You're a great crowd, Lee's Summit!
Are you ready to get crazy, Des Moines?
Thank you, Djibouti, and goodnight!
Uh ... come again?
One of those exclamations doesn't quite fit, does it? I mean, why would any self-respecting band play in Lee's Summit? Oh, and I guess Djibouti is kinda strange, too.
The tiny African nation is wedged between Eritrea and Somalia at the junction of the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea. It's a small desert wasteland that sits strategically at the mouth of one of the biggest shipping lanes in the Middle East. There are approximately 10 square kilometers of irrigated land in the entire country, the average life expectancy is a whopping 43 years, and yes, I did receive The Times of London Concise Atlas of the World for Christmas last year, why do you ask?
But Djibouti is also just another stop on Pomeroy's fall tour, right after the Kansas City funk-hop group plays the state fair in Hutchinson and just before the band's two-night stand in Ames, Iowa.
Pomeroy is also gigging in Afghanistan, Bahrain, Pakistan, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates for 16 days starting September 19.
OK, fellas. Local musicians are always trying to expand their audiences, but bypassing Kabal and heading straight for Kabul seems a little extreme. There are the usual "Reunion" and "Reinvention" tours, but this sounds more like the "Do You Guys Get the Feeling That Our Agent Is Trying to Kill Us Tour 2004."
Close, but not quite.
In the grand tradition of Wayne Newton and the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders, Pomeroy was recently tapped by Armed Forces Entertainment to entertain American troops perched in the most volatile region in the world. Several months ago, the band's management at Fresh Tracks Music submitted Pomeroy material to the AFE for consideration.
The band emerged from the selection process with an invitation to join the military campaign to bring funk to the fighting men and women. In exchange for the government-paid tour, Pomeroy would be required to log thousands of miles, drop into a percolating war zone, get zero sleep, possibly contract malaria, maybe get shot at and play a dozen or so shows in places like Bahrain and Qatar.
"We had to get out the globe because we were like, 'Where the hell is Qatar?'" says Pomeroy guitarist and vocalist Matt Marron. "These are foreign countries in the true sense of the word ... but when else would we ever get to go to Pakistan or Afghanistan?"
Um, I'm going to go with never. Which would be perfectly fine with several members of the extended Pomeroy family, who are uneasy about the whole thing.
"That's the moms," Marron says. "They are in agreement -- 'no' across the board. All the dads are like, 'Dude, that kicks ass!'"
Pomeroy will have military escorts for the duration of its Middle East swing, but the band members have taken to the Internet in earnest to absorb as much as possible about the countries and cultures they will visit.
"You don't want to disrespect anybody," Marron says. "You also don't want to go down to the market and get your eyes cut out for looking at a woman the wrong way."
The government has advised the band members to exercise in preparation for what promises to be a draining, whirlwind trip. For security reasons, they won't see an itinerary until a few days before they leave, and they've been counseled to get immunizations against malaria, tetanus and hepatitis, and to take along diuretics. Which could come in handy if the band decides to play, say, America's Pub upon returning.
"We're already immune to that place," Marron says, laughing. "That's called abstinence."
Onstage, Pomeroy exudes a vibe suited for the sorts of house parties frequented by puka-shelled Fratesians and halter-topped Sorostitutes, which could play differently in a sweltering airplane hangar crowded with jarheads wearing fatigues and carrying M-16s.
Talk about a tough crowd.
But Marron is confident that Pomeroy's rousing sound -- and particularly its crowd-pleasing covers, such as Charlie Daniels' "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" and A Tribe Called Quest's "Scenario" -- will translate for soldiers on a mission that causes mixed emotions in an entertainment-starved environment.
"We're not going over to support a cause," Marron says. "We're just playing music for troops who are just doing their jobs. Hopefully for 2 hours we can help them forget about what they'll have to go through the next day."