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Free concerts return to San Francisco Fleet Week

Navy Band Southwest's Destroyers rock ensemble have performed at music festivals and for heads of state. | Source: Courtesy U.S. Navy

The Blue Angels are usually considered the stars of San Francisco Fleet Week, but did you know that the Navy and Marines also spread out throughout the city to showcase the musical talents of service members? 

From the Ferry Building to Golden Gate Park, musicians from the Navy and Marines will demonstrate their skills as instrumentalists in a series of free concerts at local parks and landmarks throughout Fleet Week. 

The U.S. Navy Band Southwest performs at the Italian Heritage Parade during San Francisco Fleet Week 2015. | Source: Courtesy U.S. Navy

Woodwind, brass and rock ensembles from the Navy’s 45-member Navy Band Southwest, one of the military branch’s “finest and oldest continuing musical organizations,” will make appearances at the San Francisco Zoo, Fisherman’s Wharf and also team up with counterparts from the Marines march in Sunday’s Italian Heritage Parade. 

Subgroups and ensembles with the Marine Corps’ 1st Marine Division Band will also make appearances at Chase Center’s Thrive City and at Duboce Park for a celebration of service dogs. 

While previous years have clustered concerts at waterfront locales, neighborhood concerts are the focal point of this year’s Fleet Week. 

“This year, we are thrilled to be performing 39 concerts throughout the city and hope you all come to have a good time,” Navy spokesperson Brian O’Rourke said. 

“We love getting out to the different neighborhoods,” added Musician 1st Class Whitney Adams, who plays oboe and coordinates tours for Navy Band Southwest. “The waterfront is great, but we like getting out in the city.” 

Here’s where you can salute service members and their musical chops this week. For more details and updates, visit the official Fleet Week website.   


1st Marine Division Band—Diamondbacks 

Noon | Thrive City

Known affectionately as “Old George,” this popular music group based out of Southern California’s Camp Pendleton typically provides musical support at military parades and ceremonies and also plays an array of musical styles from the songbook of American pop music. Expect high-energy ditties, led by a Marine Corps vocalist, from genres as wide-ranging as pop, funk, rock, country and R&B.

Navy Band Southwest—Brass Band

Noon | City College Ocean Campus

This sub-ensemble of Navy Band Southwest—also known as the 32nd Street Brass Band—plays covers of Top 40 hits, incorporating jazz, funk and R&B stylings. 

Navy Band Southwest—Woodwind Quintet 

Noon | San Francisco Zoo

Also known as “The Prevailing Winds Woodwind Quintet,” this group blends the sounds of the flute, French horn, oboe, clarinet and bassoon to play a variety of classical, romantic, Latin and Americana compositions. 

1st Marine Division Band—Brass Band 

1:30 p.m. | Salesforce Park 
6 p.m. | Noe Valley Town Square 

Nicknamed the “Old Breed Brass Band,” this crowd-pleasing ensemble mixes dance music, pop songs, jazz improvisation and heavy funk into high-energy original compositions often featuring an equally energetic soloist.   

Navy Band Southwest's 32nd Street Brass Band entertains a crowd at Pier 80 during San Francisco Fleet Week 2015. | Source: Courtesy U.S. Navy


1st Marine Division Band—Ceremonial Band 

Noon | Patricia's Green in Hayes Valley

See and hear full military pomp and circumstance on display as the pride of the 1st Marine Division Band showcases precise drill movements set to inspiring music. The band, which typically provides musical accompaniment at military ceremonies and parades, has performed for U.S. presidents, foreign dignitaries, local military commands and communities throughout the country.

Musicians assigned to the 1st Marine Division Band perform at the Counselor Corporate Reception during San Francisco Fleet Week in 2015. | Source: Courtesy U.S. Navy

Navy Band Southwest—Destroyers

Noon | Crab Wheel Plaza at Fisherman's Wharf

Swing your partner round and round to the jams of this versatile rock-and-pop music sub-ensemble of Navy Band Southwest. The group plays everything from dance music to jazz to country and has rocked out at music festivals and performed for heads of state. 

Navy Band Southwest—Woodwind Quintet 

12:30 p.m. | San Francisco VA Medical Center
5 p.m. | One Sansome 

Navy Band Southwest—Brass Band 

5 p.m. | Japan Town Peace Plaza


Navy Band Southwest—Woodwind Quintet 

Noon | Ferry Building

Navy Band Southwest's Woodwind Quintet features the flute and other woodwind instruments. | Source: Courtesy U.S. Navy

Navy Band Southwest—Brass Band 

5 p.m. | Jane Warner Plaza in the Castro

'Honor Our Fallen Concert'—Marine Ceremonial Band & Navy Woodwind Quartet

6 p.m. | SF War Memorial Herbst Theatre

The 1st Marine Division’s Ceremonial Band combines forces with the Navy’s Woodwind Quintet to commemorate those who gave their lives serving the nation in Iraq and Afghanistan. 


Navy Band Southwest—Brass Band 

Noon | Golden Gate Park Band Shell

1st Marine Division Band—Brass Band 

12:30 p.m. | Cable Car Turnaround at Powell/Market

1st Marine Division Band—Diamondbacks  

12:30 p.m. | Union Square Plaza

Navy Band Southwest—Woodwind Quintet 

4 p.m. | Lakeside Landing

Navy Band Southwest—Destroyers  

5 p.m. | Pier 39 on the Embarcadero

1st Marine Division Band—Ceremonial Band

6 p.m. | Valencia Street


K9 Heroes & 1st Marine Division Band—Ceremonial Band 

10 a.m.-2 p.m. | Duboce Park

The Marines’ Ceremonial Band salutes canine heroes with a special performance at this dog- and family-friendly concert. Service dogs in law enforcement, therapy, search and rescue, and drug-, food- and bomb-detection demonstrate their amazing abilities as their two-legged friends learn more about pet services at vendor booths.  

1st Marine Division Band—Brass Band 

Noon | Polk Street at Jackson Street

Navy Band Southwest—Brass Band 

Noon | Ghirardelli Square

Navy Band Southwest—Woodwind Quintet 

Noon | Chinatown

Marine 1st Division Band—Brass Band

4 p.m. | West Portal Courtyard

1st Division Marine Band—Diamondbacks 

7 p.m. | Westwood


Italian Heritage Parade with Marine and Navy Bands   

11 a.m. | Jefferson & Powell Streets to Washington Park 

The Marine Corps’ music ensemble and Navy Band Southwest team up to march in San Francisco’s annual Italian Heritage Parade, the longest continuously running parade in the U.S. honoring Italian Americans. Pizza master Tony Gemignani and Judge Claude Perasso serve as grand marshals. 


High School Band Challenge with 1st Marine Division Band 

10 a.m.-2 p.m. | Golden Gate Park Bandshell

The United States Marine Corps’ 1st Marine Division Band kicks off a thrilling musical competition where Bay Area high schools battle for $30,000 in prize money to support local school music programs. Watch this free concert in Golden Gate Park to see who will win.