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STUTTGART, Germany — Sometimes the shows are small, sometimes they fill the hall.

“We give the same show whether it’s just five military guys there or an arena full of partying, hot girls,” Joel Kelley said.

Kelley, guitarist and lead singer for the rock band Hightower, will be among musicians performing concerts on New Year’s Eve as part of Armed Forces Entertainment.

Hightower will be playing on Sunday night in Mons, Belgium. Shows by other bands are scheduled for Garmisch, Kaiserslautern and Ramstein Air Base, Germany, and RAF Lakenheath, England.

The series is part of a coordinated effort to entertain over the New Year’s holiday, according to George DeGrella, Europe/Balkans regional entertainment coordinator for AFE.

The bands — Ingram Hill, Wild Gypsy, The Fuzz Band, Matt Poss and the Wild Bunch, and Hightower — are each playing a series of shows in Europe. Most of the bands are playing for free, DeGrella said, with AFE taking care of their transportation, lodging and per diem.

“We try to bring quality entertainment when they’re up and coming,” DeGrella said.

One of the bigger names, Memphis, Tenn.-based Ingram Hill, will appear at Garmisch’s Edelweiss Lodge and Resort in cooperation with Navy Entertainment. Ingram Hill has appeared CBS’ Saturday morning “Early Show,” and has warmed up for Maroon 5, among others.

Brad Hays, Edelweiss’ marketing director, said the hotel is booked solid for New Year’s. But people who can make it through the security gate can pay $10 for finger foods, entertainment and the fireworks show after midnight.

“This will be our biggest concert hosted yet,” said Hays, who added that Edelweiss has hosted smaller concerts in its downstairs pub. Ingram Hill will be playing in the main ballroom starting at 9:30 p.m.

Hightower, after performing at Garmisch on Wednesday, was scheduled to play at Hohenfels on Friday before heading for Belgium.

Kelley, the guitarist and singer, said his brother-in-law is a soldier stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, and his sister’s boyfriend recently returned from a deployment to Iraq. Kelley’s father was in the Army, too, and stationed years ago in Garmisch.

So he hoped his band’s original offerings of Southern pop, with perhaps some covers from bands like the Doors and Rolling Stones, would connect with its audience, and let them know that they’re not forgotten just because they’re based overseas.

“We want to just give them a little feeling of home, of going out to a club and seeing a band,” Kelley said.

Live bands

New Year’s Eve

¶ Ingram Hill at Edelweiss Lodge and Resort in Garmisch, Germany

¶ Matt Poss and the Wild Bunch at Vogelweh’s Kazabra Club in Kaiserslautern, Germany

¶ Wild Gypsy at Club E on Ramstein Air Base, Germany

¶ The Fuzz Band at Consolidated Club at RAF Lakenheath, England

¶ Hightower at SHAPE Entertainment Center in Mons, Belgium

Saturday night

¶ Wild Gypsy at Combined Club, Sembach Air Base, Germany

¶ Matt Poss and the Wild Bunch at Club E, Ramstein

¶ The Fuzz Band at Galaxy Club, RAF Mildenhall

(Check for times at local sites)

On the Web:

www.thefuzzband.com

www.hightowerband.com

www.myspace.com/wildgypsyband

www.mattposs.com

www.ingramhillmusic.com

SOURCE: Armed Forces Entertainment

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