Who would think that cruising the world would get old.
But for Airman Nathan Heald, his earlier years of living aboard Princess, Norwegian and Celebrity luxury liners had limited appeal. After all, crew members don’t enjoy the same amenities as paying customers.
“It was a little taxing,” Heald said of life in the cramped quarters.
In addition, he also lived aboard a bus, touring with the Glenn Miller Orchestra.
For Heald, the Nebraska plains are certainly a change.
Heald, 27, is now serving the United States Air Force in its Heartland of America Band based out of Offutt Air Force Base on the outskirts of Omaha.
He plays baritone saxophone with The Noteables, a 13-member jazz ensemble.
The Noteables will give a free performance at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 1 at the Bowlus Fine Arts Center. No tickets are necessary for admittance.
FOR HEALD, the transition from his native Southern California last summer to Nebraska was a test of his and his wife’s mettle.
“It’s been a growing experience,” he said diplomatically of the frigid winter with which the year began.
His wife is a former pastor specializing in children’s ministries. She now teaches preschool in Omaha.
Heald began playing saxophone when he was 10. He was the lone musician in his family in Yorba Linda, a suburb of Los Angeles.
His elementary school offered a strings program as early as fourth grade and regular band beginning in fifth.
“We were extremely lucky,” he said of the offerings.
He discovered his talent early and his teachers told him “to play until they don’t pay you anymore.”
His position with the Air Force allows him to do just that.
“It’s the only opportunity I had to support my wife and do what I love doing,” he said.
He also studied at California State University at Fresno, pursuing a performance degree, but did not complete it.
THE NOTEABLES play a wide range of music, “from Glenn Miller to the music of today,” Heald said.
Heald refers to modern bands such as Incubus and performers such as rapper Kanye West, jazz composer Jim McNeely and pianist Maria Schneider as his favorites.
When he’s not playing with the band, Heald’s position is to recruit and stage auditions for prospective members.
He and the other band members are also active members of the military, training to be at the ready to be deployed overseas where they would still serve as band members.
Their role is important to “bring up morale,” Heald said, with their uplifting music.
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