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Marine Cpl. Andrew Toothman belts out tunes on his trombone during rehearsals for the 3rd MEF Band's Annual Summer Concert.
Marine Cpl. Andrew Toothman belts out tunes on his trombone during rehearsals for the 3rd MEF Band's Annual Summer Concert. (Mark Oliva / S&S)
Marine Cpl. Andrew Toothman belts out tunes on his trombone during rehearsals for the 3rd MEF Band's Annual Summer Concert.
Marine Cpl. Andrew Toothman belts out tunes on his trombone during rehearsals for the 3rd MEF Band's Annual Summer Concert. (Mark Oliva / S&S)
Marine Cpl. Jeffrey Higgs keeps time on the kettle drums during a rehearsal.
Marine Cpl. Jeffrey Higgs keeps time on the kettle drums during a rehearsal. (Mark Oliva / S&S)
Marine Cpl. Ryan Frost, a tuba player with the 3rd MEF Band on Okinawa, thunders a bass line during a rehearsal.
Marine Cpl. Ryan Frost, a tuba player with the 3rd MEF Band on Okinawa, thunders a bass line during a rehearsal. (Mark Oliva / S&S)
Marine Cpl. Karl Sembroski adds a soft touch on his french horn.
Marine Cpl. Karl Sembroski adds a soft touch on his french horn. (Mark Oliva / S&S)

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Looking sharp in blues comes naturally to Marines.

But members of the 3 Marine Expeditionary Force Band are ready to show Okinawa that Dixieland, big band and traditional concert music fit the bill just fine, too.

Band members are putting the final touches on a two-hour concert scheduled for 7 p.m. July 19 in Ginowan Convention Center.

The free annual Summer Concert will feature selections ranging from full-stage band to lively big band to Dixieland jazz. There also will be guest appearances from Okinawan performers.

“This is huge for us,” band director Warrant Officer Benjamin Bartholomew said of the upcoming concert.

“There are pretty much only two big concerts a year, Christmas and summer. … This is the one when you want to hear serious music performed live. This is what we call a heavy concert.”

Haebaru Okinawan Children’s Choir will perform, as will taiko drummer Eichi Miyanaga.

But don’t expect traditional Okinawan drumming.

“He’s got a pretty unique show,” Bartholomew said, adding that Miyanaga arranges his taiko drums so he can play several at once.

“It’s not what you’d normally think of when it comes to taiko drums,” Bartholomew said. “It’s the traditional sound of the drums with a new spin. We’re pretty excited.”

But don’t think Marine band members are giving up the stage altogether.

They’ve got several selections planned to keep the crowd rolling.

“We mainly think about the audience when it comes to selecting the music,” Bartholomew said. “I picked one piece called ‘Hounds of Spring.’ In fact, it’s our first piece. It’s just a great concert band piece that’s very well-written. It’s like a mini-overture.”

Another piece selected for performance, “Ghost Train,” takes listeners on a churning train ride through the Rocky Mountains, chugging along to a heavy percussion and driving tempo, similar to that of a steaming locomotive.

“It’s going to be a neat piece,” Bartholomew said.

Concert-goers shouldn’t be surprised if they feel the need to clap and dance to some of the tunes, said Master Sgt. Christopher Krueger, 3 MEF’s bandmaster.

“I’m heading up our jazz portion of our show,” he said. “We’re going to start out with some big band, like Glenn Miller and Count Basie, and move on to some Miles Davis tunes. Then, we’ll get back to some Dixieland and a New Orleans jazz portrait.

“We’re going to have a good time playing. We’re going to touch on every emotional trigger you have. You don’t get that anywhere but a live stage performance.”

Kreuger said the concert is also a chance for the band to help bridge the gap between American and Japanese cultures during a performance offering something for everyone.

“This is a chance for us to show a different side of the military,” he said. “Music is the universal language.”

Bartholomew said he hopes to see the concert hall filled to its capacity of 1,600 guests.

But band members say just performing will be enough.

“I love being on stage,” trumpet player Cpl. Justin Schmidt said. “No where else can I get this feeling in a job that seems as easy as it is.”

The annual Summer Concert is open to the public.

Doors open at 6 p.m.

For more information, call the 3 MEF Band at 645-3919.

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