ALPHARETTA, Ga. – Bill Fielder has led an amazing life, but now he simply wants to play some jazz.
For musicians, music is a way of life, not just a hobby. They put an effort in rarely found elsewhere. For Fielder, he drives an hour from Cleveland, Ga. to Alpharetta’s Velvet Note Jazz club for open mic night, where he plays trumpet.
“Music is like a stair step that has no end to it,” Fielder said. “Real musicians will do anything to make music. There’s something that isn’t satisfied in them unless they’re making music.”
Fielder said he is happy fulfilling his two main goals: to be a good trumpet player and to become a better trumpet player. He enjoys singing as well as playing trumpet at Mount Yonah Church in Cleveland and enjoys spending time with his wife Dolores, and obviously, playing jazz at the Velvet Note.
In his younger years, the now-retired Fielder helped create something the modern world takes for granted – night vision.
Fielder is an Air Force veteran who also spent 24 years as a civilian with the U.S. Army. He spent his army career working on soldier night vision technology in Combat Developments and the Dismounted Battle Lab at the Infantry Center, Fort Benning, Ga. There, he participated in the testing experimentation and fielding of night vision technology for the individual soldier, and developed the Operational Requirements Document the Army used to field second generation Forward Looking Infrared systems in the Bradley Fighting Vehicle and Abrams Tank.
“The Army’s goal has been to own the night, and night vision technology has improved to the point where it definitely helps soldiers to be more lethal and more survivable in the battlefield. Each generation of technology has been a significant improvement over the previous,” Fielder said.
After retiring from such an exciting career, most people might consider slowing down, but not Fielder. He had played the trumpet off and on throughout his youth and decided to commit more time to his musical talent after he retired.
“I didn’t want retirement to be the end of achievement,” he said. “Someday I would like someone to say, ‘there’s an old man from north Georgia who can play a little trumpet.’”
Fielder can be found each Thursday night without fail at the Velvet Note on Old Milton Parkway, where he continues to satisfy his own need to make beautiful music.
This article appeared in the July 18 issue of the Revue & News.