|Yanik demonstrating some... decent... form|
Some of us used our time off to take a day trip into North Dakota, fulfilling a lifelong ambition to visit all of the continental 48 states. I took the chance to hit the links with some shipmates, Musicians 1st Class Jonathan Yanik and Dana Booher. We rented clubs and played at Rolling Hills Golf Club, though it may be worth noting that the term "rolling hills" seems to mean something different in Aberdeen than it does in the Washington, D.C., area. Yanik and Booher were locked in a surprisingly contentious competition for second, leaving me glad that we only played nine holes. (Ed. note: I find it hard to believe that two saxophone players would be losing to an, ahem, clarinetist. -AKG)
Given the rare opportunity to spend our evening away from the concert stage, a contingent of us ventured out to find a way to express our musicianship through a different medium... karaoke! Of course, as visitors we weren’t familiar with the local scene. Thankfully, Musician 1st Class Renee DeBoer found the perfect place! The State Street Pub and Laundromat was the ideal establishment. If the name confuses you a bit, don’t worry, we were a bit thrown off as well. Follow the door in the back of the laundromat, and you find yourself transported to the night life of Aberdeen.
By the time the night was in full swing, there was a healthy mix of Navy Band personnel and regular patrons. As you might imagine, we took to the songbooks like fish to water. How fortunate we were to have Chief Musician Courtney Williams on hand to simply stun the audience with his talents, particularly his surprisingly low voice on “Ring of Fire” and “16 Tons.” It was a great opportunity to let loose and render a proper fairwell to Aberdeen. With the washers and dryers humming away in the front room, our only regret was that we didn’t think to bring our laundry!
Difficult as it may have been to leave Aberdeen, we were by no means leaving South Dakota. Our concert the following evening in the Watertown Civic Arena was well received by an animated audience and led expertly by our enlistened conductor, Senior Chief Musician Michael Schmitz. With one day left in South Dakota, and a continuous series of concerts ahead of us, we are nearing the final leg of tour.
Musicians 1st Class Lauren Cook and Will Kelly also contributed to this article.