FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
Wild Blue Yonder

The Blue Yonders (Air Force photo/Ken Wright)

Entertainment-local

Wear your green to hear The Blue Yonders

By From page B1 | March 14, 2014

VACAVILLE — Bring out the shamrocks and dancing shoes. The Blue Yonders are performing at 5 p.m. Monday in Vacaville.

The band recently returned from a tour of Southwest Asia, making stops at several military bases and a few formal receptions at United States embassies and orphanages.

Monday’s concert is a way to welcome the band home while paying homage to St. Patrick, an Irishman who lived in the second half of the fifth century. His life is celebrated on March 17, the date of his death.

The Blue Yonders, one of the component groups of the larger Air Force Band of the Golden West, is known for mixing Irish tunes, bluegrass, pop and country music.

The six-member ensemble features a variety of instruments such as the Irish flute, penny whistle, accordion, bodhran (Irish drum), djembe (a goblet-shaped drum), mandolin, guitar and bass guitar.

Less than a year old, The Blue Yonders made their debut April 25, 2013, at the Palms Playhouse in Winters.

The group came together when members Staff Sgt. Paul Wells and Master Sgt. Sherry Garza talked about forming a new and unusual musical group for an upcoming deployment.

Wells has performed with artists such as Lee Greenwood and Buddy Miles, according to his website. Garza founded and directed the Heritage Aire Celtic Ensemble when she was stationed at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia.

Group members love to tinker with the tunes they perform.

Some of them have taken up new instruments to be in the band.

Garza plays the flute and Wells is the band’s guitarist. Other members of The Blue Yonders are Staff Sgt. Jonathan Biccum, bass player; Staff Sgt. Brandon May, accordion player; Senior Airman Megan Hokaj, vocalist; and Airmen 1st Class Benjamin Johnson, drummer.

The only active-duty Air Force band west of the Rockies, the Band of the Golden West is comprised of 68 military musicians under the command of Capt. Jason S. Plosch. In addition to performing for civilian communities throughout California, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Nevada, Arizona and Utah, the band supports 13 Air Force bases, eight Air Force reserve wings and six recruiting squadrons in more than 250 annual performances for 1.5 million listeners.

The organization has eight performing groups: concert band, ceremonial marching band, The Commanders jazz ensemble, Mobility popular music ensemble, The Blue Yonders folk rock band, Travis Brass quintet, Golden West Winds woodwind quintet and Wild West Winds clarinet quartet.

The Blue Yonders has three shows this week in Dublin at the city’s annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration. They are 1 p.m. Saturday, and 8:45 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Sunday.

More details can be found at www.bandofthegoldenwest.af.mil/index.asp.

Reach Amy Maginnis-Honey at 427-6957 or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/amaginnisdr.

The Blue Yonders

  • 5 p.m. Monday
  • Town Square, downtown Vacaville
  • Free
Amy Maginnis-Honey

Amy Maginnis-Honey

Amy Maginnis-Honey joined the staff of the Daily Republic in 1980. She’ll tell you she was only 3 at the time. Over the past three decades she’s done a variety of jobs in the newsroom. Today, she covers arts and entertainment and writes for the Living and news pages.
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