News: 147th Army Band rocks western South Dakota schools
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Theanne Herrmann
RAPID CITY, S.D. – Members of the South Dakota Army National Guard 147th Army Band, of Mitchell, performed for high school and middle school students across western South Dakota with a country-rock band performance Feb. 8-14.
Drive On is one of seven music ensembles the 147th Army Band offers. The band originated as a country band but has evolved to include more genres such as classic rock and pop music, since its debut in 2011.
The band traveled to eight schools as part of their annual training to expose students to live music and the SDARNG.
Several of the 147th music ensembles are also conducting their annual training performing for students throughout the state to include: SGT ROCK, performing current hits from today’s pop artists to rock classics; FTX, features a variety of jazz, funk, pop, rock and rap; Mission Essential, a brass quintet focusing on patriotic tunes, classical pieces and popular hits; and Black Ops, an all clarinet group who plays old classics to today’s pop hits.
“Students now know the National Guard has more opportunities than driving trucks,” said Staff Sgt. Richard Larson, Drive On noncommissioned officer in charge. “If nothing else, they were entertained.”
During their 50-minute show, the band played songs from "Sweet Home Alabama" by Lynyrd Skynyrd to "Grenade" by Bruno Mars.
“This is great. The students love it,” said Lloyd Potter, St. Thomas More High School band teacher. “This performance exposes them to live music, which is much better than listening to a CD or iPod.”
During the performance, Drive On invited Potter onstage to play guitar during the song "Sweet Home Alabama."
“The students enjoyed seeing their teacher play guitar,” said Larson. “They were really cheering for him.”
Coincidentally, Larson and Potter know each other.
“Mr. Potter was my high school band teacher in Plankinton back in 1996,” said Larson. “I called him a week ago and asked if he wanted to play during our performance.”
Potter had only one week to practice the song before joining them live onstage, but said it was workable due to their musical talent.
“It was easy and fun; they are all great musicians,” said Potter. “Hopefully, some of the younger students will get excited about staying in band or pick up a new instrument such as the guitar, drums or flute.”
After the performance, the band held a 10-minute forum encouraging students to ask questions about music or the SDARNG.
Students asked questions ranging from whether or not this is the band’s full-time job to how to set-up equipment for their own band.
“In Custer, we had a few students in their own band who asked a few questions about setting up equipment,” said Sgt. Lisa Groon, lead vocal. “They were thankful for the information and are now going make a few changes that will make things better.”
Groon said although it is rewarding to perform music for the students it is even more rewarding to educate them.