Last week was the busiest week we've had at Kandahar Air Field in terms of our performance schedule. Various groups from the band, including my brass quintet, spent time every day performing for the troops. As a musician, that's one of the things I enjoy about Christmas: there is so much music associated with the holiday, and the opens up lots of opportunities to perform. On Saturday, 18 December, we had a busy schedule, playing at a party for an Army Engineering company. As soon as we arrived, the "chorus" that they had assembled was ready to sing along to our accompaniment of "Jingle Bells" and "Winter Wonderland." We performed music throughout the party before partaking of lunch ourselves.
Afterwards, we headed to the boardwalk to set up for the 10th Mountain Division Band's Christmas Concert. This would be an afternoon performance of several of our groups all in one place: the Brass Quintet, the Dixieland Band, the Tuba/Euphonium Quartet, and the Rock Band. We had a surprisingly large crowd, and most of them stayed for the whole show. After the BQ's opening segment, I had to hurry to the seating area to help take care of the video recording of the concert. I ended up getting interviewed by the camera crew from Armed Forces Network that was covering the event. Video of the concert can be found here and here, though in one of the videos they incorrectly identify me as playing in the "brass quartet."
Sunday, we began our caroling mission. Our small ensembles headed to various locations to play Christmas music for anyone who cared to listen. We did this all through the week. Because there are numerous nations represented here, there was an aspect of international goodwill to the performances. In addition to playing at the boardwalk, the PX, the RC-South compound, and the main dining facilities, we also played for a group of Canadian aircraft mechanics by the flightline and inside the Canadian military compound. Another performance found us entertaining the line that stretched outside the local Tim Horton's, one of Canada's most popular coffee shop chains. Before we left we had been provided with free chocolate chip muffins and coffee/hot chocolate from the staff. (Needless to say, I have now become a fan of Tim Horton's.) We also had a friendly reception from the Australian troops inside their office area. They handed out small koala-doll clips clutching candy canes to us. We were informed that they know many of the holiday tunes that we do, although they have to "Australianize" the lyrics to adjust for the unusual animals that are found there, and to adjust the wintry stuff for their summer December climate. One of our audience members was a Chaplain who had arrived the night before, and we had to caution him that brass quintet performances were an exception rather than the rule at KAF! One positive side to these types of performances is that we hope to open up doors for later performance opportunities throughout the deployment.
Speaking of which, in the next blog I'll write about the trip we took for the Christmas weekend!