Old Ironsides Band

Playing Music Together in Germany – T ist hinter die kleines Mädchen und ich bin am der recht.
Unser Freund Willie Driffin ist der Tenorsaxophonist.

A former colleague of ours from our days in Germany in the late 1970s sent these recordings of our Army band back then performing in several contexts.

This colleague, Bruce Shockley is a fantastic musician and still performs professionally.

The included photographs in this post that are not taken by me or T are primarily from the personal archives of two other former colleagues, Bob Levitsky and Dan Flake.

GERMANY TOUR YEARS: 1976-1980

What is interesting for us today is to now look back at those days and realize 1977 was only 32 years after the end of World War II, the Cold War was still a thing, and our job with the military was to go around playing music to spread goodwill.

Ansbach, Germany

To get a contextual idea of what contemporary life for us in Germany during those years was like visit the House of the History of the Federal Republic of Germany website at https://www.hdg.de/ 

We thought our children and grandchildren might find it interesting to listen to us performing music when we first met (and before we were married in 1979).

We were also just 21-year-old performing artists and gaining experience.

Although we were playing 250 to 300+ concerts and ceremonies each year by then, we were still new professionals.

Working that much builds chops and perspective.

We are seated in the front “jump seats” of our tour bus.

The first two recordings are from a partnership concert and are representative of what the concert band sounded like. In addition to ceremonial music, it also demonstrates the type of music we most often played for German civilian audiences or important functions. T plays flute and I play alto saxophone on these recordings.

1977 Partnership Concert “Fanfare” 1st Armored Division “Old Ironsides” Band
1977 Partnership Concert “Medley” 1st Armored Division “Old Ironsides” Band
Rendering a questionable impression of the great Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong.
1978 “Hello Dolly” 1st Armored Division “Old Ironsides” Band featuring Charlie Heintz on soprano sax.

On the road again …

The 1st AD Jazz Band files that follow are live recordings from a concert we performed in a gymnasium for the Department of Defense (DoD) high school students of the Ansbach US military community

We played everywhere from historical concert halls to outdoor concerts for combat arms specialty troops on maneuver training out in the woods. And events that included most everything in between those two…

1st Armored Division “Old Ironsides” Band performing an impromptu concert somewhere in Europe.
“Corazon” from the Woody Herman band’s library.
“Dvorak’s Theme” by Sammy Nestico.

The song titled “Corazon” is from the Woody Herman band’s library.

It also documents the first ever improvised jazz solo that I took with the jazz band in Germany.

The second song is an adaptation by the famous arranger, composer and former military musician Sammy Nestico titled “Dvorak’s Theme.” 

Marcus Hampton is the trumpet improviser. 

Two great friends and mentors: Marcus Hampton (trumpet) and Willie Driffin (tenor saxophone)

I don’t remember why the rhythm section is only guitar, bass and drums on these tracks though. 

We could have been between the band having replacement players assigned to us to fill for those who left to go home to the USA.

We performed so many gigs. Literally hundreds each year.

“Love is a better teacher than duty.”
– Albert Einstein

 At more than one point during our tour, 

we worked several months straight, 

then had a few days to pay bills 

and take uniforms to the dry cleaners

before we were off traveling again. 

We found out that we truly loved music.

Senior Enlisted Leadership: Sergeant First Class Charlie Heintz and First Sergeant Billy Patterson.
Top’s remarks during a gig somewhere…
*First photograph is a drone aerial 
photograph of Bleidorn Kaserne
taken in 2019 (courtesy of YouTube).

Of legacies and such things…

The little guy at the piano in the featured image of this post is our youngest grandson.

Like all of our children and grandchildren, he’s very “musical.”

But, there’s something special about him that makes me think he’s our next musician among our progeny and could likely help carry music into future generations.

He sings and hums to himself while doing most any task.

He moves to music when it’s being played on television or in real-time by someone on a musical instrument.

*Playing music unsolicited…

Whereas most people don’t hear the music that is going on around them like the underscore of movies, I’ve noticed that this little guy genuinely notices all musical notes – even those found in everyday things like the sound of a glass “clinking.”

He also actually matches pitch pretty well too!

It seems music is a natural consideration for him. I think he’s “our next musician.”

Both, T and I remember being like that too…

*This is our daughter’s IG that inspired this BurnettFamilyUS.org blog !

Letting them choose…

When our children were born we decided that they both would be required to learn a musical instrument. First the piano and then a band instrument which they would be required to play throughout middle and high school.

Our reasoning was sound because learning a musical instrument develops the brain in ways other subjects and activities do not. That was our primary agenda.

And people who know music in an applied context always seem to be more well-rounded than those who do not. I think it’s because they learned how to create art.

*T in the recording studio playing flute for the “Standards Vol. 1” project.

Both, our son and daughter were brilliant young musicians.

They were always among the best musicians of their generation and neither really worked too hard at it beyond playing at school or occasionally playing with us at home.

We really hoped they’d ultimately choose music like we did, and take it further.

Neither did. It wasn’t their “thing.” Although I believe either our son or daughter could have been successful as working professional performing artists and musicians.

*Recording “Standards Vol. 1” …

Another true story…

Our daughter hadn’t played her flute for at least 10 years when we were visiting her at her family’s home one year and brought our flutes with us.

We pulled out some flute trio music and asked her to play.

She literally had to dig around the long-term storage spaces of her house for about thirty minutes before she finally found her flute.

When she found it we spent the next couple of hours playing trios and our daughter made less mistakes than I did. Brilliant!

I guess it really is “like riding a bike” …
Music Is Life Is Music

I have told both of our children half-jokingly that we could have “made” them into musicians if we had wanted to do so and they would not have been aware we did it.

It’s sort of like the sports parents who get their kid a personal trainer in preschool.

We could have literally turned them into phenomenal musicians without their consent.

And we could have steered them into a career in the music industry as well.

We didn’t want to do that because we think being an artist is largely a choice.

Instead we took the path of teaching them applied music to a high level and then letting them choose whether to pursue it further from an informed perspective.

Neither chose music in that context.

But, that little guy in the first picture just might.

Music Is
Life
Is Music