By Reggie Jarrett
Editor, Jax Air News
Established in 1995, Navy Band Southeast (NBSE) is one of nine U.S. Navy Fleet Bands. There are also two premier bands, The Navy Band in Washington D.C. and the Naval Academy Band.
NBSE is currently made up of 30 world-class musicians, although it is billeted for 45.
The band plays 150-300 engagements each year in an area of responsibility that stretches from the Carolinas to Texas and Puerto Rico.
All of the band's musicians play in the large wind ensemble, but the band also consists of several smaller groups that play wide variety of musical styles.
"We have the concert band, ceremonial band, Popular Music Group (PMG), Brass Quintet, Woodwind Trio, Brass Band and a jazz combo," said MU2 Trent Perrin.
"We are very flexible with the kind of music to support just about any event."
An important focus of the band is to support Navy recruiting, which involves playing area schools.
"I like playing in the schools," said tuba player MU3 Zachary Buckwash.
"We put on free concerts for the kids to get them excited about music."
The PMG is a favorite for younger audiences. "It is more than a rock band," explained vocalist and trombone player MU2 James Choate.
"It is also a soul band, a country band and a jazz combo, That's why it is called popular music group."
Audiences are often surprised when they hear rock music being played by people wearing Navy uniforms.
"The reaction is great. Everywhere we go, people are blown away that we bring a rock band," said Choate.
"Most of the time, they hear Navy band and they think marching band or ceremonial band."
The ceremonial band plays for most special events, change of command and retirement ceremonies.
"Our most important mission," said Perrin, "is rendering honors for the national anthem, rendering honors for flag officers, recognizing the commands when they do their change of command, recognizing people's service at retirement ceremonies. That is our number one priority. For major change of command ceremonies, we try as often as possible to send the full ceremonial band, which is usually 15-20 people."
Playing retirement events is special to MU3 Arthur Robinson.
"We are honoring not only the retiree's service and their accomplishments, but also people they have served with and for," he said.
Playing for NBSE is a labor of love for its personnel.
"I never thought when I was in college that I would get a job where they are paying me to travel the world and play music," said Buckwash. "It is a pretty awesome job."
NBSE is available for booking, but requests should be made early. Although requests can be made up to 12 months before an event, the band cannot confirm support until 90 days prior to military events and 60 days prior to civilian events.
Requests may be submitted by calling 542-8060, by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by going online to https://www.cnic.navy.mil/regions/cnrse/about/navy_bands/navy_band_southeast.html.
Navy Band Southeast provides music for all
By Reggie Jarrett