Performing as a professional musician is a dream come true to Jesse Tubb. Performing on national and world stages for the U.S. Army Band "Pershing's Own," however, goes beyond even his wildest dreams.
And whether it's Veterans Day or any other day, Tubb regards playing "Taps," the national song of remembrance, as true privilege.
"To be a professional musician, especially in the Army serving my country, it's just been an awesome experience," he said. "I've played in concerts in great halls throughout the world and, you know, playing Taps for a funeral holds more meaning and importance to me than playing in a concert hall."
Tubb, 36, whose mother, Linda Beug, lives in Gardnerville, has enjoyed a magical tour that has led from his hometown in South Lake Tahoe to an Army career that has taken him around the globe - including a recent trip to China - and much more.
Now, at Arlington National Cemetery, where he has played "Taps" for funerals on many occasions, he has an opportunity to play a different role as a model for a bugler's statue at Arlington's Visitors Center.
"My understanding is it's going to be in the middle of the lobby," Tubb said. "So when you walk in, one of the first things you see is a statue of the bugler getting ready to play Taps."
Tubb was near breathless to learn this honor had been bestowed on him, and to add a special twist, 2012 marks the 150th anniversary of "Taps."
"When they assigned the band to pick a bugler to model for the statue, one of the officers and the command sergeant major picked me," Tubb said. "To have the statue there and to be the one chosen, to be the face for that moment, not only of the Army band, but for one of the most recognizable melodies, for our country in that military cemetery, it's an incredible honor."
Dr. Charles Cureton, chief of the U.S. Army Center of Military History's Museums Division, coordinated the details and the work to create a precise pose and look to the statute was extraordinary, according to Tubb.
"Essentially, he was trying to capture this emotional moment right before Taps are being played," Tubb said. "It's the split second as
I'm taking my breath in before I start playing."
Tubb said he went to StudioEIS in Brooklyn, which specializes in the design and production of museum figures, amd spent a day with a videographer and photographer to create the model.
"To see the pictures before they painted it, to see my face, it was really unusual," he said. "The details that went into the statue, it was pretty incredible. I saw pictures before they painted it, of the uniform the statue was wearing, they made sure the pant length was right and the sleeve length was good and the cap looked good. They made sure they had everything exactly the way we wear it when we're at the cemetery."
The uniform is distinctive uniform that only the Army band wears, Tubb observed. For example, the shape of the rank is reminiscent of the U.S. Cavalry - much like what General John Pershing would have worn a century ago. And it was Pershing who in 1922 formed the band Tubb now performs with.
"It's a distinctive uniform that only the Army band wears ... it's similar to the dress blues the rest of the Army wears but the coat is different. The way the rank is shaped is different, it's reminiscent of the Cavalry rank, that General Pershing would have worn. The coat, it's got eight buttons on the front that symbolize the eight notes of the scale ... there's a whole bunch of symbolism that goes into the design."
This has been a long and rewarding journey dating to his introduction to the trumpet at age 9. The 1994 South Tahoe High graduate went on to study music at California State University Stanislaus and received a bachelor of arts in music education in 1999. He also earned Masters of Music degrees in trumpet performance and jazz improvisation at the University of Michigan.
After joining the Army Reserves, Tubb performed with the 91st Division Reserve Band from 1996-1999 and the 70th Division Reserve band from 1999-2002, followed by three years with the U.S. Army Field Band. In 2005, he joined "Pershing's Own" Ceremonial Band before winning his current Concert Band position.
"We play concerts in the area and support the ceremonial band when there are too many events," he said of the Concert Band. "We frequently play for funerals or official arrivals like when the Queen of England came."
Recently, the Concert Band spent one week touring China as part of a historic collaboration with China's Military Band.
Tubb gives credit to his band director at South Tahoe High, Alisa Jiminez, for helping him pursue music in college. In his senior year when his high school band played at a jazz festival in Monterey a professor came to watch and offered him a scholarship to Cal State Stanislaus.
"It was my band director that hooked me up going to Stanislaus," he said. "I didn't know what I was going to do and she got in contact with one of her old professors who was teaching at Stanislaus. It was only because of her that I went to college at all. My secondary education and grad school would not have been possible if not for music."
In between his regular duties, Tubb also keeps up his fitness as an endurance athlete. He is entered in the 50th running of the JFK 50-Mile ultramarathon, which includes a 13-mile section of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, and has the Lake Placid Ironman Triathlon on his radar for 2013.
That makes for a pretty impressive day's work. And this staff sergeant isn't ready to seek new employment anytime soon.
"I've got to see a lot of important people and play for a lot of important political figures from around the world and it's been an incredible journey," he said. "I just went over 11 years of active duty service and I plan on staying until they kick me out. It's been an amazing gig."