South Potomac Pilot
Dahlgren | April 28, 2017
By Barbara Wagner South Potomac Pilot
The Dahlgren School auditorium was transformed into a toe-tapping jamboree of bluegrass music as the U.S. Navy’s premier country/bluegrass quintet performed a number of their own compositions, as well as taking a moment to spotlight a Jason Aldean song, “Big Green Tractor,” at the request of one of their young fans at the school.
The full ensemble of Country Currents includes a drummer and steel guitarist, but for the smaller venue, the band featured its bluegrass quintet. Lead vocalist Musician 1st Class Kenneth Horton performed a number of songs he composed and introduced each member of the band to the children. The musicians explained each instrument they played, including its origins and features. The bluegrass lineup includes two Maryland natives, Senior Chief Musician Keith Arneson from Waldorf, Md., who performed with a four-stringed banjo, and Senior Chief Musician Patrick White from Williamsport, Md., who switched between his primary instrument — the fiddle, which he explained was a violin, just played differently — and a mandolin. White also provided backup vocals to Horton throughout the concert.
The quintet displayed amazing finger work on the folksy fiddling, banjo and guitar-picking and the thrumming of the upright bass, played by Musician 1st Class Daniel Stewart and additional guitar from Musician 1st Class Joseph Friedman.
Following a few toe-tapping numbers and an explanation of the instruments from the band, Horton asked the children for any questions they may have.
The queries ranged from “Do you get paid more to play in the band?” (to which Horton explained that they get paid the same as any other Navy service member at their rank) to how long they had been playing the instruments, to how many shows they do a year. One question came from a student pondering a career in music: “Do audience members sometimes come onstage to sing with you?”
Horton gently explained that audience members typically do not sing with them onstage; however, if the student was offering they would be glad to have her come up to sing. The student demurred bashfully at the invitation and the band played on.
The Country Currents performance was a part of the Month of the Military Child celebration at Dahlgren School to honor the younger members of military families for their sacrifice and service to the nation.