Petty Officer Cliff
Murray performing with the Navy rock
band “Passage.” (Image courtesy Navy Band NW)
When you think of military music, marching bands, Taps
and Sousa usually come to mind.
But a select group of U.S. Navy sailors is bringing a
decidedly different sound – Led Zeppelin and Metallica.
Along with the traditional brass bands, it turns out
the Navy also enlists a number of other types of musicians
to help put a contemporary face on the fighting force.
“We’re in some respects kind of a well kept secret,”
says Petty Officer Ted Moore.
“It’s putting a face on the Navy in communities and
areas that don’t see a lot of the Navy and kind of
reminding them of all the ways the Navy supports their
Moore plays drums and leads the Silverdale-based band
“Passage,” and while they rock, it’s serious business.
Band members undergo a rigorous audition process to be
admitted, and once they’re in it becomes a full-time gig.
“This is the only job in the Navy you have to know how
to do before you get there,” says Petty Officer Sarah
Reasner, the band’s lead singer.
The group travels all over the western United States,
performing classic and contemporary rock tunes at
everything from dances to street fairs from Alaska to
“Music lifts people’s spirits, it gets them engaged and
that can be the classical music the brass quintet plays or
us hammering through a Metallica tune,” says Moore.
One of the biggest challenges is letting their hair
down when Navy regulations prevent it. The band members
are required to wear their uniforms when they perform, and
Reasner admits it can get pretty steamy shredding the
Rolling Stones on a hot summer day wearing all wool.
But like they say, it’s not just a job. It’s an
Check out my interview and a live performance with