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Band scores big at Super Bowl events

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Bob Kamholz
Last month, The United States Air Force Band had the unique opportunity to participate in a complex, integrated outreach and engagement plan managed by the Secretary of the Air Force Office of Public Affairs in association with the NFL's 2015 Pro Bowl and Super Bowl activities in Arizona. During the 12-day execution period, a handful of the Band's Airman musicians communicated Air Force key messages, highlighted the Air Force's commitment to excellence, and connected America with her Airmen. Engagement efforts reached an in-person audience in excess of 161,000. The presentations featured rope drummers from the Ceremonial Brass and concerts by Max Impact, the premier rock band of the U.S Air Force. The high visibility opportunities generated more than 100,000 social media impressions, and the performers were highlighted in five television segments, reaching an additional 121 million viewers around the world.

Managing these efforts was no easy task. According to Senior Master Sgt. Regina Coonrod, superintendent of Operations for The U.S. Air Force Band, the hardest part was managing the compressed timeline of events for the trip. "The most difficult part was the coordination with the venue sponsors. The Band is used to coordinating our concerts months ahead of our arrival; however, this was impossible with the many moving parts surrounding the Super Bowl." She explained, "For instance, at Fan Fest Scottsdale, we couldn't confirm the exact location of our performance site to work out the logistics, because they only started building the Fan Fest site five days before our arrival. This caused changes to the plan nearly every day surrounding our set up and logistics."

Max Impact performed four concerts as part of Fan Fest during the week leading up to the Super Bowl for nearly 4,000 people. In addition to the pre-planned events, the Band's presence at Fan Fest and outreach efforts to the media generated additional performance opportunities. Arthur Dolan, producer for ESPN, invited the band to play the Sports Center theme song live, on-air. According to Coonrod, this was one of the most successful portions of the trip. "When the opportunity presented itself to play the ESPN theme song live on Sports Center, the band stepped up to the challenge. They transposed, rehearsed and performed the theme with perfection in only 45 minutes. This was a clear demonstration of the excellence presented by our Airman musicians, which is a direct reflection of the fine Airmen we represent every day in our great Air Force." The segment was hosted by Lindsay Czarniak, reporter for ESPN, and was seen by nearly 1.1 million viewers. The spot also generated a flurry of activity for the Band on social media.

Besides the live concerts and media appearances, the team also managed to schedule five education outreach events, which are part of the unit's Advancing Innovation through Music, or AIM program. "We wanted to ensure when we weren't performing for Pro Bowl or Super Bowl activities, we were dedicating time to our educational outreach mission. The rope drummers were able to conduct several high school clinics involving marching bands, drum lines and percussion sectionals." She continued, "Max Impact was able to perform for an elementary school and they also ran a combined choral and band clinic. The one-on-one interaction afforded through the AIM program not only inspires the students musically, but also gives exposure to our Air Force and the many diverse opportunities our military has to offer." More than 700 students participated in these outreach events.

Achieving this kind of reach while "on the road" is no small feat and according to Coonrod, they owe a large part of the success to the 11th Wing public affairs professionals, Technical Sgt. Nick Kibbey and Senior Airman Nesha Humes, who accompanied the band members on the trip. "Because of their out of the box approach to story-telling, they were able to document Max Impact from many aspects, allowing the Band to share their entire experience with their fans. Our Facebook performance increased by 1,399% due to the direct contributions of our PA team. They went above and beyond documenting the Band. They told the story of our mission and showed how the Band contributes to the Air Force mission," reported Coonrod. The Band's Facebook page had more than 61,000 views of the videos and photos produced by Kibbey and Humes. The page also earned nearly 2,500 likes with more than 200 shares while adding 261 more followers.

The spotlight continued to shine on the performers once they returned home to Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, home of The U.S. Air Force Band. Producers from WJLA's LIVE on NewsChannel 8 and Live on ABC7 contacted the Band to request a morning show appearance with reporter Eileen Whelan. Rope drummers Senior Master Sgt. Chris Martin and Master Sgt. Tom Rarick kicked off the show on Wednesday, Feb. 4, with interviews and by playing a short excerpt on the rope drums. Max Impact continued to perform throughout the morning for a total of six segments. The appearance concluded with an interview by Col. Larry H. Lang, commander and conductor, of The U.S. Air Force Band.

All in all, it was a whirlwind trip for all involved as this small group of Airman musicians fully embraced the Band's mission: The U.S. Air Force Band honors those who have served, inspires American citizens to heightened patriotism and service, and positively impacts the global community on behalf of the U.S. Air Force and the United States of America.

All of the videos mentioned in this article are available to view on the Band's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/USAFBand.