Sarge and the Aeromen
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Sarge and the Aeromen

Tampa, Florida, United States | SELF

Tampa, Florida, United States | SELF
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Sarge and the Aeromen
Cleared For Takeoff
Tweedtone Recordings, 2009

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As much as by accident as by design, this Tampa Bay-based foursome has forged a unique musical identity, melding punk rock-influnced drumming, big band-lovin’ upright basslines, twang-happy Telecaster and honky-tonk piano stylings into a cohesive whole, yielding a sound equally pleasing to the casual music fan as well as rockabilly’s more open-minded aficionados.

Born in Salida, Colorado, bassist Mike Daley joined the Air Force in 2001 and soon after separating from the service in 2005 moved to Florida. Already an accomplished trumpeter, Daley took up the upright bass in 2005 and quickly mastered the coveted triple slap as well as more subtle techniques. A native of Spartanburg, South Carolina, drummer Chris Pack joined the Air Force when he was 21. Everything was fairly uneventful ... until the day he went home for his week of leave before getting to his first real duty station: September 11th, 2001.

The two met in April of 2002 serving in the 6th Air Mobility Wing (AMW) 6th Aircraft Maintanence Squadron (AMXS) while on temporary assignment at Homestead Joint Air Reserve Base. They were/are both KC-135R/T (those ginormous “flying gas stations” used for midair refuelling) Crew Chiefs. Chris mustered out after his contracted term of service while Mike continues to be with 927th Air Refuelling Wing (ARW) 927th AMXS and was just awarded a Pilot Slot with 63rd Air Refuelling Squadron 927th ARW. Both reached the rank of Staff Sergeant (from which Sarge and the Aeroemen, the band, gets its name) and both served in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation South African Anaconda, as well as Operations Northern Watch and Southern Watch. Just like the recruitment literature promised, Uncle Sam sent Mike and Chris all over world, including much of the US, Hawaii, Alaska, Diego Garcia (an island in the middle of the Indian Ocean), all over Europe, Middle East and Asia.

Guitarist Mark Warren is the sole native Floridian in the lineup as well as the only member not to serve in the armed forces (though he really, really likes to watch The History Channel); he’s been fortunate to have travelled a good deal in Europe and the United Kingdom as well as around the South and Southwestern United States. Mark is perhaps most familiar to Tampa Bay audiences via stints with noted combos the likes of Barely Pink, Vodkanauts and Leonard Croon Band. Mark got to know Chris when he (Chris) would attend Vodkanauts shows; in fact, Chris met his future-wife Juliet at one and the V’nauts were pleased to perform at their wedding. An online ad placed by Chris and Mike for a replacement guitarist caught Mark’s eye and on a whim, he offered his services. To the delight of all, much musical common ground was quickly found in artists like the Ramones, Jerry Reed, Hank III and Stray Cats.

Initially, Sarge and the Aeromen operated as a guitar/bass/drums trio but eventually, a desire to flesh out the band’s sound prompted Mark to enlist his Vodkanauts bandmate, keyboardist Ryan Arsenault. Born in San Diego, raised in Redding, California, Ryan is also a former member of the US Armed Forces who joined the Army in early 1997 and lived an oxymoronic life for the next seven years as an “Army intelligence analyst.” He travelled around the US, lived in Korea for a year with the 6th Cavalry Brigade (an aviation unit, AH-64 Apache attack helicopters), eventually reaching his final assignment destination at MacDill at Central Command where upon separating from the Army, he promptly transitioned to the civilian side of the house at CENTCOM in late 2003. Ryan’s current job is “reading, writing, briefing people far more important than me who scare me with their incompetence, and acting like I know what I’m talking about on Middle Eastern affairs.” Ryan has travelled to Qatar, Kuwait, and Iraq as a part of his civilian job, as well as the occasional, more comfortable and enjoyable destination, such as London and Washington D.C.