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Southern rockers entertain troops in Iraq
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While country music stars were preparing for the 45th annual American Country Music Awards in Las Vegas, Zac Brown, lead vocalist and guitarist in the Zac Brown Band, performs in Kirkuk, Iraq, for service members on Forward Operating Base Warrior, Kirkuk, Iraq, April 17. The band was nominated for the entertainer of the year, top vocal group of the year, album of the year and single record of the year; however they skipped the CMA ceremony for a nine-day United Service Organization/Armed Forces Entertainment Tour across Kuwait and Iraq. - photo by Photo by PFC Jesscial Luhrs
FORWARD OPERATING BASE MAREZ, Iraq — The soldiers of Forward Operating Base Marez/Diamondback recently were treated to a concert by the Grammy Award-winning Zac Brown Band. Troops enjoyed the opportunity to take a break from the pressures of deployment and enjoy a brief taste of home.
“I’ll tell you what we tell the crowd every night back home when we play back in the states. We tell them to remember people sleeping in a sandstorm so that we can be free,” band front man, Zac Brown said to the soldiers.
The group’s Southern-rock songs include five Billboard country music chart hits and No. 1 singles such as “Chicken Fried,” “Toes” and “Highway 20 Ride.” The band said it was their duty as Americans to bring the troops overseas “a little bit of home.”
“They were great,” said Pfc. Seth Geiger, with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division. “Some of the songs really remind you of just being back home and hanging out with friends.”
Fans were able to talk with band members after the show as the musicians signed autographs.
“They said it was just part of Southern hospitality, but it was awesome to get a chance to talk to them face-to-face. They really care about what we are doing here,” Geiger said.
During stops on their USO tour, the band recorded many performances for a music video for the band’s single, “Free.”
“The soldiers at the shows were able to wave at their families (during the music video footage),” Brown said. “We want to show our support of the military and just remind everyone that it’s still real and it’s still going on.”
The Zac Brown band was nominated for an Academy of Country Music Entertainer of the Year Award, but members elected to take part in the USO tour instead of attending the ceremony.
“The war isn’t front-page news anymore and a lot of folks forget that there are actually people over there, away from their families, serving our country,” Brown said. “They’ve been giving up months and months of their lives, some of them years, so we’re excited to get to entertain them.”

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