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USAF Blue Aces to perform in Lewiston

Sat, Jun 2nd 2018 08:00 am
The Blue Aces Band will play at Hennepin Park at 6 p.m. Thursday, June 7.
The Blue Aces Band will play at Hennepin Park at 6 p.m. Thursday, June 7.
By Zackary Kephart
It's only rock 'n' roll ... well, actually, this is more than that. The United States Air Force Blue Aces Band of the USAF Heritage of America Band will play at Hennepin Park in Lewiston at 6 p.m. Thursday, June 7, as part of the 70th anniversary of the Air Force Reserve.
This is a free event, and everyone is welcome to attend.
The Blue Aces are nine dynamic airmen-musicians who perform a diverse mix of today's favorite artists, such as Kings of Leon, Imagine Dragons, Tori Kelly and Eric Church, as well as the old-school rock and rhythm and blues of yesterday. The band, comprised of two vocalists, guitar, bass, drums, keyboard, horn section and audio engineer, enjoys bringing its high-energy shows to a variety of audiences and settings throughout the eastern U.S.
The Blue Aces have deployed multiple times to southwest Asia, supporting U.S. and Coalition troops, while building international friendships. The performers have shared stages with numerous professional artists.
Director of Ground Operations Michael Williams explained how the upcoming Lewiston event came to be.
"I went to the Lewiston (Village Board to say) we had secured a band to come to the area that's going to support our air show. They're going to play on base on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Since they were coming in a day early, we figured it would be a good idea to partner up with one of the local communities as part of a community outreach-type of event. I approached the Lewiston (Village Board) about doing a show at Hennepin Park and they were supportive of it, so we were given the go-ahead to put on a concert there."
Concert attendees will notice something different about this show. To bring a little community flair to the event, four students have been chosen to perform as part of the Lewiston-Porter Band: Emily Waechter, Stephanie DeCroix, Phil McGarvey and Austin Thurman.
Tour Manager and Music Director Sgt. Ryan Rager said, "The band is generally on tour approximately every six weeks. Our tours are either geared to high school students as an extension of the recruiting effort, community outreach performances such as the Niagara Air Show or public concerts, or military audiences (such as awards banquets or squadron functions). We average maybe 100 events a year.
"We play a wide variety of music and tailor each playlist to our audience. Our current repertoire ranges from classic rock and funk to the chart-topping hits on the radio today. I arrange all the music for the group, and the band takes pride in putting their own twist and interpretation on each version - as to make it their own."
Lead singer Master Sgt. "Quez" Vasquez has performed all over the world for 20 years in Air Force Bands. Vasquez said, "This is a talented group of musicians. If the audience is really feeling what we're doing, we can change forms and styles on stage with minimal rehearsal. No two shows are the same and we're constantly evaluating what works with what audience. Just come out to one of our shows - there's a huge variety of music and we know you're going to have a good time."
Rager said the greatest joy for the group members is "being able to serve their country by making music."
Group leader Master Sgt. Kenny Maurais said, "The musical excellence on stage reflects the excellence our expeditionary airmen serving around the globe demonstrate each and every day."
Joining the Air Force Band program is no small feat. First, members will prepare an audition, which encompasses a wide variety of musical styles and is highly competitive.
Upon winning an audition, band members must meet all requirements set forth by the U.S. Air Force to join the military and complete the enlistment process. All band members complete eight and a half weeks of basic military training before reporting to their first duty station as airmen.
While the band is based at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia, members bring music to the mid-Atlantic in live concerts, and to the nation in televised events such as "The Today Show" and the Desert Storm National Victory Parade, as well as presidential inaugural events. The band has performed ceremonies for U.S. presidents and foreign heads of state, including the queen of England and the president of France.
For more information about the Blue Aces, visit on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BlueAcesRock or visit online at www.heritageofamericaband.af.mil.

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