March 02, 2016 - 2:30 PM
VERNON - Back in the 1990s as a long-haired, grunge-loving band student at Seaton Secondary in Vernon, Brayden Wise never thought his love of music would lead him to a career with the military.
Wise, a bass guitar player, has a unique job as a professional musician: His audiences include everyone from the Governor General to troops returning from service to school groups. His venues range from Parliament to public streets. His official title is Chief Petty Officer 2nd Class of the Naden Band of the Royal Canadian Navy, an ensemble of 35 full-time musicians.
“This is our day job,” Wise says. “In the military, we are musicians. Other people drive tanks, fly planes — we play in the band.”
Wise first got hooked on music at Beairsto School, and continued to follow his passion at Seaton Secondary under the instruction of band teacher Geoff Dolman, who still teaches today.
“Geoff gave me an opportunity not to be limited to one thing. I was allowed to take band over and over again so I could learn more instruments,” Wise says.
In 1993, a few years before he graduated, Wise saw the Naden Band perform and ‘put two and two together that military and music could happen’.
“Like most other people I had no idea there were people in uniform playing music. They were a killer band back then. Flash forward a few years, and I’m in there,” he says.
After high school, Wise joined the Canadian Armed Forces as a member of the Band of the 15th Field Regiment in Vancouver. Later years brought him to Ottawa, where he worked as a bassist, drum major and bandleader for a pop-rock military ensemble. Last year, he was promoted to his present rank as band chief of the Naden Band, based out of Victoria.
The Naden Band has been going for 75 years, and aims to support operations and create public awareness about the Royal Canadian Navy.
“We bring the message of the navy to places ships can’t sail, like inland B.C.,” Wise says.
They play parades, ship arrivals and departures, and ceremonies such as Remembrance Day and Changes of Command. And it’s not just marching band music — the group breaks out into smaller ensembles including a jazz band, a Dixieland band, and a rock band. Each member is a highly-skilled, professional musician. The trumpet player, for example, is Miguel Valdes de la Hoz, who previously played with the Buena Vista Social Club and is considered a ‘trumpet god.’
“Back in December, we finished five sold-out symphony shows at the Royal Theatre in Victoria, then played out in the rain to welcome a deployment back,” Wise says. “The ship arrivals are our particular favourite. They’re very emotional.”
Right now, the band has deployed its smaller ensembles to various communities in B.C. Wise is with his group in the Okanagan, where he played a show March 1 at Seaton Secondary and continues on this week with shows in Oliver and Penticton.
Wise was pretty excited to perform at Seaton Secondary, and to say hello to his old band teacher.
“It is the best job out there and a great way to marry up public service with something I absolutely love to do,” Wise says.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2016