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'Collective Soul' Rocks Djibouti With Live Performance

By Sgt. Bradly Shaver, USMC
Special to American Forces Press Service

CAMP LEMONIER, Djibouti, Oct. 8, 2003 – A live concert featuring the band "Collective Soul" provided a chance to kick back and relax for personnel from the Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa here, which supports counterterrorism operations in the region.

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(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

The concert, sponsored by Armed Forces Entertainment, was part of a Collective Soul musical tour of the Middle East and Djibouti. The band flew into Djibouti Oct. 2 and toured Camp Lemonier, interacted with the troops and lit up the stage that night with a concert.

Task force members packed in as lead singer Ed Roland and his gang entertained the crowd and showed their appreciation for the military members' service to their country.

"The way we look at it, it's an honor and privilege to come here and perform for the troops," said Roland. "It's our way of giving back to those who protect us. The soldiers give us the ability to live our dream -- singing."

The band's performance highlighted songs from the group's recently released greatest-hits CD, "7even Year Itch," featuring songs like "Shine," "Run" and "The World I Know."

Roland and the group's other members -- Dean Roland on rhythm guitar, bass player Will Turpin, guitarist Ross Childress, and drummer Shane Evans -- were able to visit different sections of the camp, interact with the troops and sign autographs throughout their stay.

The service members expressed their gratitude to the band by giving them military souvenirs, gifts and an after- concert party.

Sgt. Lisa Thompson, a Morale, Welfare and Recreation chairman, said she saw a change in the soldiers' attitude when the band members started walking around camp.

"It was a definite morale booster for all personnel here to have Collective Soul come and perform for them," Thompson said. "It wasn't the concert that made the biggest impact; it was how the band stayed and hung out with the troops throughout their time here."

One Marine, not sure what he was in for when the performance began, didn't take long to understand.

"At first when I was told Collective Soul would be performing here, I didn't really know exactly who they were," admitted Lance Cpl. Lucas Embry. "But after they started singing, I had recognized almost every one of their songs.

"It's hard to believe that my first concert was in Africa," he said. "I had a blast, and I'm really glad they came. Thanks for the party, Collective Soul!"

Partying with the troops, lead singer Roland said he enjoys traveling and experiencing different sides of the world, even places as hot as Djibouti.

"I like this place because it's different," he said. "Even though it's blistering hot, the soldiers here still know how to party and have a good time.

"This experience will stay with us forever," continued Roland, speaking on behalf of the band. "I hope we can leave Camp Lemonier a good memory, just as the soldiers here have given us.

"To all those here, keep up the good spirits; safe travels and God bless," he said.

While on tour, Roland and his crew have traveled to Bahrain, Djibouti, Kuwait and Iraq, and will stop off in Italy before heading home.

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