Concert unites music fans

By Ryan Lengerich

The Air Force Band of the West jazzed up Tucumcari Tuesday evening and was treated to a standing ovation by the audience.

More than 450 jazz and big band fans of all ages attended the hour and a half show by “Dimensions in Blue,” a 20-person unit of the United States Air Force Band of the West from Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio.

The band played a mixture of patriotic, big band era and jazz music at the Tucumcari High School Auditorium.

The concert was sponsored by the Quay Council for Arts and Humanities and the Quay County Sun.

“It’s great, it reminds me of when I was in the service,” said Tucumcari resident Victor Martinez. “It was back in 1954 and this was the kind of music we had when I was in the Air Force.”

The show opened with the Air Force service song and the Star Spangled Banner. Vocalist Airman 1st Class Christina Saalborn followed with the heart wrenching ballad “Come Rain or Come Shine,” and a rendition of the Marcels classic “Blue Moon.”

Tucumcari resident Robert Lamm attended the show with his wife and four children.

“This is such great family time together, there are not a lot of things you can take the whole family to,” Lamm said. “This community is so blessed to have the Quay Council for the Arts.”

“Dimensions in Blue,” performed at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta and was on its way to a concert in Amarillo when they stopped in Tucumcari. The performers are full time musicians and the unit averages about 100 shows annually across Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and Louisiana.

“It’s a wonderful facility, the crowd was great and it was great to see the kids out there,” said Master Sgt. Steve Watkins, who plays a trumpet for the band. “That’s why we’re here, you don’t hear big bands anymore, they are just not around.
“It’s not economically feasible to keep a big band on the road like 30-40-years ago.”

Beth Romero, 11, a Tucumcari Middle School student said she wants to be singer.

“I have never heard blues but I think I am really interested in it, they are really good,” Beth said. “I think jazz should take over everything there is — it doesn’t have bad words or anything. It’s not like pump out your ears or anything like that.”

The band followed a standing ovation at concerts end with an encore dedication to veterans. The crowd applauded as the band played the “Service Medley,” and each veteran in the audience stood up as they heard the song from the branch for which they served.

Tony Morano, of Tucumcari, served in the Air Force in 1963.
“I enjoyed it,” Morano said. “But I am at that age where I knew most of those songs, which is pretty scary.”