- A Message from the Commanding Officer
- Concerts at the Capitol
- What's popular on the blog
- Navy Band's annual Silent Auction raises money for NMCRS
- Coming to the Navy birthday or Holiday concert this year? New e-ticket procedures announced!
- Spotlight on...Musician 1st Class Joseph M. Friedman
A Message from the Commanding Officer
As summer continues, it is time again to celebrate the birthday of our great nation. This year, the U.S. Navy Band performs at the Netherlands Carillon, a bell tower which was a gift from the people of the Netherlands to the people of the United States as a thank you for aiding their country during and after World War II. Located near Arlington National Cemetery and the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial, this amazing bell tower will be the backdrop for our annual Independence Day celebration concert and I invite you to come out and join us.
On behalf of the men and women of the Navy Band, I want to thank and congratulate Lt. Cmdr. Richard Bailey, executive officer of the Navy Band, on the occasion of his retirement from active duty after 28 years of service. The band is grateful for his steadfast service as interim commanding officer in addition to his conducting and executive skills. Rick’s dedication to duty greatly impacted the Navy music program and the Navy Band in a positive manner. I wish him fair winds and following seas as he begins a new chapter of life.
We have scheduled many performances by our ensembles at locations all around the region this summer and I would like to mention the Concerts at the Capitol, our Monday night concerts performed on the west side of the U.S. Capitol building and the Concerts on the Avenue, our Tuesday night concerts performed at the U.S. Navy Memorial. It is our pleasure and privilege to bring these concerts to you and we hope you will come out and enjoy the music.
Concerts at the Capitol
by Musician 1st Class Ken R. Fennell
This summer marks the 89th year that the U.S. Navy Band will perform outdoor concerts at the U.S. Capitol. With the steps on the west side of the Capitol acting as seats for the audience, and one of the most famous buildings in the world as a backdrop, these concerts offer not only great music by the Navy’s premier musical organization, but a stunning sunset view over the National Mall. In 1919, Chief Musician Charles Benter, the leader of the Navy Yard Band, was directed by the Department of the Navy to put together a band that would “superbly represent the United States Navy.” Due in part to a mass exodus of men from the armed forces after World War I, the Navy Yard Band consisted of only 19 musicians. It was a difficult task to hire enough men to fill the quota of 30 required by the Navy. By 1922, with the band fully manned, the Department of the Navy started referring to the Navy Yard Band as the Navy Band, and tasked Benter with finding appropriate venues for band performances. Funding was a major issue in the early 1920s, so the venue had to be cost effective and also a place that would propel the band into the public eye. Benter initiated a free concert series at the U.S. Capitol in 1922 and the U.S. Navy Band has played there ever since. Ultimately, in 1925, through an act of Congress signed by President Calvin Coolidge, the band would officially become the United States Navy Band.
The U.S. Navy Band has come a long way from those early days, but one thing remains the same, and that is the band’s commitment to “superbly represent the United States Navy.” Come out and see us at the U.S. Capitol this summer.
What's popular on the blog
My Experience in Higher Education
by Musician 1st Class Tony Halloin
“The first day of the exam, each student is given 10 pages, each from a different piece of music potentially ranging from the year 900 to present. Each page is taken from a musical score and is without a title or composer. The examinee must address, in essay form, elements of the piece regarding texture, form, instrumentation, harmony, rhythm, melody and text (if any). While examining these aspects, the exam-taker must make an educated guess as to what type of piece the excerpt is from, what time period the piece is from (give or take 20 years) and who the composer might be.”
Fenway Park: Behind the Scenes
by Musician 1st Class David Babich
“Making our way to our special ballpark parking, the buses are forced to maneuver through crowds of Boston fans, who are spilling out from the bars next to Fenway. Many of them mistook our buses for the Yankees buses, and were kind enough to raise signs in our direction that politely communicated their respect for the “Bronx Bombers.” Little did they know that behind the tinted windows lurked the U.S. Navy Band.”
Remembering Inauguration 2009
by Musician 1st Class Adam Grimm
“Most of the band members were required to sleep at the building the previous night, due to city streets surrounding the Washington Navy Yard being closed for security purposes. I was living within walking distance of the building at that time, so I was exempted from participation in the great Navy Band slumber party of 2009.” Visit usnavyband.blogspot.com for the complete articles and to read more like them.
Navy Band's annual Silent Auction raises money for NMCRS
by Master Chief Musician Aaron Porter
For the fourth year in a row, the Navy Band’s Silent Auction raised money for the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society by auctioning off goods and services, many provided by band members. This year’s auction, as in previous years, was held at the Washington Navy Yard Town Center on May 10 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Cruisers, the Navy Band’s popular music ensemble, provided entertainment to the lunch-time crowd.
As in years past, many diverse and interesting items were offered to the highest bidders, including performances by Tobago Bay (a Calypso band) and Anchor Sisters (1940s-style swing female vocal quartet); lessons on golf, juggling and yo-yo, as well as instruction on several musical instruments and voice; home-brewed beer; homemade jams, sausage and baked goods; and, of course, the opportunity to conduct the Navy Concert Band at a public concert. All but two items sold, and the total raised was $2,224.98.
All the details for this year’s auction were coordinated by Musician 1st Class Andy Skaggs, who took over from Chief Musician Trent Turner. Skaggs said at the conclusion of the event, “The auction atmosphere was great, everyone had a good time, and the mood set by the Cruisers was perfect.” fanfare extends a well-earned “Bravo Zulu” to Skaggs for his first cruise at the helm of this event. The entire band is already looking forward to next year’s auction.
