient number of percussionists were in evidence. It is believed that after our first rehearsal, Jim Richards scoured the hotel, enlisting drummers with sketchy promises and vague threats.

In addition, someone had evidently sprayed the rehearsal room with WD40. The rustiness of our first rehearsal had been almost eliminated. 

We rehearsed and read through a wide selection of pieces. While we sometimes play old favorites, some of our pieces are new. Peter Graves brought a new arrangement of music from Porgy and Bess. Peter's work is professional and, as you might expect, challenging.  

Ben McHorney's The Fallen pays tribute to those fighting men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation. Timing is often critical in music that includes a narrator. It is also critical that the narrator, himself, not become overwhelmed by emotion.

New Suite for Old Salts provides its own challenges. I based this piece on Holst's Second Military Suite, turning it into something a bit more "nautical" than "military." It contains a few musical "punch lines" from the trombone section.  Entrusting trombone players with punch lines is always risky, but things improved, once they got the joke. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

MUs in their Native Habitat

Bob "Boomer" Grindle is seen here telling a sea story to Terry Chesson. Terry responds with the same, obvious enthusiasm you or I would show in a similar situation. They're so much like you and me, those MUs.

NMA Reunion--Tuesday, Day One in Review

Yesterday--Day One of the 2022 NMA reunion-- began with the usual mixture of well-planed precision and low-grade chaos. The chaos was minimal because our set-up crew did a fine job of preparing our rehearsal spaces. (The concert band rehearsal room featured real music stands, borrowed from the School of Music. We did not miss our usual Rube Goldberg folding contraptions.) 

Because many members had not yet arrived,  a number of shipmates filled vacant billets. Don Junker played bass in the dance band, trumpeter Don Keller helped fill out the concert band horn section, and I reprised my long-abandoned role of Lord High Bass Drummer Extraordinaire. Not since the 1984 Newport Police Parade had this talent been on display.  

And, yes, Mel Leketa joined the clarinet section. This is true shipmatery.

Day One finished with a jam session in the lounge. The Lord High Bass Drummer now became the Low-rent Bass Player of Minimal Chops. I lasted four tunes. 
Melanie Leketa joined the clarinet section. 
We are grateful, not only for her talent
and willingness, but because the alternative
clarinet draftee was Terry Chesson.

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Change 12(b)3.4

In the navy, it was called the plan of the day. Here, we call it the rehearsal board. Or, the gig board. Or the schedule.

Whatever you call it, it is sure to change. But, that's not a problem; we are sailors, and we know how to pass the scuttlebutt around, so everybody knows what's going on. Definitely. Sort of. Absolutely. Usually.

Why, Oh, Why?

The Blu Bar. Again.
Ashely's Bistro  is our lounge, where we gather to jam and socialize. It's traditional, it's wonderful, and it's down a looong hall.

The Blu Bar sits in the lobby. You don't have to wander the hotel to see who's there; you just peek into the lobby.

It's convenient, so the question isn't why we hang out there. The question is:

Why do I keep taking this picture? Every year I take this picture of MUs hanging out in the Blu Bar. Why do I do this? I've got pix of MUs in the Blu Bar dating back to its installation in 2009. NMA members aren't patrons of the Blu Bar; they're plankowners. They shouldn't be buying drinks; they should be getting hashmarks for time in service.

I'm gonna find the first photo from 2009 and post it every year. Save some trouble, and, really, who's gonna know the difference?