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The Volunteers Play Kuwait

In July 2010, The Volunteers played a two-week tour of Iraq, performing for fellow Soldiers serving overseas. The tour was a complete success, and this February, The Volunteers built on that success with a tour of Kuwait.

The Kuwait tour wasn't as complicated an endeavor as the Iraq tour had been. As Kuwait is not a combat zone, security wasn't as great a concern, and since the distances between venues weren't as great, the pace wasn't as frenzied. But the members of The Volunteers still maximized the time they were given, offering six performances over six days, once again earning the enthusiastic reception to which they have become accustomed all over the world.

During the tour, The Volunteers had the privilege of performing at the United States Embassy, which was a definite highlight. Another was a "cultural exchange" between The Volunteers and the Kuwaiti National Guard Band. The musicians spent some time together and took turns performing, each giving the other a glimpse of what they do. Like The U.S. Army Field Band, the Kuwaiti National Guard Band consists of several performing components: a Wedding Band, a Bagpipe Band, and a Brass Band that performs both swing and classical music. The cultural exchange was an eye-opening experience for everyone present.

Volunteers in KuwaitLive music can have a powerful effect on a person's morale. When the audience is made up of Soldiers serving thousands of miles from home, the effect can be almost miraculous. "It's a great feeling, bringing them a little piece of home," said guitarist Sergeant First Class Tom Lindsey. "If anything, it was too short a trip." Thanks to The Volunteers for reminding our Soldiers overseas that the thoughts and best wishes of their nation are with them.

Keyboards, drums, electric guitars, amplifiers, monitors, speakers, microphones, cables. Even with a set-up that was significantly trimmed back, Volunteers concerts can be a heavy affair. But the members of The Volunteers did not limit themselves to performances that could use their full concert set-up. They also took acoustic instruments for a much simpler, lighter, more mobile show. "We had our singers, a melodica [a handheld keyboard that is blown through while played], a couple of acoustic guitars, and some hand percussion," remembered Sergeant Major Kirk Kadish, keyboardist and group leader. For Sergeant Major Kadish, the acoustic shows were some of the most memorable: "Between the big shows, we played several impromptu gigs at local clinics. We just asked if we could play for whoever was in the hospital at the time. We played a lot of requests. Those interactions are the ones that stick out in my mind."

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"We've got a great product, let's put it out there." Sergeant First Class John Lamirande