Surge band performs for surge Soldiers

By Sgt. Kevin Stabinsky

News story photo
Photo credit: Sgt. Kevin Stabinsky
Bassist Sgt. Benjamin Smith and vocalist Holli Davis sing Rodney Atkin’s number one hit, “If you’re going through hell,” for Soliders at Forward Operating Base Kalsu.
On Dec. 12, ‘The Surge’ bandmembers ventured off their large home base at Camp Victory to come to the smaller outpost at Forward Operating Base Kalsu to better interact with Soldiers who regularly patrol the Arab Jabour and Hawr Rajab areas.

The quintet, consisting of vocalist Sgt. Holli Davis, drummer Spc. Aaron Rademaker, lead guitarist Spc. Theodore Dipietro, rhythm guitarist and the noncommissioned officer in charge Sgt. Joshua Gardner, and bassist Sgt. Benjamin Smith, played for a little more than an hour to diners at Rocky’s, the FOB Kalsu dining facility.

Although the musical set for the evening consisted mainly of country songs, including Rodney Atkin’s number one hit, “If you’re going through hell,” Little Big Town’s “Boondocks,” and recent Kalsu visitor Kellie Pickler’s “Things that never cross a man’s mind,” the band also devoted some time to other musical genres.

The variety of music the band plays is one of the reasons behind the its appeal. To best satisfy their audience, the band takes requests from audience members, said Smith, a native of Geneva, Ill. Any requested song unknown by the band is rehearsed between gigs and added to the bands repertoire.

The rehearsals, which Smith said the band tries to hold twice a day, also help keep the band’s old sounds fresh in addition to teaching them new songs.

“They’re an awesome band,” said Sgt. 1st Class Mike Goodro, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Inf. Div., provost marshal NCOIC. “They are really good as far as a traveling band.”

Even more amazing for the band, which travels around Iraq performing roughly 15 shows a month at outposts manned by 3rd Inf. Div. Soldiers, is that with the exception of Smith, none of the Soldiers holds the band member military occupation specialty, 42R. Instead, the Soldiers come from a variety of jobs and were chosen for the role after auditioning for the part.

“You’ll be surprised at how music can bring people together,” Davis said.

The statement applies to more than just the band. One of the most rewarding experiences about playing is seeing the audience unite in “hoots and hollers” as the band plays, Gardner said.

For Soldiers at Kalsu, the experience did just that. As songs played, feet tapped, heads bobbed and when songs stopped hands began to clap.

“The Army has a lot of talent,” said Staff Sgt. Joseph Lemos, 2nd BCT, plans and operations NCO. Lemos, whose family lives in Hinesville, Ga., said he never heard the band before the dinner show and left with a favorable first impression.

“They were very good,” he said, adding that as a person with no musical talent, he admires the Soldiers.

On a different note, because he does contain some music talent, having played brass instruments in high school, Goodro said he can better appreciate the Soldiers’ skills.

“It takes a lot of guts,” Goodro said of getting in front of a crowd and performing.

Due to their guts, Goodro, whose family resides at Fort Stewart, said Soldiers can get a little something positive. “It is a little touch of home; familiarity.”

Lemos agreed, adding thatSoldiers can get lost in the music and forget about where they are and the troubles they may experience.

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