Home' Advance In Review : Advance in Review August 2017 Contents Air Force Big Band at the Gregory St. Amphitheatre.
The Americans and Australians coming together for
RAAF musicians (fur felt hats) performing with the
USAF Big Band.
The week of the 2016 Townsville Airshow
was one of the biggest and busiest events of
the calendar year for the Air Force Big Band
and Jazz Group - with performances at the
Townsville T150 Airshow, base open day and
the Freedom of the City Parade all combined
into one week. Included amongst all of these
commitments was the rare opportunity for
us to perform not only alongside but with the
United States Air Force (USAF) Band of the
Pacific Big Band, which is based in Japan.
Unusually, the Airshow was held over the
beautiful Townsville foreshore, it drew an
estimated crowd of 80,000 to the many
vantage points the foreshore offered, from
the tropical Strand, near-by Castle Hill and
even off-shore on Magnetic Island, - so
there wasn’t a bad seat in the house. The
extensive line up for the performing flying
displays were the RAAF Roulettes aerobatic
display team, F/A-18F Super Hornet, USAF
F-16 Fighting Falcon Hawk 127, C-17A
Globemaster III, C-130J Hercules, KC-30A
Multi-Role Tanker Transport and the E-7A
Wedgetail. Also historic war-birds like the
Tiger Moth, Hudson, Mustang, Catalina,
liftout: 2016 townsville airshow
Caribou, Hudson bomber, Catalina seaplane
and the Mustang fighter were on display
Many of these historic aircraft had operated
in the Townsville region during and after
World War II. My late father, Leading
Aircraftman Louis “Bluey” Crump who
was an air frame fitter, was stationed in
Townsville at the outset of WW II, so on a
personal note it was lovely to see some of
the aircraft he’d worked on flying overhead.
My only slight disappointment was that the
Catalina flying boat was no longer able to
land (if that’s the right term) on the harbour
as she was simply too old.
During World War II over one million
American soldiers, sailors and airmen and
women passed through Australia. The music
they brought with them, along with the likes
of the touring Artie Shaw Band whetted
Australian’s appetite for big band music
which soon took an even more solid hold in
Australian’s hearts through the war years
and long after.
So what better way to celebrate the many
years of harmony and cooperation between
our two countries than these joint big band
The gigs for the week were many and varied,
culminating with a joint RAAF / USAF big
band concert on the Saturday evening
at Anzac Park on the Strand followed by
marching displays and concerts at the RAAF
Base Townsville open day on the Sunday.
Our first rehearsal on the Tuesday was held
at the Australian Army Band building in
Lavarack Barracks. The USAF Band of the
Pacific were short a trombonist for the tour,
so our very own Flight Sergeant Andrew
Heading would get to do double duties
performing with both bands for the week.
The combined concert had several Air Force
Band horn players bolstering the USAF
numbers for the Anzac Park concert thus
allowing more expansive pieces to be played.
The music chosen was a mix of historic
WWII era charts from the likes of Benny
Goodman, Count Basie, Duke Ellington,
USAF and RAAF sax sections.
Air Force trombone section backstage with USAF Band
Leader (2nd from R).
Air Force guitarist Dave Reynolds (L) with USAF
guitarist Aaron Weib.
USAF Big Band performing on the foreshore.
Lionel Hampton and of course Glenn Miller,
as well as a few more modern pieces.
Wednesday was an afternoon performance
at the Gregory Street Amphitheatre, by both
bands as well as the Air Force Band Jazz
Group - who had an opportunity to flex their
chops. Later that night the Australian Army
Band, Townsville, had a performance as
part of their concert series, so that was an
excellent opportunity for ourselves and the
USAF Band members to get together. After
the performance we introduced the ‘tourists’
to the delights of late-night meat pies, a first
for all of them!
Thursday had the USAF Band performing a
school concert and the Air Force Band Brass
Quintet playing at the Rowes Bay Retirement
Home followed by an afternoon rehearsal for
the open day marching display.
Friday was more marching band rehearsals;
this time for the Freedom of Entry Parade
and even though it was October the weather
was very tropical.
Saturday was the busy day - Freedom of
the City Parade followed by the Air Force
Band Jazz Group at the Gregory Street
Amphitheatre. All the while the entire
Townsville Strand was buzzing with food
stalls, displays and everyone gazing up
to the four-hour-long flying extravaganza
above the beautiful tropical foreshore. Once
the fly-overs had finished our evening RAAF/
USAF Big Band concert at Anzac Park got
The performance went over wonderfully
well with soloists from both bands receiving
great support from the crowd. At the stroke
of 9 p.m. our last note was joined by a
most spectacular of fireworks displays, an
excellent way to finish off the weeks work.
Sunday was the RAAF Base Townsville open
day; we performed marching displays on
the runway in and amongst the aircraft, the
displays and the bumper crowd. During our
display a young child wandered out into the
middle of our marching display. I had him
march him alongside me in the front rank
until an opportune moment when his mum
came and retrieved him, sadly before we had
a chance to sign him up!
The USAF band was playing their show
between our performances so our own Flight
Sergeant Andrew Heading was certainly
earning his keep on the day running from
band to band.
It was a great honour to perform at the T150
Airshow on the beautiful Townsville Strand
alongside the USAF Band of the Pacific
playing music of World War II. Often it was
the original sixty-year-old arrangement,
an opportunity that rarely comes along
in a musician’s life and was one to be
Corporal Byron Crump
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ADVANCE in REVIEW
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