Story and photos by Devin Fisher
Country singers Mark Wills and Josh Gracin kicked off their Crazy White Boys Tour with a free concert at Iron Horse Park June 18.
The Mountain Post was selected as the first of 13 tour stops for Wills, who has performed for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan nine times, and Gracin, an American Idol season two finalist while serving in the Marine Corps.
“We couldn’t think of a better way to kick it off than with the United States Army,” Wills said as he took the stage to a rousing ovation.
Wills said performing a free concert for the Soldiers and Families at Fort Carson was an opportunity to show his appreciation to the men and women in uniform.
“We always try our best to be able to say thank you personally,” he said during a preconcert interview.
“We look at that as a huge honor to be able to come right here to Colorado … and be able to say thank you through our music and shake (their) hands.”
Wills said it was an honor to perform for servicemembers at
“These folks leave their Families to go overseas and do what our country asks of them, so we jumped at the opportunity to … perform for them and their Families here.”
Recalling his days as a Marine, Gracin said it’s exciting to step on stage at a place that feels like home. He said his performance was a way to give back to the men and women who serve their country and hopefully provide them with a night to remember.
“Tonight’s (concert is) a big thank you … to let them know that we support them as well as so many other men and women in this country and we just want them to sit back, relax, have fun … have a good time,” Gracin said prior to taking the stage.
The performers weren’t the only ones excited for the show to begin. Family members Rachel and Rebecca Rohren, sisters on college summer break, staked their claim to seats in the front row more than an hour before the show was scheduled to start.
“I can’t believe we are this close to the microphone,” Rebecca said of the intimate setting with little space between the stage and front row.
The sisters were excited when they found out Wills would be playing at Fort Carson.
“We thought it was just Mark Wills, but today we find out it was also Josh Gracin – that’s a bonus,” Rachel said.
The Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation-sponsored event was provided in response to the number one request DFMWR gets from its customers – big name entertainment, said MacDonald Kemp, DFMWR director.
“Having these two great artists here with us is a fulfillment of that commitment (to our customers),” he said.
The next big event DFMWR has planned is the Salute to America Independence Day celebration. Held July 3, last year’s event drew a crowd of more than 10,000 people, Kemp said.
“It’s a huge, huge event that features lots of different entertainment to include the (Ivy Division Band’s High Altitude Rock Band) playing during the best fireworks in the area,” Kemp said.
For more information on the 4th of July celebration visit http://www.mwrfortcarson.com.