Chris Kridler -
Space Coasting, FL - 03/11/2010
Surf Rockers Get Muddy, Dusty During Iraq Tour
The Danny Morris Band just took its Space Coast surf rock to its farthest-away tour ever -- Iraq.
"We flew commercially from here to Kuwait. And then Kuwait to Baghdad and all around the bases was military transport," Morris says. "It was pretty cool. We had to wear the required flak gear and helmet. We flew the C-130s to Baghdad, and then once we got to Baghdad . . . we would load up our stuff in the Blackhawk helicopters, go out to the base, do a show, load back up, fly in the helicopter to another base, do a show and come back to Camp Victory Base, where we were staying, which was one of Saddam's old hangouts."
Morris and bandmates Mike Tolnay and Frank Hetzler put in 14-hour days on their tour, which was arranged by a military morale officer who'd caught a performance more than a decade ago.
At some of the forward outposts where they played, troops didn't believe the flyers advertising the concert. "They just couldn't believe there was a band coming," Morris says, "so they were just absolutely grateful and just showed us a really awesome time and a great experience for us."
The troops count boredom as one of their enemies, he says. "There's no drinking at all. None at all. They were saying that other than playing a video game or something, there's not much to do."
There were a few fans and familiar faces in their audiences, including the son of a Cocoa Beach fan who was the spitting image of his dad.
While the band stayed at Camp Victory, a pond-rich resort complex built by Saddam Hussein, they were mostly in the air (Morris is used to that; he's a pilot, too) or performing. "We were totally spoiled by this trip, because we're used to carrying our own equipment, and we had guys that helped load stuff into the helicopters," he says.
"We travel light anyway, here, so I was kind of like, uh, we don't need that big speaker. We don't need that big speaker. And we were playing at some of the smaller, some of the forward operating bases, so really less was best anyway."
He came away with impressions of Kuwait ("dusty, dusty, dusty, dusty!"), Baghdad (after rain, "muddy, muddy, muddy, MUDDY!") and the troops and military leaders he met: "These are extraordinary guys, you know. You realize how smart and how professional they are."
Morris left T-shirts and CDs behind and took good memories with him.
"It was definitely a really cool experience," he says. " . . . We were there to support the troops and give them some entertainment while they were out there doing their job. That's what our goal was, and we accomplished that goal, and in the meantime, they really showed us a great time."
The band's next performances in the area are March 20 at Sebastian Beach Inn and March 24 at Coconuts in Cocoa Beach. Learn more at www.dannymorrisband.com.
Contact Kridler at 242-3633 or firstname.lastname@example.org.