Friday, December 23, 2005

The Second Amendments

By SAM HANANEL, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON - They may be politicians, but they're also a little bit country and a little bit rock 'n' roll.
An all-congressional band known as the Second Amendments will perform for U.S. troops over the holidays during a trip to the Middle East and Europe.
The bipartisan rock and country band features Reps. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., on guitar and lead vocals; Thaddeus McCotter, R-Mich., on lead guitar; Dave Weldon, R-Fla., on bass; Jon Porter, R-Nev., on keyboards; and Kenny Hulshof, R-Mo., on drums.
"It's always nice to have a double meaning," Peterson said. "We are all in favor of the Second Amendment."

The five-city tour is part of an official congressional fact-finding trip between Christmas and New Year's Eve that will take the band to Iraq , Afghanistan, Kuwait, Pakistan and Ramstein Air Base in Germany.

The group will conduct official business by day and entertain the troops by night, with covers running the gamut from the Beatles and the Eagles to George Strait and Toby Keith.

"We hope we can boost morale a little bit and join the troops over the holidays and remind them that we're a bipartisan group that supports their efforts," Hulshof said.

Peterson has been playing guitar solo and with other bands for years, but never had a true lead guitarist to work with until this year, when someone mentioned McCotter's talents. By April, the new band was in full swing, holding practices and playing some small venues.

Hulshof is a self-taught drummer who's played since he was a kid. He says he learned by listening to eight-track tapes of the Doobie Brothers.

"I make up in lack of talent with enthusiasm," Hulshof joked.

The group has a motto: "No politics, just rock and roll." And political correctness never interferes with good music. Their repertoire includes the Rolling Stones' "Brown Sugar" as well as an old Mickey Gilley song, "Don't the Girls All Get Prettier at Closing Time.""It's all music, it's all good," Hulshof said.

The band's big coming-out party was in August, when they played in front of 40,000 people at a music festival in Detroit Lakes, Minn., Peterson's hometown.

Through Peterson's connection to country music legend Willie Nelson, a longtime friend, the group also played in September at the 20th annual Farm Aid benefit concert outside Chicago.
"People expect that we can't play, so we always exceed expectations," Peterson said.

The USO, the private organization that entertains U.S. troops overseas, approached the band, but Peterson said they decided to tour as a congressional delegation to avoid bureaucracy.

"We've worked pretty hard the last several months as our schedules are met to steal away a little time for rehearsal," Hulshof said. "We're a novelty act for about 10 or 15 minutes, but then we have to show some talent."

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