June 17, 2010

29th Division Band to play summer concert series

By Sgt. Andrew H. Owen
Virginia Guard Public Affairs

RICHMOND, Va.—Soldiers of an instrumental unit in the Virginia Army National Guard will begin their annual summer concert series June 25 at Merchant’s Square in Williamsburg and will continue the tour across the commonwealth at seven other locations this summer.


The 29th Division Band performs music for Gov. McDonnel's Inauguration Jan. 17 in Richmond. (Photo by Maj. Cotton Puryear, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

The 29th Division Band will have approximately 40 Soldiers on duty performing the concerts as part of their two-week annual training, according to Sgt. 1st Class Richard Carr, French horn player in the band. Most of the Soldiers will perform in the concert band, but other members will participate in smaller ensembles such as, jazz combo, rock combo and brass quintets.

The schedule differs this year from past concert dates. In the past, the band had concerts every other day and was forced to cram in rehearsal between shows. This year the band will have a full week of rehearsal time to prepare in advance, and work out any kinks before the series begins, according to Staff Sgt. James Bradshaw, a band member and assistant principal at Glenvar Middle School in Salem, Va.

The summer concert series provides a unique opportunity for the Virginia Guard to interact with the communities in which it serves and is a way to boost recruiting in those same communities.


29th Division Band Summer Concert Schedule

  • June 25 - Concert in Merchants Square Williamsburg.
  • June 27 - Concert on the Lawn at James Madison University.
  • June 28 - Concert for the Performing Arts in Covington.
  • June 30- Concert at the Elks Lodge in Fairfax.
  • July 1- Concert in Manassas.
  • July 3- Concert in Front Royal.
  • July 4- July 4th Concert in Lexington.
  • July 5- Concert in Staunton.

“It allows the community to come together for a fun and entertaining evening where the audience can appreciate the hard work being done by the men and women in uniform,” said Bradshaw. “It gives the guard a way to be seen and thank the community.”

“The summer concert series is important to me as a Guardsman because I am able to showcase my talent along with other members of the unit, to thank the community for all their support and dedication to the military,” he said. It bridges the gap between the community, the average citizen and the men and women serving our country.”

In addition to playing music and entertaining the attendees, the band will also be honoring 17 students from around the state who have won their band’s John Phillips Sousa Award this year, according to Carr.

The John Phillip Sousa Award is the pinnacle of achievement for high school band members and is presented by high school band directors. It was created in 1995 to honor the top student in a high school band.

The 29th Division Band began in 1922 in Roanoke as part of the 116th Infantry Brigade Service Company, but was federalized in October 1943 as part of the 29th Infantry Division. Members of the band assisted the assault on Omaha Beach. Throughout World War II the band saw action in four European campaigns, according to their website

Recently the band played at the 66th Anniversary of D-Day at the D-Day Memorial in Bedford and was led by Ralph Shank through two songs. Shanks was the commander of the band when they landed in France in June 1944.

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