The auction proceeds go directly to the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, which has impacted the lives of Sailors and Marines for over 100 years. It is a private, non-profit organization sponsored by the Department of the Navy with over 250 locations worldwide. In addition to offering interest-free loans, grants and scholarships, they provide visiting nurse services, “seabags” for infants, thrift shops and budget counseling and food lockers in some locations. The NMCRS office on the Washington Navy Yard is located at 1001 N Street SE, Bldg. 208, Suite 100, serving Sailors and Marines Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Coming to the Navy birthday or Holiday concert this year? New e-ticket procedures announced!
I f you are planning to attend our Navy birthday and holiday concerts this year, there’s no need to send us a self-addressed, stamped envelope. You read that right; in a break with a long-held tradition, we are moving into the 21st century, and providing our concert patrons with electronic tickets. Sign-up procedures will be simple: a link on our website will direct you to a site where you can request up to four tickets per request, and an email will automatically be sent to you, confirming your reservation. Because seating at DAR Constitution Hall is open, there’s no need for a physical ticket with a seat number. As always, arriving early will assure the best seats. Hold on...before you go to our website, you can’t order tickets just yet. These procedures won’t be in place until late summer. This is just our way of giving our fanfare subscribers a “heads up” that they’re on the way. Keep an eye out on our website for the announcement; it will be posted in plenty of time to make sure you get your tickets.
We’re looking forward to these special concerts, and also to instituting our new e-ticket system. We hope to see you at Constitution Hall this fall and winter for these special concerts!
Spotlight on...Musician 1st Class Joseph M. Friedman
by Senior Chief Musician Juan Vazquez
Country Current’s newest guitarist, Musician 1st Class Joe Friedman, brings a wealth of talent to the band. His diverse experiences on Broadway and as a studio musician are great assets to Country Current and the entire band.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I grew up in St. Louis, Mo., which is a town with a lot of great blues, jazz and country music. I attended the Interlochen School for the Arts for my early musical training. In college I was a double major receiving a bachelor’s degree in music from the Oberlin Conservatory and a bachelor’s degree in history from Oberlin College. Following graduation I moved to New York City, spending 10 years there as a freelance musician. I had known about the Navy Music Program ever since college, but I also knew how difficult it was to get the job. When I read in the (American Federation of Musicians) Local 802 newsletter that there was a spot available in the Navy’s country/bluegrass band, I was determined to get the gig. When I came to my audition everyone was extremely nice to me, but for a civilian to perform in front of all those officers and enlisted personnel in uniform was quite intimidating! The caliber of the musicians in the band was amazing and I was so flattered when they offered me the job.
Tell us about your experiences in New York.
I came to New York City to “make it” as a jazz guitar player. My dream was to play guitar in the style of George Benson. After a few years of playing jazz in clubs and teaching a LOT of music lessons I started to get frustrated and wondered where all this was going. It was about that time that I received a request to audition as a guitarist/actor/singer for an off-Broadway rock musical. I figured it was worth a shot, so I auditioned and was hired on the basis of my guitar playing (they later hired a real actor to cover the acting and singing portion). Suddenly, I was working every night and making more money than I had ever made. Playing rock guitar was new to me, but it was exciting. At the same time I ran into an old buddy from high school who was now a pop music producer. He offered to pay me a small salary to be on his staff at his music studio to write and record for his artists. Through that connection I started getting hired as a studio musician. It became clear to me that playing a variety of guitar styles and being open to new experiences was a bankable commodity in the music world.
During my time in New York I performed on several shows, such as the “The Lion King,” “Grease” and “The Full Monty.” I had the opportunity to perform on recordings for numerous artists including Katy Perry, Fergie, Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Jordin Sparks, David Archuleta, Lady Antebellum, the Backstreet Boys, Miley Cyrus and Taylor Swift. I also performed on the Disney High School Musical album and on the Michael Jackson anniversary compilation!
Ultimately I did get the chance to tour with some major jazz artists such as Fred Wesley, Javon Jackson, Ruth Brown, Freda Payne and Bobby Caldwell – but my favorite gig was with the legendary diva, Eartha Kitt. I spent the last five years of my time in New York touring and recording with Eartha Kitt until she passed away in 2008. She was an amazing artist, a great boss and I miss her a lot!
After Eartha passed away I heard about the opening with Country Current and even though I didn’t have much experience with country music, I was intrigued by the challenge of something new and open to a different musical experience. It has been awesome to have all these amazing country/bluegrass musicians around to teach and inspire me.
What are you currently working towards?
Since I have joined the Navy Band, I have been obsessed with country music improvising, commonly known as "chicken pickin", and bluegrass acoustic guitar. There is a deep tradition, language, and a totally different guitar technique required to play these styles. For the electric guitar you have to learn how to "hybrid" pick using your pick and plucking with your middle finger. With the acoustic guitar, you need to learn how to bring out the beautiful acoustic open string qualities of the instrument while projecting through an acoustic bass, banjo and mandolin. As a freelance musician I never had the time or the access to the right equipment to improve in these styles.
How does the atmosphere here in Washington compare to New York City, St. Louis or the Midwest in general?
There is nothing in the world like the New York music scene. It is extremely intense and competitive, and sometimes can be quite scary. I felt I had accomplished enough in New York to say that I had given it my best and experienced much of what I had gone there to do. The music scene in Washington is much of what can be expected of a town that doesn't rely on the entertainment industry to pay the bills. There are some killer musicians here, but it is a small scene with a more familial atmosphere. My hometown of St. Louis was the same way. All the musicians knew each other and even though some were more advanced than others - we all played together! I can appreciate that because I didn't like the animosity between musicians in New York. Being a military musician requires you to have a more rounded vision of yourself and your place in the scheme of things. I truly enjoy that part of the job.
What do you enjoy doing when not working?
Well, that is a tough question for me, because I spend so much time working on music. I guess that I am trying to learn how to cook. In another life I would have loved to pursue this – it’s a lot like music – a symphony in chicken!