CAPE MAY, N.J. – The Coast Guard Recruit Band is scheduled to perform a free outdoor concert at the Rotary Park Gazebo in Cape May July 20 at 8 p.m.
The Coast Guard recruits and staff that make up the Coast Guard Recruit Band will perform for more than an hour during the Victorian Band Concert at Rotary Park. Training Center Cape May is home to the Coast Guard’s only recruit band and is made up primarily of recruits in Coast Guard basic training.
“We’re excited to have this opportunity to demonstrate the many talents of our recruits and staff to the community,” said Capt. Bill Kelly, commanding officer of Training Center Cape May. “We are striving to make Cape May the best place to live, work and visit.”
More than 40 Coast Guardsmen will perform during the Victorian band concert, and 36 of those performing are recruits in the intense basic training program at Training Center Cape May. The recruits generally only get two hours per week to rehearse as a group prior to the numerous performances the Coast Guard Recruit Band does each year.
The eight-week basic training program also means constant turnover for the bandmaster, Chief Petty Officer Tim Grover, the Coast Guard’s only enlisted bandmaster. Each week Grover meets with new recruits and hand picks individuals for band and ceremonial duties, which include color guards and the Recruit Silent Drill Team. The recruits begin practicing Wednesdays in their second week of training for their first performance during graduation each Friday. Eight of the 36 recruits performing during the July 20 Victorian Band Concert joined the band July 19.
“Most of the recruits we select for the band haven’t played an instrument in years, and we have band members leaving each week,” said Grover. “We literally create a new concert band every Wednesday, but we have dedicated staff and recruits who make it happen.”
The Coast Guard Recruit Band, which was founded in 1955, only gets one-to-two nights each week to rehearse as a band, and the demanding training schedule means that practice for individuals is sporadic and limited to a few hours each week. However, the recruits and the Ceremonial Division staff at the training center seem to make it happen each week.
Performances by the Coast Guard Recruit Band are in high demand, and they make regular appearances in numerous local parades and special events. Last year, the band played at 48 recruit graduations at Training Center Cape May and participated in more than 15 parades, military ceremonies or concerts in the local community.