Although celebrity tours in Iraq are quite common, I have never had the opportunity to attend any of the concerts or meet and greets, apart from my aeronautical adventures with the WWE. Tonight, however, I finally had the chance to take advantage of one of the only perks in being deployed: free concerts from amazing performers... and the Charlie Daniels Band did not disappoint. I've discovered that if you've never heard of the Charlie Daniels Band I need only mention the song "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" which appears in a bar scene from the movie Coyote Ugly and most people in my generation recognize the singer with whom I'm referring.
Anyways! The concert was supposed to be outside at the stadium but we've been having these incredible mutant dust/thunderstorm combinations and apparently Charlie Daniels caught wind of one such dust storm in Balad and requested that his performance in Tikrit be moved inside. Our Red Cross team was lucky enough to have another station cover our queue of emergency messages so we all headed over to the gym and managed to snag great seats front and center on the bleachers.
The concert was really fantastic. Although it seemed like I was the only Yank in the crowd (the audience went ballistic when he played "A Few More Rednecks") his energy was amazing for a 72 year-old and he even played Johnny Cash's Folsom Prison Blue's which got everyone going. He also played the most superb rendition of the Star Spangled Banner I have ever heard. It was acoustic with Charlie playing fiddle accompanied by two guitars, drums and keyboard. The crowd stood and with so many in uniform, shoulders straight, heads high as the fiddle sang, it was quite possibly the most patriotic moment of my life. Nothing short of goosebumps. He closed with the Devil Went Down to Georgia and I couldn't get it out of my head all night.