MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho --
Backstage, fatigue from a week on the road and daily performances weighs heavily as the bandsmen psych themselves up for the last show of their tour.
The assembled high school audience was already being stirred into fervor by the student body president with all the spirit of homecoming week. The band's drummer explodes with a gut busting solo, sending the crowd into a frenzy. Leaving weariness behind, the band takes the stage, ready to pour every remaining drop of sweat and energy into the performance.
A swarm of students rushes the stage as Mobility, a rock ensemble from the U.S. Air Force Band of the Golden West, captivates them with their expertly crafted stage presence.
"Music is the launching point for us to start the conversation with the audience," said Master Sgt. Douglas Trejada, NCO in charge of Mobility and bassist. "The majority of what we try to do is continuously engage the audience by building moments for them to remember us by."
Whether the moments the band builds throughout the performance are happy or sad, they have been perfectly mastered through the dedication each member puts in.
"We use music as a way to communicate above language," said Master Sgt. Dennis Pack, guitarist. "It's a way to touch another person's heart without the language barrier. Through music you can transmit positivity, make someone laugh, or make someone cry."
Rocking out to classic tunes of the sixties to today's top-40 hits, Mobility has enough diversity in their set list to satisfy almost anyone's musical preferences. Add in a few original versions of some old favorites, and Mobility is guaranteed to entertain. Tejada says it's not enough enough to simply play the music -- people could just listen to the radio to hear whatever genre they want. The band strives to give the audience something more.
"Learning the music takes a couple of weeks but the planning of a performance is just as important as the actual music itself," Tejada said. "It's a given you have to get the music right but if you don't get the planning right, we aren't nearly as effective and won't give the end result to the audience."
The members take immense pride in their craft, tailoring it to perfection in order to tell the Air Force mission in an extraordinary way.
"At the end of each set, it should've looked a lot like a good movie," said Tejada. "You start off with a hand shake, then it gets a little more intense, the twist in the plot emerges, a tragic tear jerking moment happens and then it finishes with some sort of happy conclusion. So we build our sets according to that, not so much the music but how we can make those songs fit those moments."
The band performed six shows at six venues, sharing their talent throughout communities around Mountain Home Air Force Base, which included the Idaho State Veterans Home, St. Luke's Children's Hospital, Air Force Appreciation Day in Mountain Home, Idaho, Duck Valley Indian Reservation in Owyhee, Nev., and Mountain Home High School. The band made its final performance of the tour at Twin Falls High School.
"The bands program is in place to tell people about the Air Force, why it's important and the great jobs we do for, and in defense of, America," said Pack. "With music, we can communicate that in an entertaining format which gets right to people's hearts."
Pack, a Twin Falls native who started his musical career as a 12-year-old clarinet player at Robert Stuart Jr. High School, was grateful to be able to come back to Twin Falls and play for his alma mater.
"Coming back is absolutely surreal," said Pack. "It's great to be able to give back to the community who helped raise me up to be the person I am. The Air Force has taken me all over the world and to be able to come back and give back to the people of Twin Falls is an amazing opportunity."
Mobility supports many Air Force programs and priorities, whether it is for recruitment, to show support to vets or just to show patriotism to military members, but one thing is for sure they do it for the love of the music.
"[The music] has purpose behind it," said Tech. Sgt. Clint Whitney, vocalist for Mobility. "There's meaning. There's emotion. And, you can't always describe that, but through song, through music, you can. Whether that's to 'rock faces off' or whether that's to really engage emotion and implant purpose into someone's day, I think it's really relevant."