Former Marshallton man travels world with U.S. Navy Concert Band

Senior Chief Musician James Logan unabashedly radiates excitement and raves about being a witness to history when describing his 22-year career in the U.S. Navy Concert Band.

And the former Marshallton man unapologetically said he could easily talk most of the day about the sights he has seen, the people he has met and the stellar career opportunities he has enjoyed.

Logan lived in Marshalltown from 1970-1981, before his parents moved the family to Benton County in eastern Iowa.

He has traveled the world and the United States extensively in the Navy, but he always finds time to visit Marshalltown.

And dear to him 33 years later, is the memory of a music store long since closed, and several Marshalltonians who nurtured his music career.

“I clearly remember attending St. Mary Elementary School and Anson Junior High,” he said. “And I remember delivering the Times-Republican after school. Marshalltown will always be home.”

Logan said he decided to become a musician in the eighth grade.

Smith Music Store brought in a variety of musical instruments for students to try out.

Logan was drawn to the saxophone initially.

While learning to play the instrument he considered “cool,” Logan broadened his music interests by attending concerts in the Marshalltown High School Roundhouse, where, he saw a “Who’s Who” of musicians, he said, including Marshalltown’s Nick Lane, who has found fame in the music world.

A telling moment came when it was time to purchase a saxophone, but Logan balked – it was too expensive.

A $125 clarinet beckoned, and soon Logan discovered he had found his true passion.

John Flora, a St. Mary educator recognized Logan’s talent with the instrument and helped him develop it.

“He spent countless hours with me … even giving up his lunch hours so I could learn,” Logan said. “He absolutely was central to my development as a musician.”

Logan also crossed paths with former MHS band director Jerry Ellingson who influenced him as well, he said.

The family’s move to Benton County, where he graduated from high school in 1983, did not interfere with career plans.

Again, a Marshalltonian would play a pivotal role in helping shape Logan’s career.

“Pat Springer, a Marshalltown High School graduate, recommended I attend North Texas State University in Denton,” Logan said. “Springer said he received an outstanding education there and I followed his advice. It is a world class institution.”

Logan earned his Bachelor of Music from that school in 1988.

Four years later he decided to join the Navy, where opportunities came to grow personally and musically.

“I’m a musician and also a Navy man,” he said. “I completed boot camp, among other tasks, parallel to my responsibilities with the concert band.”

And entry to the elite concert band was earned, not given.

He had to compete against some of the world’s best musicians in a live audition.

The concert band, considered to be one of the finest wind ensembles in the world, is one of six ensembles that make up the United States Navy Band based in Washington.

And his 22-year career has generated a lifetime of memories, reinforcing his love for the Navy.

“Bottom line, I get paid to make music, travel the country and witness history,” he said. “It has been an honor to be a part of six inaugurals, inaugural balls, presidential funerals, the dedication of the Korean War Memorial, World War II Memorial, and the FDR Memorial.”

He continued his education, earning a master’s from the University of America in 2000 followed by a Doctorate of Musical Arts from Catholic University in 2004.

A highlight among many several years ago was playing as a soloist in St. Petersburg, Russia to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the Russian fleet.

“Standing in front of hundreds of thousands outside of the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg with our concert televised across the country was an awesome experience,” he said.

An experience he labeled as “humbling” is performing at the White House, despite repeated visits.

Logan and the Concert Band are currently on a national tour, which includes 22 performances in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. The band will travel more than 5,300 miles.

But Logan is honored to have the honor of playing before the parents of Navy personnel.

Folks of all ages and backgrounds will come up to us after the concert and tell us with so much pride about their sons and daughters who are serving now,” he said. “Others will share that a late grandfather, father, or uncle served in World War II or other conflicts. It’s how excited I am to have our bands out on the road, sharing our Navy story and Navy music with people all across our great nation.”

But visits to Marshalltown are special as well, and it gives him the opportunity to talk about bygone days with brother Jerry Logan, a resident.

And from those conversations memories of Smith Music, Flora, Ellingson, Lane, Springer and others come to life.

“They were so helpful … they went above and beyond to help me,” he said. “I’m forever in their debt.”