Old Ironsides Band

Playing Music Together in Germany
Dieses spontane Foto wurde von einem Kollegen namens Bob Levitsky nach dem Parade-Teil unserer Aufführung auf einem Volksfest irgendwo in Deutschland aufgenommen. Das ist Terri hinter dem jungen Mädchen mit dem Schild und ich bin links von T. Das ist unser Freund Willie Driffin, der der Tenorsaxophonist ist, der deutlich gezeigt wird.

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 ASSIGNMENT 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 think this was from a Belgium Tour where we stayed in one of their military installations. We are seated in the front “jump seats” of our tour bus. (Photo: Bob Levitsky)

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

I photograph of yours truly rendering a “gravely voiced” yet still largely 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 … Waiting on the bus between gigs. (There’s T resting over the bus seat without creasing her uniform. Another photo Bob Levitsky)

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…

Photo showing some of the members of the 1st Armored Division “Old Ironsides” Band performing an impromptu concert on tour 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, superior musicians, and significant musical mentors to me as a young artist learning jazz: 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 was our woodwind group leader and First Sergeant Billy Patterson was our enlisted bandleader.

Top’s remarks during a gig somewhere…

FEATURED PHOTOGRAPH

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Photo: Neuschwanstein Castle

Photo Taken In Germany, Hohenschwangau

Credit: Getty Images/EyeEm