Music plays an important role in the Army. Not only does it lift the spirits of soldiers abroad and at home, it also acts as a bridge between the military and the rest of the nation. Simply put by Capt. Dae Kim, the commander and conductor of the Army Ground Forces Band, “We are the musical ambassadors of the American combat soldier.” The Army Ground Forces Band has fulfilled this role since its inception in 1845 in a city known for its music, New Orleans. The band is now stationed at Fort Bragg and has played numerous shows in the surrounding area, such as the performances in the upcoming Summer Concert Series in Festival Park.
On July 31, the Loose Cannons, an ensemble of the Army Ground Forces Band, will perform at downtown’s favorite music venue. The Loose Cannons have performed for deployed troops during Operation Iraqi Freedom, but the ensemble’s incredible skill and energy put them right at home in any venue. “The Loose Cannons are our more rock/pop group. They perform the newer songs, more like the top 40 of the last five years, but they are also very versatile and if they get requests they can do that,” Kim said. The group also performs country, R&B, and Hip Hop.
On August 14, the Jazz Guardians will perform at Festival Park. As the name suggests, this amazing group of musicians has a special interest in promoting and preserving Jazz. They perform the works of many of the great classic Jazz musicians,and have been featured in Jazz Festivals across the nation. “The Jazz Guardians are more of our big band set. They can cover everything from all of the jazz legends and big band songs from the early 40s like Glenn Miller and other pre World War II artists to modern big band songs of today. They are very versatile and perform from Jazz to Funk, but stop just a little before pop,” said Kim.
August 28 is the concert series finale and the Army Ground Forces Concert Band will perform. This is one of the largest and best groups the Army has to offer. It has received the Col. George S. Howard Citation of Musical Excellence for Military Concert Bands twice and has performed in notable halls across the nation. The band’s performances include varied contemporary and classical pieces. It includes “everything from orchestral transcriptions, marches, instrumental and vocal solos to popular tunes and patriotic music.”
The passion that these men and women have for their craft is what truly makes these performances incredible. Every performance is overflowing with energy and excitement that inevitably spills into the crowd. Kim expresses his own excitement for being part of the Army Ground Forces Band by saying, “As my predecessor said, this is the best job in the Army, truly. These people are soldiers who just happen to be world-class musicians. They come into the Army with these skills and then use them on behalf of the Army. But probably the best part would be working with these amazing soldiers daily to communicate the Army message.”
The Loose Cannons perform on July 31 and the Jazz Guardians perform on August 14. The series finale takes place on August 28. All of the performances are at 7 p.m. in Festival Park and are part of the Summer Concert Series. For more information on the band visit http://www.forscom.army.mil/band/default.htm. Festival Park is located at 225 Ray Ave.