Army band plays to soothe

By Nicole Barbano/staff
News Leader

News story photo
Some members of the 29th Army Band are seen at Fort Sill, Okla.
STAUNTON — It isn't every day that Fred Lewis gets to dig through the Army Band's sheet music library in Fort Myer. But when the acting commander of the 29th Army Band was informed he and his unit would be performing a series of holiday concerts for the families of deployed soldiers, Lewis knew he was going to have to add some new selections to the repertoire.

"We don't normally do this sort of thing," Lewis said. "It's going to be all holiday music — a mixture of pop, a couple of standards, a couple of traditional concert-band pieces."

Lewis said the band, which is based out of Roanoke and is part of the 91st Troop Command based out of Richmond, runs the gamut when it comes to where they play. From funerals and memorial services to entertaining the troops, they do it all he said.

But their performance in Staunton this Wednesday, although different from the ones they have done before, will still have its roots in the band's tradition of bringing comfort to those listening.

"We're a morale and support type unit and what we're supposed to do is go out there and make people feel good," Lewis said.

In addition to the 29th's performance, festivities during the holiday celebration will include a visit from Santa, refreshments, crafts and an opportunity for family members attending to send video messages overseas to their loved ones.

"The event is really just to let the families know they're not alone." said Lewis. "It's kind of tough being a family in the military."


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