Kunsan airman's guitar skills a ticket to backstage passes
OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea — When Airman 1st Class Shannon Davis was stationed in Louisiana, his rock band played gigs in Shreveport about once every two weeks.
Now stationed at Kunsan Air Base in South Korea, Davis has his acoustic guitar with him but hasn’t played much.
But then came the news that the big-selling rock band Hootie and the Blowfish would perform at Kunsan this month, headlining an Air Force-sponsored tour of several Pacific bases.
The tour prompted base officials to hold a “Sing Like Hootie” karaoke contest. The winner was promised a backstage pass to the concert.
Then Davis heard an airman friend was planning to enter the contest.
“I thought, ‘Sounds like fun. I’ll do it too,’” said Davis, 20, of Abilene, Texas, an engineering assistant with the 8th Civil Engineer Squadron.
A few weeks ago, 11 contestants took their turn in front of a 40-member crowd at Kunsan’s Loring Club for a preliminary competition, Davis said.
Though most sang Hootie songs karaoke-style with recorded music coming over the speakers, Davis accompanied himself on his acoustic guitar and sang a Hootie number, “Time.”
The crowd voted by written ballot; the surviving five singers, including Davis, went into the final Friday at Kunsan’s Falcon Community Center.
This time it was a crowd of about 60, many from Davis’ squadron.
“There was a lot of people,” said Davis, “Everybody’s just drinking and having a good time.”
He did the Hootie tune “Hold My Hand.”
“After that I unhooked all of the equipment I had brought … I think I just got a beer and went and watched the rest of the contestants.”
After the last song was sung, the audience submitted their votes, so officials could read the winner.
It was Davis.
“Everybody was cheering and whatnot, handshakes all around,” Davis said Monday, just hours before the Hootie show was to open.
The band’s Monday performance at Kunsan was part of a Pacific tour that began Friday night at Misawa Air Base in Japan. Wednesday, the band is to play at Yokota Air Base in Japan; Friday night, at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii.
Although Hootie and the Blowfish are headlining the tour, the opening act for Monday’s show was the Pacific Air Forces Band of the West and the Air Force Reserve Band, playing contemporary rock music. Also on the tour are four members of the New England Patriots cheerleading squad.
As the big evening drew closer Monday, Davis was looking forward to his backstage pass.
“It sounds like a cool deal,” he said. “I’ve never really met any professional musicians.” Because he plays music also, he said, “it’s going to be interesting to meet them and ask them what it’s like, see what it’s like to tour the world.”