MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- The stage shook with the sound of drums and electric guitars as the speakers rang out with every note played. Each song weaved through the sea of service members and their families during the We Salute You Celebration hosted at Lance Corporal Torrey L. Gray Field, May 17, 2014.
The event was free for service members and families to attend and included performances by the Shuggah Pies, Little Texas, and Brett Eldredge.
“It’s always an honor for me to perform for service members,” Eldredge said. “If I can make their day of hard work just a little better through performing music for them, I’m very proud to do so.”
The Shuggah Pies, an all-female group based out of Nashville, Tenn., opened the venue with some of their popular songs.
Leading up to the concert, the celebration included family events during a small carnival-like festival. It included an inflatable obstacle course, a cart derby, and a wrecking ball inflatable event which had children knocking each other off inflatable platforms and onto an inflatable bed. Concession stands for food and refreshments also lined the streets surrounding the field.
Country music fans had a treat as an older country music band, Little Texas, rocked the stage for the second set of songs. Little Texas is a country music band who was founded in 1988 in Nashville Tenn. The group was disbanded but in 2004 came back together to begin making music again. Little Texas agreed to perform at the Combat Center with only two days’ notice to play for the Combat Center.
“We were more than happy to come out and perform for the Marines even with short notice,” said Dwain O’Brien, rhythm guitarist, Little Texas. “It’s a pleasure for us to be here and we have always been supporters of the armed forces.”
Eldredge returned to the Combat Center for a second time to perform at the celebration. This year he participated in the concert as the headliner for the crowd of service members.
“I opened for the event last year and now as the main act, I’m ready to bring even more to the celebration,” said Eldredge. “The service members here are always great to entertain because the energy they bring makes them one of the best crowds I have had the pleasure to perform for.”
The annual event is free and keeps the roster of acts interesting by having new upcoming artists as well as more veteran popular artists to provide the best show.
“If I can get up on that stage and play music as my way of saying ‘thank you’ to the military in my own way I’m happy to do so,” Eldredge said. “I had a roommate when I lived in Nashville, who served in Iraq, who I was with before I went to begin my music career. He said one of his favorite things while deployed was when artists would come and play for the troops. It always stuck with me because I realized we can help out by breaking up their normal work day and playing music for them.”
Bringing the spirit of country to service members was the goal and the energy of the concert came from not only the country stars performing, but also from the electric crowd of Combat Center fans.