Air Force musicians to play The Ritz - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Air Force musicians to play The Ritz

USAF "Freedom Winds" performers are known to do "the unexpected" while performing. At one point in the evening, they will all perform as drummers. (Source: USAF Freedom Winds) USAF "Freedom Winds" performers are known to do "the unexpected" while performing. At one point in the evening, they will all perform as drummers. (Source: USAF Freedom Winds)
BLYTHEVILLE, AR (KAIT) -

The funky, fun-loving—but still very respectful sound of The United States Air Force Band of Mid-America’s “Freedom Winds” will fill The Ritz Civic Center on Monday, July 3 at 7 p.m.  

We’re going to play just a lot of different music,” Master Sgt. Jennifer James said. “There will be some George Gershwin tonight—a piece that really highlights the culture around the Mississippi River. It’s called, “Mississippi Five.” That’s a lot of fun. But really, our job is to represent the Air Force and the diversity that goes into the Air Force. We get to pick out all kinds of music to show that.”  

The Arts Council of Mississippi County will host the USAF of Mid-America’s “Freedom Winds” at 306 West Main Street in historic downtown Blytheville. 

Part of our job in the Air Force Band is to be Public Affairs and so we represent all of the different jobs and diversity in the Air Force and we do that through music,” Master Sgt. James said. “We do that through marches, military classics, American classics. We’ve even got some stuff that you’ll hear on the radio today.”

Composed of six Airman Musicians, “Freedom Winds” adds percussion to the traditional woodwind quintet instrumentation to enhance standard literature and increase their musical capabilities. Members of the group have diverse musical interests. 

“We go through basic training just like everybody in the military,” Master Sgt. James said. “But, we joined the Air Force Band, so we all have a little piece of paper that says, ‘I’m going to be in the band when we go to basic training. How you end up in this particular group is determined by who is where at any particular time." 

In addition to performing community outreach concerts, the "Freedom Winds" are called on to provide music for military retirements, changes of command, holiday caroling for military and civilian employees and other official military functions. The group also reaches out to America’s young music students during concerts, clinics and master classes. 

“Well, there’s six of us in ‘Freedom Winds,’. Master Sgt. James said. “The Band of Mid-America has 60 members in it. Right now, we’re broken up into all of our small groups. We’ve got people all around our ten-state area that we cover. We all, at some point in our careers, took an audition that allowed us to become part of the band.”  

The group also reaches out to America’s young music students during concerts, clinics and master classes. This allows students a unique opportunity to see a professional music group up close and talk to members about music and the United States Air Force.

“We were in Poplar Bluff yesterday. We played at the veteran’s facility there,” Master Sgt. James said. “That is so special for us when we get to play for our veterans—especially at this time of year. To really drive home and say, ‘Thank you for what they did’—because without what they did for us, we couldn’t be here today. And before that, we played at the Doniphan celebration out by the lake there kind of on the baseball field there. It was really warm; but very fun.”

Tickets are free, but will be required for admission. For more information, call The Ritz at (870)762-1744, or visit the website www.artsmissco.org. To find out more about the "Freedom Winds," go to: www.bandofmidamerica.af.mil.

Copyright 2017 KAIT. All rights reserved.

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