Texas Music Goes To GTMO
U.S. Naval Base - Guantanamo Bay, Cuba
December 9 -14, 2002


Jay Boy Adams, Rob Roy Parnell, Seth James & Dime A Dozen have just returned from a five-day tour, sponsored by Armed Forces Entertainment, to entertain the troops defending freedom in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.  

When Jay Boy Adams returned from a tour to Cuba with Cory Morrow in September, he asked Dime A Dozen (Greg Forest, Cindy Terry and Ron Leatherman) if they would be interested in making the trip in the  future.  In mid November the offer came to join a Texas Music Goes To Cuba Tour with Jay Boy, Rob Roy Parnell and Seth James.  Long time road veterans Jeff Colvin, Paul Culver and Philip Tom joined as the band's rhythm section.

With only one rehearsal with the entire entourage before leaving, the tour jumped on the bus in Comfort the morning of December 9th, spent the night in Jacksonville, Florida that night and arrived at Guantanamo Bay the afternoon of the 10th. 

"It was pretty funny when we got to the San Antonio airport.  The baggage handler at the curb asked us if we had any check-on luggage."  recalls Forest, "He was somewhat surprised that we had 46 pieces of check-on luggage weighing over two tons.  We had every baggage cart in the airport hauling our equipment."  One piece of baggage weighing in at over 225 lbs was refused for check-on by the airlines and after tearing the equipment rack apart in the San Antonio airport, the group was able to get the the package down to only 167 lbs.  The airline still refused to check it and arrangements had to be made to ship another similar piece of equipment overnight to meet the group in Florida.

The duty of arranging the logistics for a troop of thirteen musicians and support personnel in less than a month fell on the shoulders of Blake Olson of 823 Management. The entire tour went perfectly because of his hard work both in advance and on the tour when logistical problems arose.  Olson states, " My hat goes off to Mr. John Field at Armed Forces Entertainment, Craig Basel, who is in charge of all the entertainment in GTMO, and all the musicians and support personnel that took time out of their touring schedule to be a part of this show for our soldiers deployed in Cuba. Thank You."  

Greeted at the Guantanamo Airbase by SGT Rhett Boren & SGT Chris Stadler, Marine Corps reservists from Texas currently deployed to GTMO, the group had trusty native guides.

The group spent the first day troubleshooting equipment and setting up the stage at the Windjammer club, a large venue on the base.  Over all things went very smoothly as the military supplied the troupe with a seasoned and professional staging support team lead by two Jamaicans by the name of Tony & Shorty.  On Wednesday night the group brought their brand of Texas music to the troops.  In a three-hour non-stop show, Texans To Cuba, rocked the house with a mixture of country, rock and blues.

"It was a great honor to entertain our troops in Cuba. I went to bestow the gift of Texas music for our troops , but I think I received a greater gift of patriotism from our armed forces there in Cuba. It was an event to remember for the rest of my life." says Rob Roy Parnell.

Dime A Dozen opened the show with 45-minutes of their "eclectic, obscure and original" material.  Cindy Terry had the audience eating from her hands with an unscheduled rendition of Patsy Cline's "Crazy."  Before Dime A Dozen had gotten off the stage, Texas blues rocker Seth James ignited the stage with a searing set of red hot Texas guitar slinging that left jaws dropping.  After Seth's set, Jay Boy Adams toned the show down for a few songs by performing a short acoustic set including a song he had written especially for the troops in Cuba.  Needless to say it brought down the house.  Before the audience had time to catch their breath, Rob Roy Parnell, master of Texas Roadhouse Blues, took the stage and left the audience gasping with his set.  Rob Roy's set had so much energy, that the crowd got out of their seats and dancing about the entire club. Add a set of Jay Boy Adams' Texas rock to top it off and a very enthusiastic audience went home with a strong dose of Texas's best. To end the show each night the entire entourage took to the stage for a rousing grand finale performing "The Weight".  Jay Boy and Seth traded guitar licks back and forth during the finale, almost in a rookie vs. veteran play, creating a smile on Jay Boy's face when Seth would bend guitar strings in ways that no-one thought was possible.  On Thursday night during the finale many of the members of the audience climbed onto the crowded onstage with the band for the last song.

"It was insane, the entire band onstage and half the audience.  Seth James had wrapped a guitar around one GI and was playing it over his shoulder.  I put a guitar pick in one soldier's hand then grabbed his hand and started playing his guitar with it - the place went completely bonkers," Forest recalls.

In the band's off time they were given a tour of the base including the Northeast Gate into Cuba where a few holdover employees from the Cuban Missile Crisis still enter from Cuba each morning to work on the base.  Many members of the troupe got a sightseeing tour by water on a Coast Guard patrol gunboat that took them around the entire bay.  The island's most visible residents are the hundreds of iguanas that seem to be everywhere.  There are even road signs for iguana crossings.  Wildlife enthusiast Seth James did a bit of "banana rat" hunting Wednesday night in a futile attempt to capture one of the nutria-like creatures to put in Jay Boy Adams' bed.

During this trip, something unexpected happened.  The group was asked to play a show in the field at Camp America - for the soldiers responsible for guarding the detainees.  The security check to get into that area of the base was justifiably intensive and it took the group an hour just to get beyond the checkpoint.  Tearing down a few tons of equipment, moving it across the island and setting it up in time for the next night's show is no easy task and kudos have to go out to Chris Salomone, the cast's sound engineer & Bob Macy, Texas Tech Alumni & long-time running buddy of Jay Boy, for making it happen in time.

The Friday show was delivered under the stars in an outdoor theater at Camp America.  This was the first time that any entertainers had been allowed to perform for these sequestered troops.  "The show at Camp America was one of the most incredible shows I've had the honor to play in my lifetime.  The soldiers at Camp America live and work in extremely rough conditions. The fact that we got a chance to bring this show to them in a field, under the stars was incredible.  It is also where the 142nd Infantry from Lubbock, Tx was stationed.   I am glad I got a chance to play for some of our "home-town" boys deployed down there.  At the end of the day I feel like I really did something important and the self-fulfillment is simply indescribable" recalls Jay Boy Adams.

While the equipment was being broken down and loaded into a truck for the next morning departure the stage was swamped by GIs wanting a CD, photo or just to say "hi" and "thanks."  The group was delighted to see fellow Texans in the crowd from as close as Kerrville and Junction and the commanding general of the base was a Texan from Menard.  The goal of the tour was to show the troops that Texas was behind them all the way and in that succeeded.

After Friday night's show the entire stage was disassembled and moved to the dock for transfer across the bay to the airbase the following morning.  On the morning of departure the musicians were able to share one last handshake and hug with the troops that were cycling back to the US.  In only five days life long friendships were born and a bond between the unlikely pairing of musicians and soldiers was cemented in the hearts and minds of both the entertainers and the troops.  Special thanks to Compadre Record's Brad Turcotte & Billy Joe Shaver for sending approximately 1,000 Billy Joe Shaver CDs with us to give out to the troops stationed in Cuba.

After 14 hours of traveling the group landed at Fort Hood, Texas and got on the bus for the ride home.  Each musician in the troop brought their own special brand of music to the endeavor and was changed by the experience. Plans are in the works for more dates of the Cuban Road Tour and possibly a return tour to Cuba in 2003.

Tour Photography by Jim Dirden

For more information contact:

823 Management
Email: blake@823management.com
Fax: 830-995-4999

Artist Websites:

Jay Boy Adams
Rob Roy Parnell

Seth James

Dime A Dozen


  [ More Photos by Jim Dirden ]  [ Back ]

All Images Copyright Jim Dirden 2002
All Rights Reserved - Reproduction Prohibited