July 12 , 2010

29th Division Band treats Virginia with summer concert series

By Staff Sgt. Andrew H. Owen
Virginia Guard Public Affairs

WILLIAMSBURG, Va.—The Petersburg-based 29th Division Band wrapped up their summer concert series July 5 in Staunton after kicking off their two-week annual training with a concert in Colonial Williamsburg June 25. More than 650 people attended the outdoor concert in Merchant’s Square that marked the beginning of the annual series where the Soldiers traveled across the commonwealth providing entertainment to the citizens of Virginia by playing free concerts open to the public.


The 29th Division Band trumpet section plays a number for the crowd at Merchant's Square in Williamsburg, Va. during their annual training June 25. The Soldiers spent two weeks playing different venues across the commonwealth. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew H. Owen, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

“In this particular venue, in Colonial Williamsburg, the (DeWitt) Wallace Museum is having their 25th anniversary and they invited groups to come out and perform,” said Warrant Officer Donald Carlson, commander of the 29th Division Band. “They asked us if we would come and do this, so we were more than happy to do that.”

The evening began with a performance by the unit’s four man rock-ensemble, Raising Cain. The rock band played several covers originally performed by a wide range of rock influenced artists, such as Johnny Cash, Tom Petty and Three Doors Down.

Following the rock band, the concert band played numerous marching tunes, several big band hits and even a few Broadway-inspired numbers with special guest vocalist Melissa Carter, wife of band member Sgt. Shawn Carter. The band also brought out their brass quartet for a few songs.

For the Soldiers of a National Guard band, the two-week annual training can be very different than training schedules of their active duty counterparts who have the opportunity to train year-round for their missions. The band’s missions may also differ from other traditional Guard units that train for missions overseas and homeland defense roles.

“For us the difference is that other units when they’re stateside, they’re constantly training for their mission,” said Carlson. “For us, we’re training and doing missions, and we do a lot of missions.”

“Our annual training basically gives us the opportunity to put together a rock band, a jazz band, a concert band and deploy them. Go out one day to the mission and come back, and we set up a whole two weeks of that.”

During the concert, 1st Sgt. Fred Lewis emphasized the importance of the National Guard and their dual status as Citizen-Soldiers and how the band affects the community while being members of the community simultaneously.

“We’re part time musicians and Soldiers,” said Lewis. “We have quite a wide array of professions. We have a doctor of pharmacology; we have an assistant principal; we have truck drivers; we have waitresses. You name it, we have it probably.”

“We do a lot of different things, but during these two weeks we’re Soldiers and musicians and we represent the29th Infantry Division and the Virginia National Guard.”

The historical division band proved that they are a supporting factor in the community during the concert and that they will continue to support the citizens of Virginia as they continue the series across the commonwealth.

“It’s important for us to support the community because that shows them that we care about them, just like they’re showing us support when the troops are overseas,” said Staff Sgt. Jim Bradshaw, trombone section leader. “This is kind of our way of thanking them for supporting our entire military service.”

“It’s good because it gives the community a chance to see another side of the military. That we are out there for the people.”

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