FORT MEADE,Md. – Ask most people who their favorite musical artist or group is,and the answers will unsurprisingly vary.
Ask soldiers stationed in Baghdad which band makes them walk away with a smile,and the answer will probably lead to one group: Amber Tight.
The 1st Cavalry Division rock group,Amber Tight,is one of about 20 groups of its kind in the country. The members comprising it came into the service with the unique capacity to support their country with music. As of Feb. 4,the group is back in the states after being in Iraq for just under a year.
Bass player Sgt. Corrin Campbell, 23,of Superior Wis.,said Amber Tight uses music,cover songs mostly,to cheer up soldiers dealing with loss and hardship.
“We help them forget,” she said. “You almost don't realize what an impact you have until people come up and tell you. It was a different kind of experience,kind of a reality check.”
The nine-member group learns to play songs without sheet music in front of them,sometimes in only a day,and sticks to mainstream country,rock,pop and jazz songs the musicians know will please anyone's taste.
All of Amber Tight's members are reservists who have been a part of music most of their lives. They joined the Army rock band to share that while serving their country.
“It's a blast to be able to wear this uniform and do what I love to do while I wear it,” said Staff Sgt. Jeff Stewart,40,a keyboardist from Lawrence,Kan. “Especially in Iraq.”
Amber Tight is currently recording an album here,due out later this year. On it will be group favorites such as B.B. King's “The Thrill Is Gone” and Incubus' “The Anti-Gravity (Summer of Romance).” The Incubus song is a personal favorite of Campbell's because of the “jazzy bass line.”
Sgt. Andrea Scott,32,of Richmond,Va.,said Amber Tight “double dips” as both regular service personnel,doing guard duty and physical training,and being musicians.
Campbell said that was something of a surprise. “I definitely thought being in the band would be easier,” Campbell said. “But it's not. … I ended up loving it the whole time.”
Group members came from a plethora of service areas,from cooking to intelligence.
“It's a big melting pot,” said Scott,a singer.
After the album is cut,the musicians will return to their civilian lives,where some will continue to pursue music.
Spc. Tony Corbett,21,of Columbia,Md.,plays the drums and said he plans to go to college and major in something involving music.
The group realizes not many people know about its existence,but that is OK. They aren't looking for an “American Idol” brand of quick fame.
“Some people have never heard of the Army band,” Corbett said. “I tell them we play for the troops to provide morale and entertainment for them.”