The Surface Creek Valley's many music lovers got a special treat on June 21 when two ensembles of the 101st Army Band gave a two-hour-long performance in Town Park.
The eight-member 101st Army Dixieland Band and the seven-member 101st Army Rock Band gave a rousing concert that skirted high winds and rain squalls which ultimately did not disrupt the entertainment.
The other two ensembles of the 101st Army Band -- the Wind Ensemble and the Country Band -- played various other venues during the group's West Slope tour last week. The four ensembles joined together in a single unit as the 101st Army Concert Band for full concert performances in Montrose and other towns during their tour.
The Dixieland ensemble began the evening's performance in Cedaredge, true to the group's website billing, "This mirthful military band's repertoire features music from the beginning of jazz, bringing the hits of Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway and many others to a new generation of traditional jazz enthusiasts."
They began the evening with "The Sheik of Araby" which lead trumpet Lance Christensen noted was "the only song we play that is from a silent movie." (The song was written in 1921 to accompany a sequel to Rudolph Valentino's silent film classic by the same name.)
The band performed Cab Calloway's classic hit "Hi-De-Ho," and there were several numbers associated with Louis Armstrong. The Dixieland group braved a swelling squall to perform "Rhythm King," a number recorded by Bix Beiderbecke c. 1927.
They continued with other numbers from the 1920s and made familiar in movies. The Dixieland Band's performance concluded with the classic funeral dirge, "St. James Infirmary," that included a raucous and rousing trio performance by Christensen on trumpet, Nat Johnson on clarinet, and Paul Royle-Grimes on trombone leading up to the piece's downbeat conclusion.
Next up on stage was the rock ensemble, also known as "the Mile High 101" which, its website promised "plays a high-energy mix of rock and roll from the '70s all the way through the present. The group specializes in horn-driven funk and dance music."
After opening with an altogether fittingly brash version of "Domino," they proceeded directly into their penchant for heavy funk with a tribute to James Brown.
All of this group's military brass comes in the form of alto sax player 1st Sgt. Andrea Ojala (the highest ranking member of the band), and from sergeants Kalynn Carlton on trumpet (a Montrose native) and Brian Person.
Like the Dixieland ensemble this group gave its audience a great performance that included choreographed steps. They were all obviously having a great time performing for the townsfolk on stage. They went through a catalog of 10 numbers including one from funk artist Bruno Mars, then had fans dancing in the grass by concluding with two more pieces from the funk genre: Stevie Wonder's "I Wish" and finally "Play That Funky Music."
The Rock Band also performed a solemn "American Soldier Tribute" for their audience.
Cedaredge Town Park became a venue for the 101st Army Band's 2016 West Slope tour thanks to a member of the Rock Band ensemble who is a Montrose native. Kalynn Carlton (trumpet, guitar, backup vocals) suggested Cedaredge as a performance venue when plans for the West Slope tour were being arranged. Kalynn also plays French horn next to Shirley Clayton of Cedaredge as both are members of the Montrose Community Band.
The members of the 101st Army Band are Army National Guard members. They were spending part of their two weekends per year of active duty service and training in a 10-day musical tour that included 20 performances. Following their musical tour of the Western Slope, it was to be back to cleaning rifles, drills and honing the essential job skills they bring to helping defend America.