Saturday, October 29, 2011

Above & Beyond

Johnny:  Djibouti

It’s my belief that music has the power to make a difference, to bring people together.
It has the power to reach the most youthful and pure part of the human spirit.
Photo by Staff Sergeant Renae Saylock USAF
Throughout our travels, I have had the great fortune to meet others who share this belief.

The US soldiers at the Navy installation in Djibouti, Camp Lemonnier, were supportive of us and our music before we even touched down.  They provided us with equipment, attended each and every master class and performance, sketched pictures and took photos of us during our concerts, and basically made us feel at home at every turn.
They even invited us to play at Camp Lemmonier.  Their first order of business was to introduce me to the embroidery wizard.  Seriously, this guy of Filipino descent was like a character out of Harry Potter movies.  He had my last name custom-embroidered (FREEHAND!) in less time than it takes me to say it... he even spelled it right!

I am always amazed by what humans are capable of when they are so skilled at their craft that it becomes as natural as breathing.

To some, spreading good will and striving to make positive change comes this naturally.

Meet Command Sergeant Major Rick Matticks, a great guy:

CSM Matticks honored us by giving us his coin, a momento that I will certainly cherish as a special memory of my time at Camp Lemmonier and a symbol of our continued friendship.

We played a concert following the Khaki Ball, where many service women and men were honored and promoted.  In the air of celebration, we played American songs and even fielded a few requests with new guest vocalists.  We ended the evening with a giant jam on the undeniable “Mustang Sally” with the resident band “The Horns of Africa.”
See those guys with us in the photo below?
This is what great service men look like.
I am proud to know them.  I am grateful for what they do each and every day.
I am honored to call them friends.

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