PLATTSMOUTH – Approximately 350 people spent a beautiful June evening last Wednesday in downtown Plattsmouth listening to the sounds of the 43rd Army Band of the the Nebraska Army National Guard during its summer tour of southeast Nebraska.
It turned out to be quite a hit.
“It was fantastic,” said local resident Tina Harvey. “We were lucky to have them in Plattsmouth.”
“It was good,” her daughter, Courtney, added.
The award-winning band, numbering about 40 members, put on a performance lasting 90 minutes on the outdoor stage at Fourth and Main streets. The audience enjoyed the show on furnished seats or on lawn chairs they brought themselves or just lying on blankets on the ground.
The show’s first portion, lasting 60 minutes, featured the entire band playing popular marches by John Philip Sousa, Arthur Sullivan and others.
Emily Roth of Lincoln performed a saxophone solo, and she and two other female members sang Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, made famous by the legendary Andrews Sisters in the 1940s.
Towards the end of that portion of the show the band played the march songs of the five branches of the armed forces: Navy, Army, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard.
As each of those songs was played, those in the audience who served in that particular branch stood at attention.
Then came the final selection, The Stars and Stripes Forever, which got the audience up and clapping.
The last part of the show featured a select group from the band, known as Rock and Load, that performed popular rock and country songs.
The mission of the band is to provide musical entertainment for the morale of the soldiers here and abroad. Every year during the summer months, the band tours a particular part of Nebraska. This year, it was southeast Nebraska on the band’s map, an area not frequently visited, according to Brian Anderson, the conductor.
In fact, this was his first Plattsmouth appearance in the 31 years he has been a band member, Anderson said.
This band has won numerous awards over the years and that musical excellence really came through, according to audience reaction.
“It was wonderful, really great,” said Yvonne Chandler who traveled up from Peru. “It was fantastic. It was worth the trip.”
Mayor Paul Lambert, who was in the audience, added, “It was outstanding. It was a great evening of entertainment.”
Bob and Patti Jones of Plattsmouth had a special reason for attending. They have two daughters in the band – Emily Roth on sax and Liz Purdham on clarinet.
The sisters grew up loving music, Bob said.
“Their mom sang to them all the time,” he said.
It takes a dedicated commitment for the members to play in the band because they all have regular full-time careers to take up much of their time, according to Jones.
“They are a professional group. They all have a great time together.”
Besides the audience, band members seemed to have a good time. That was certainly the case with Mandi Crick, who teaches vocal music at Plattsmouth Middle School.
“It was awesome,” she said. “I saw a lot of familiar faces. This might be one of the largest crowds of the year.”
Anderson, the conductor, added, “It was a good crowd. They were very responsive to the music we played.”