From playing across the seven seas to teaching at Nicholls, Joshua Hollenbeck has had a globe-trotting musical career that’s taken him from Tobago to Thibodaux. Now in his third year as an instructor of music and assistant director of bands at Nicholls, Hollenbeck directs the Pride of Nicholls Marching Band, the 6th Man Basketball Band and the Jazz Ensemble. Before his career in education, he cruised the world with Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and Carnival cruise lines — sometimes spending as much as seven months at sea while performing in the premier show band and visiting countless locations in North and South America, the Mediterranean, the Middle East and India.
»»Hometown: Tampa, Fla.
»»Instruments: Saxophone, flute and clarinet
»»Education: Bachelor of Music Education from Florida State University, Master of Music from University of South Florida
»»Favorite bands: Earth, Wind and Fire; Tower of Power; and Chicago
»»Travel log: Visited 28 countries on six continents
»»Life on land: Lives in Raceland with his wife, Ali Hagan, and their two dogs
1. What was it like working on a cruise ship?
I played in the show band, which is usually made up of college-educated and trained musicians. These are guys at the peak of professionalism because we have to be well-versed in different musical styles and do a lot of sight reading. Living on the ship is very much like living in a freshman dorm. You’re usually paired up with someone else who does the same job as you, and it is very close quarters. The best thing is the travel. In the same week, I saw the Roman Colosseum, the Sistine Chapel and the Parthenon.
2. What’s the worst part of the job?
Things happen at the same time every day on a cruise ship, so your day is very planned. You don’t get the kind of freedom and uncertainty most musicians are used to on land. That and the food in the crew mess hall.
3. How do you select the music the Nicholls band plays at games and halftime?
I write all the arrangements myself. I play in a few cover bands in the area, and that gives me inspiration. I adapt popular music and stick to things that are fun to keep the crowd engaged.
4. Who are your musical inspirations?
Dean Donataccio, my high school band director — he taught us first and foremost you have to be musical — and my collegiate saxophone instructor at Florida State University, Patrick Meighan. But most of all, my parents. When I played in high school, they weren’t pushy, but they knew this could be something for me and they supported me.
5. Who is your dream band to work with?
I would love to work with the Marsalis family, Harry Connick Jr. or Rebirth Brass Band.
— Written by Nikki Buskey, marketing/communications specialist
This article originally appeared in the fall 2013 issue of Voila! magazine. Click here to read the entire issue.