Memorial Day and the Fourth of July evoke images of family cookouts, ﬂag waving and bands playing “God Bless America.” In Fayetteville, we have the privilege of having that All-American feeling all year long. And the soldiers in the Army Ground Forces Band provide the patriotic soundtrack for our city.
The next chance to see the concert band is Saturday, June 9 at 7 p.m. at Seabrook Auditorium at Fayetteville State University.
The show celebrates the Army’s 237th birthday. Maj. Treg Ancelet, band commander and conductor, said, “It’s not just a concert. It’s a big production.”
“We’re bringing in The Victory Belles, an all-female group that sings at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans. The Victory Belles will do Andrews Sisters medleys and songs from that era — the patriotic stuff. The band will play songs from the era like Glenn Miller, Harry James, Benny Goodman. It will truly be Americana.”
Also present will be the Jazz Combo and the Dixie Band, which are two of the smaller ensemble bands. There is also the Brass Brigade, Brass Ensemble, Brass Quintet, Jazz Guardians, the rock band, The Loose Cannons, and the Quintessential Winds ensemble.
Ancelet is enthusiastic about the variety the band brings to the community. “In the ‘40s you could play Glenn Miller and everyone was happy — soldiers were happy, parents were happy. We don’t have that anymore. You have to do pop, hip-hop, country, Latino. There is so much music.”
“We go from Sousa to Pitbull.”
With so many musical options, the band can cover more ground. At any event or any given part of the day, you may see one of the ensemble bands playing. Not only do they play locally at 4th Friday and lunchtime concerts at the FORSCOM headquarters, they are traveling soldiers, too. They’ve played at the USS North Carolina in Wilmington and for a national audience at NASCAR events.
Comprised of 60 musicians, the band is one of only three large bands in the U.S. Army that are attached to a four-star General. They came to Fort Bragg as part of the BRAC move from Atlanta last June. The Army Ground Forces Band joins the 82nd Airborne Division Band in providing entertainment for our troops and community.
The Army Ground Forces Band musicians are some of the best in the Army. Auditions are required and you must be invited to play. Afterward, the musicians rotate through the three large bands during their career. These musicians are still soldiers though.
“A lot of people don’t realize what we do. We’re all soldier musicians. We all went to basic training. We all qualify on our weapon. A couple weeks ago we rucked 12 miles with 35 pounds on our backs. We go to the range. We do all of the Army stuff,” said Ancelet.
The mission for Ancelet is clear. “Besides being a ﬁ ghting force, we’re here for America. We want to make Americans feel proud — whether it’s welcoming troops home from Afghanistan or playing at the VA hospital, we just try to make people feel proud about being an American.”
“When you come to a concert we want you to have that feeling of pride in America, know the Army story and remind people of what the country has gone through. When you walk out of our concert, we want you to have that patriotic feel — the goose bumps and the pride. That’s what we aim for every time.”
The 237th Army Birthday and Musical Salute to America is general admission and free to the public. For more information, visit www.forscom.army.mil/band/ or call 910.570.7223.
Photo: Staff Sgt. Frank Briscoe, Army Ground Forces band trumpeter.