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THE UNITED STATES ARMY FIELD BAND
 FORT MEADE, MARYLAND -

With a man down, The Volunteers still rock the second annual Prince George’s County Music Day

By Jonathan E. Agee
The United States Army Field Band

News story photo
Photo credit: Jonathan E. Agee
Sgt. 1st Class April Boucher, The Volunteers’ vocalist, goes into the crowd to perform during the second annual Prince George’s County Music Day, May 20. Boucher hopes that The Volunteers will inspire the music students to keep learning and practicing music so that they too can one day have a career in music.
FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. — It was no surprise to hear that The Volunteers were invited to Six Flags America on May 20 to perform for roughly 1,600 Prince George’s County music students during the county’s second annual Music Day.

What was surprising is that they did it without one of their lead singers.

Staff Sgt. Randy Wight, male vocalist, had to sit this performance out while he recovered from an injury suffered during the spring tour. And although The Volunteers missed Wight’s presence, they did what they always do – rock the house!

“We miss Staff Sgt. Wight on stage and we hope he gets better real soon, but you know the show must go on,” said Sgt. 1st Class Peter Krasulski, electric bass. “We had a solid performance. Sgt. Boucher [Sgt. 1st Class April Boucher, female vocalist] delivered 110 percent as she always does on stage and it was just a great show.”

For guitarist Sgt. 1st Class Tom Lindsey, the lack of Wight left a feeling of uncertainty as they performed. “It almost made us a little unsure of what to play, but we pulled it off,” said Lindsey. “We approached it with having a lot more fun and not trying to let it bother us that we had someone gone. Like a sports team, no one is a star player; we all work as a team and it comes together nicely. If one of us is missing we’re still going to put out 100 percent.”

And put out 100 percent is exactly what The Volunteers did. From the moment they took the stage at Six Flags the group gave all they had. They performed many songs including, “The Pretender” by the Foo Fighters, “Brick by Boring Brick” by Paramore and “Raise Your Glass” by Pink.

If the songs sound new, that’s because they are. When The Volunteers planned their spring tour in April, they decided to completely revamp their playlist. They wanted to include songs that were not only new, but currently being played on the radio.

“I think that playing more music that is relevant, and by relevant I mean music that is being played on the radio now, I think that helps,” said Staff Sgt. Glenn Robertson. “And I think the way we are structuring our shows where the music does not stop … We are just awing them. First off, on the fact that the Army does have a band like this that can pull this stuff off, and second just the whole presentation. We hit’em and they are shocked by what is going on, and then they get comfortable with it and realize that you’re supposed to have a good time.”

And so far, the feedback has been phenomenal. From an increase in positive social media feedback to handwritten thank you letters, The Volunteers have really found their niche when it comes to reaching their target audience.

While performing for the Prince George’s County music students, it was apparent that the kids were having a great time and enjoying the new tunes they were hearing.

“I saw a lot of kids clapping along, dancing,” said Lindsey. “If you study one or two kids and are not scanning the audience, you can see them singing the songs, which is really cool. They definitely knew the tunes, even the parents and teachers were getting into it.”

For some of the students the experience was more than just a good time. Mariela Quijada, 5th grader and Beltsville Academy flute player, said the performance inspired her. “I want to grow up to be a musician,” said Quijada. “My favorite part was when the Army Band played and I knew some of the songs there, and it was cool.”

Lionel Harrell, Beltsville Academy band teacher, believes music is an outlet where children can express themselves and be proud of what they are doing. Harrell added that having The Volunteers perform may inspire the students to follow their dreams.

“We invite military groups out to perform to see what it is like to perform in a high-caliber group,” said Harrell. “They will leave here and think it is cool and be really excited about seeing other musicians playing the instruments that they are starting out on, and it will inspire some if they were not practicing a lot to try to get into the instrument a little more. It gives them an opportunity to see what could be if they choose to pursue a musical career.”

More than 100 days out of the year, The Volunteers are entertaining audiences worldwide while telling the Army Story and sharing experiences with the American public. For those who have never seen The Volunteers perform, Sgt. Maj. Kirk Kadish, group leader, explains what to expect.

“You’re gonna have a blast,” said Kadish. “We will inspire, we will entertain and we will educate. I think pretty much in that order. We will inspire you first, then for sure we will try to entertain you, and if we educate you with a couple of tunes that you have not heard before or open your eyes on the broader perspective of the military and the Army, well then great, we’ve hit a home run, knocked it out of the park.”

The Volunteers are gearing up for an exciting summer. To see the latest schedule and find out when The Volunteers will be in your area, visit www.ArmyFieldBand.com and click the schedule link at the top of the page.

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