Multitalented Musicians Rock MWR

Photos and story by Sgt. Chad Menegay
13th Sustainment Command Public Affairs

JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq — The Band Fresh displayed remarkable range at the H6 Morale, Welfare and Recreation Center at Joint Base Balad, Iraq May 7, as their 200 pound bassist and keyboardist, Juan Corona, vocally channeled Michael Jackson and female singer Kelly Becerra mimicked Axl Rose.

A JBB crowd of more than 100 service members applauded the mix of R&B, pop, rock and salsa covers, at times, waving their hands in the air, smiling, dancing, head bobbing, foot tapping and singing along.

“I heard the music from outside, so I came in,” said Staff Sgt. Juan Fuentes, a finance specialist with the 210th Regimental Support Group, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), out of Fort Buchanan, Puerto Rico, and a Toa Alta, Puerto Rico, native,.

Fuentes said he’s up for any activity that gets his mind off of the stress of being deployed.

“It helps the morale,” he said. “I’ve been here for six months, and work gets very routine. Concerts like these are pretty good,” Fuentes said.

Fuentes said he liked the Spanish set — a medley of Selena songs.

“I really love salsa,” said Air Force Tech Sgt. Tabora Temple, director of staff executive for the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing, and a Lubbock, Texas, native. “Plus, they were a top 40 band, so that was my main attraction,” Temple said.

Temple said she’s attended just about all of the concerts that have been offered here.

There are about five concerts per month, said Air Force Staff Sgt. Darlene Gaskill, the entertainment noncommissioned officer for the 332nd Expeditionary Force Support Squadron, and a Hammond, Ind., native.

“We may have five within a two-week time frame,” Gaskill said. “It all depends on what these artists have contracted prior to their arrival here,” Gaskill said.

“They [The Band Fresh] say they try to come out once a year,” She said. “This is not their first time at JBB. They just came here last February.”

“They’re a very diverse group of awesome people, whose personalities are amazing,” Gaskill said.

The band was given a tour of JBB.

“They’ve pretty much been awed with everything that we’ve shown them here,” Gaskill said.

Perhaps the crowd left the concert equally in awe of The Band Fresh and their versatility, but if not, at least some left grateful for their appearance.

“It lets me know that they appreciate what we’re doing,” Temple said. “They’re giving back in whatever way they can.”

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Juan Corona, bassist with The Band Fresh plays a solo May 7 at the H6 Morale, Welfare and Recreation center at Joint Base Balad, Iraq. More than 100 service members were in attendance. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Chad Menegay)

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The Band Fresh performs for a crowd of more than 100 service members May 7 at the H6 Morale, Welfare and Recreation center at Joint Base Balad, Iraq. The band is based out of Los Angeles. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Chad Menegay)

 

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Kelly Becerra, vocalist with The Band Fresh (left) sings a rendition of Madonna’s Like a Virgin that induces shouts and high fives from the crowd, while David Montolongo sings backup vocals May 7 at the H6 Morale, Welfare and Recreation center, Joint Base Balad, Iraq. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Chad Menegay)

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David Montolongo of The Band Fresh, sings with ferocity May 7 at the H6 Morale, Welfare and Recreation center at Joint Base Balad, Iraq. The band is based out of Los Angeles. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Chad Menegay)