As I sit on my last C-130 flight for this tour, I couldn't help but want to reflect a little as we approach this final week. Did it go fast? At this point, not really. It felt like 3 months of ups and downs, great music, memories, challenges and the upmost amount of patience and fluidity. Also, factoring in that this band has been together for about a year, reminded me that playing with these guys has been a really great time. We've pushed each other musically and emotionally, and I'm thankful for that.
Something I've been thinking about recently looking back, is just how much I've learned about the people of the Air Force. Getting to hang and play for people with many different jobs from drone operators, firefighters, EOD, to other coalition forces from around the world. As a military musician, specifically in the Air Force bands back home, we always try to be the face of the Air Force, and "represent" the members of the Air Force and our other military branches, through public affairs outreach. Out of a 60 member band unit, only a select handful of people get to participate in a deployment like I have. I now know even more just how important the band mission is, and have seen first hand those faces that we hope to represent well though music. It is unfortunate for the musicians who will never get to experience what I now think is probably the most important mission you can accomplish as a military musician. One of my favorite quotes from our time in Afghanistan was after a performance, someone from the audience said to me, "It is not everyday you see Afghan military members and leaders smiling and bobbing their heads to American pop music, along side our American service members." Now THAT is making a difference much greater than I can even grasp, in a way that only music can.
A particular gig to mention as of lately was with our Jazz combo at the nearby American School of Doha. We were able to collaborate with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Doha musicians for this one, sharing a set with them and even having a little jam at the end! These are world class jazz musicians from NYC that rotate through the club in Doha for a few months at a time. It was amazing to play and work with them as well as a few talented students from the American School. Definitely one of the highlights!
At this point, the next band has arrived! Max Impact from Washington, DC. It has been fun hanging out and playing with some new faces and getting to know them. They will surely continue what we have built over these last three months in a great way and I could not be happier to "pass the torch" to them. Bittersweet for sure! I hope all who have been following my journey enjoyed the insight of life "on the road" with me. It has been quite therapeutic sharing my thoughts, pictures and stories with you. Time to head home! Until next time, Aim high...