HCC Alumni Association opens 15th annual Red, White and Blue Summer Concert Series
The Hagerstown Community College Alumni Association will launch its 15th annual Red, White and Blue Summer Concert Series this weekend in HCC’s Alumni Amphitheater.
The concert series was started in 2004 as a way to utilize the venue more, according to Wayne Taylor, vice president of the HCC Alumni Association Amphitheater.
“Someone suggested military bands and since I am a retired Air Force Colonel they asked me to look into it,” Taylor said. “We started in the summer of 2004 with five bands and we have had over 110 bands in the 15 years of concerts.”
This year the concert series will feature eight bands.
“We have a mixture of bands that play all kinds of music from country, to blues, jazz, popular and concert type music,” Taylor said.
The U.S. Navy Country Current will kick off the concert series this Sunday. The seven-member country-bluegrass ensemble formed in 1973 under the leadership of banjo player Bill Emerson. Currently, Christina Catalanotto and Daniel Stewart direct the group.
“We play country music and some bluegrass music. Audiences usually like our patriotic selections,” said Senior Chief Musician Patrick White.
The band tours the United States each year in support of Navy recruiting. They have performed alongside a host of country artists including Brooks and Dunn, Charlie Daniels, Vince Gill, Toby Keith, Alison Krauss, Boots Randolph, the Statler Brothers, and others.
White, the unit leader of the “Country Current,” has been a member of the band since 1995. He plays violin, mandolin and sings.
“Audiences usually don’t expect us to be as tight as we are. They often compare us to professional bands of Nashville,” White said.
He said the band plays an American form of music for a wide array of foreign dignitaries on protocol performances.
“It’s an honor to represent our Navy musically,” White said.
The “Country Current” is just one of the four Navy bands performing in this year’s concert series. The other bands include: The United States Navy Sea Chanters, The United States Navy Fleet Force Band and The United States Navy Commodores.
Senior Chief Musician Melissa Bishop, Deputy Public Affairs Officer for the U.S. Navy Band Public Affairs Office, said the Navy has 11 bands with widely varying missions, from direct support of the president of the United States, to public outreach, diplomacy, ceremonies and recruiting.
“Here at home, we help educate Americans about the importance of naval service. Overseas, we’re helping to expand and strengthen our Navy’s network of partners through our musical diplomacy. Our public concerts are entertaining and family-friendly with a wide variety of music. We also take an opportunity during every performance to honor veterans. It’s important for us to come together with communities to celebrate the service of those who built the great Navy we have today. The U.S. Navy Band is the Navy’s premier musical organization, representing more than 320,000 active-duty Sailors, as well as the Navy’s reserve and civilian forces,” Bishop said.
She said all members of the U.S. Navy Band are active duty. There are 174 enlisted musicians in the Navy Band, led by four officers.
“Sailors in the Navy Band are full-time professional musicians,” Bishop said.
“As a military organization, the Navy Band’s mission is taxpayer-funded.”
On July 28, The United States Navy Sea Chanters will take the amphitheater stage. Musician 1st Class Amy Nicole Broadbent, a soprano vocalist with the “Sea Chanters Chorus” said the band performs all kinds of music.
“We often say there is something for everyone in our concerts, and this also showcases the diverse backgrounds of all of our musicians, whether they originally trained in musical theater, classical music, jazz, choral, chamber music... or all of the above, whatever the case may be. We all work together to make an exciting musical product,” Broadbent said.
This summer, she said the band is debuting a medley featuring “hits of the decades” that she compiled and arranged with her colleague, Musician 1st Class David Agee.
“We took a lot of time picking songs that were iconic from each decade, and thinking about what songs might resonate best with audience members, especially if they grew up in that particular decade,” Broadbent said.
She added that they will perform songs by artists from Elvis to Billy Joel to Miley Cyrus.
While she describes most of the music the band plays as just plain fun, she added that all of their shows end with a patriotic tribute to service members.
“Veterans are very grateful and proud to hear their service songs performed, and to have the opportunity to stand and be recognized during their particular branch’s song,” Broadbent said.
Other bands featured in the concert series include: “The United States PA-ANG Band of the Northeast,” “The United States Army Blues Band,” “The United States 229th Army Band,” and “The United States 257th Army Band.”
All concerts in the Red, White, and Blue Summer Concert Series are free and open to the general public.
Taylor said anywhere from 200 to 800 people attend each concert depending on the weather.
“We have 686 seats with arms and backs terraced for perfect views of the stage and a lot of people bring lawn chairs and sit in the grassy areas beside the seats,” Taylor said.
All concerts will be held at 6:15 p.m. in HCC’s Alumni Amphitheater. Concerts are subject to change by the U.S. Military. No outside food is permitted on the amphitheater grounds but concessions will be available for purchase.
This year’s concert series is sponsored by the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau, Korean War Veterans Association Chapter 312, Joint Veterans Council, Amvets Riders Chapter 10, and Forty & Eight Voiture 651. For more information and weather updates, email email@example.com or call 240-500-2346.
Top photo: In this March photo, Musician 1st Class Amy Broadbent, from Rockville, Md., performs with the U.S. Navy Band Sea Chanters chorus at the Charles W. Eisemann Center for the Performing Arts in Richardson, Texas. The group performed in 18 cities in nine states, connecting Americans to their Navy. (Courtesy of U.S. Navy)