Buffalo Grove native performs at Obama inauguration, four others
U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Andy Axelrad, a Buffalo Grove native, plays a saxaphone solo during the Air Force Band's 2012 Jazz Heritage Series. One of Axelrad's first performances of 2013 was in Washington, D.C., when he marched in his fifth inaugural para
Updated: February 5, 2013 12:44PM
BUFFALO GROVE — Performing at President Obama’s second inauguration this month was a fifth-in-a-lifetime experience for U.S. Airforce Master Sgt. Andy Axeland, a veteran to these historic milestones.
Axeland performed with his branch’s premier musical group, the Airmen of Note, during President Obama’s second inaugural parade on Jan. 21.
The event was Axeland’s fifth in two decades: He joined the Air Force in January 1993, teamed up with the Airmen a month later, and was in basic training during President Clinton’s first inauguration.
The Buffalo Grove native plays the saxophone, flute and clarinet. He has spent his entire career with the Airmen, which traces its roots back to jazz legend and soldier Glenn Miller’s Army orchestra.
Q: What is it like to perform for the Commander in Chief?
A: It’s always an honor to perform for the Commander in Chief. This is the fifth inauguration that I’ve done. We’re in formation, and we’re not supposed to be looking around, but I did get to look into the warm and comfortable boxes and see some of the people sitting there.
Q: What made you want to join the Air Force?
A: I had some friends who were in the band, and I became familiar with the Airmen of Note. I wanted to serve my country by being in the Airmen of Note.
Q: When you were in school, what was the appeal of music to you?
A: I thought everyone had the same record collection, but, my dad and mom had a lot of jazz records. When I went to grammar school, I would talk about jazz performers, and no one knew or had ever heard of them. And that gave me an in, right there.
Q: Where all have you performed?
A: Oh my goodness (Axeland chuckles for a moment). It would probably be easier to say where I haven’t performed. We’ve been to Europe, Japan, and of course all over the United States. We’ve been to central and southern Asia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Italy ... did I mention Turkey? Belgium.
Q: Has the band gotten play in the northwest suburbs?
A: We have. It’s been quite a while. There’s a Midwest band convention in Chicago, and periodically we’ll go there. We’ve played in Waukegan.
Q: Was this the coldest inaugural parade you’ve marched in?
A: That was definitely not the coldest, but I was mentally prepared for it. The coldest was Bush’s second. Of course, there’s been some snags here and there. In Obama’s first one, Senator Kennedy collapsed. There was a delay of about two hours.
Q: What is your future with the Air Force?
A: I’m planning on staying four more years, which is all that’s allowed at my current rank. If you a rank of E-9 — I’m currently E-7 — an E-9 can stay a maximum of 30 years.