Band_03.jpgSgt. 1st Class Jessica Gatlin performs with other members of the 282nd's 'Mission Essential' during a virtual concert on Fort Jackson July 18. (Photo Credit: Tom Byrd)

By Tom Byrd                                                                                                                                                                                                             Fort Jackson Public Affairs

COVID-19 has changed many things on Fort Jackson. One thing that has gone away during this time of lock down and social distancing is the morale concert the 282nd Army Band normally plays to trainees about to graduate.

The band normally plays popular songs from various genres since not everyone in the crowd has the same musical tastes. The diversity of a basic training battalion means there are Soldiers from all over the U.S. and many from other countries. On July 18, the band did something a little different.

Staff Sgt. Jeffery Taylor, the bassist and leader of the group known as “Mission Essential,” said this one was special for several reasons.

“It’s the culmination a lot of hard work we’ve put in over the last four months,” Taylor said. “We have a whole new group from previous months, some very talented musicians.”

The concert was the first one the band played where the audience was entirely online.

What made this performance special for Taylor was the band played music, which influenced the

band members growing up.

“A lot of us grew up wanting to be rock stars,” Taylor said. “We idolized big named artists from the ‘80s and ‘90s. A lot of the music is a tribute to those artists.”

The choice of songs were a hit with the online audience as well.

Comments online ranged from nostalgia about certain songs to overwhelmingly complimentary.

By the end of the show there had been more than 28,000 views across three Facebook pages. As of Monday, they had racked up more than forty-five thousand views.

Along with Taylor on bass, Sgt. 1 st Class Kevin Jahn played drums. Sgt. 1 st Class Jessica Gatlin and Sgt. Jeffrey McCormick shared time as lead vocalists. Staff Sgt. Jared Bree played keyboard and provided background vocals. Spec. Shawn McGovern and Spc. Art Avila played guitar. Sgt. Graham Hutcheson worked as the lighting engineer and Spc. Ramaher Ortiz was the sound engineer.

It was also Taylor’s last time playing with the band since he will be leaving Fort Jackson soon to be an instructor at the Army School of Music.