Air Force Reserve band to hold free holiday concert Thursday

awoolen@macon.comDecember 5, 2012 

WARNER ROBINS -- Since moving to Robins Air Force Base in 1961, the Band of the U.S. Air Force Reserve has put on a concert for Christmas.

The Air Force Reserve Command will present its 51st annual holiday concert at the Museum of Aviation at 7 p.m. Thursday.

Master Sgt. Bill Granger said the concert is a way of giving back to the community.

“We want to say thank you to the people here in Middle Georgia,” he said.

While the concert is free, the seats quickly fill up in the Century of Flight Hangar, where the band will perform.

The extensive song list includes children’s songs, hymns and traditional carols.

Granger’s favorite this year is “Frosty the Snowman” because he helped write the charts for the musicians.

While his official title is superintendent, he plays the tuba in the band and organizes the unit.

“Anything that plays, moves or toots, I have my finger on it,” Granger said with a laugh.

Along with the traditional instruments such as horns and woodwinds, the about 30-member band features a keyboardist and a drum kit.

Senior Airman Jill Diem and Tech Sgt. Alyson Jones are the two vocalists who will lead the singing during the concert.

Second Lt. Thomas P. Gamboa, commander of the Reserve Band, was busy Nov. 29 tightening up each musical selection during a rehearsal.

“I want to focus on things to make the music more characteristic,” he told the band.

Songs such as “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” which has meaning to the soldiers stationed overseas, are important, Granger said.

Six members of the band are what Granger called “down range” or deployed.

The band travels throughout the U.S. and overseas to bring music to members of the Air Force. It is nominated for a Midsouth Regional Emmy Award in the Entertainment category for its “Holiday Notes from Home” with Dave Ballengee, Donald Schofield and Bill Turner. “Holiday Notes from Home” is a video production that was recorded and broadcast on the Armed Forces Network.

Granger knows what it’s like to be away from family during the holiday and how much it means to have the band perform.

“This is our Christmas gift to them,” said Granger of both this holiday concert as well as the performances later this month.

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