It’s said that combat duty consists of long periods of boredom interspersed by brief moments of terror. In Kabul, Afghanistan, it tends to be long, tedious work hours, interspersed with sleep. In this environment, maintaining one’s sanity often leads to skimping a bit on sleep in order to have some “personal time” – whether it’s working out, reading, playing video games – something.
For eleven guys from five nations, that personal time has come in the form of making music. For the past six months, vinnie031’s YouTube channel has been cranking out videos of their jam sessions by “Kabul Unplugged”, or, later, the “Backfills”. While they suffer from poor acoustics (virtually all of the indoor spaces in Kabul are bare-walled containers or stone buildings), they do show a group of guys with a talent for knocking out challenging harmonies accompanied by a variety of instruments. My favorites are these – covers of the Pogues’ “Dirty Old Town” and Indigo Girls’ “Closer to Fine.” Check ’em out:
At some point, these guys, who also write original music, came up with the idea of recording a full-length CD that would benefit the Wounded Warrior Project. Vince Yznaga’s website describes in detail how they came up with the project and gives brief bios on those who collaborated, and admits that the sound is a bit “rough”:
“Tracks in the dust isn’t a polished studio album that was produced, mastered, and packaged for the public. It is a raw creation; the work of eleven servicemen and civilians inAfghanistan from five different nations, who relax and pass the little free time they have by making music. There are many styles on this album, it does not fit neatly into any cubby hole of classification. But please listen; listen to the voices and sounds of those who spend their lives in the service of others.”
But given limited resources and facilities, the guys have managed to sacrifice hours and hours of sleep into a worthwhile project that will hopefully improve the lot of their fellow military personnel. Looking back on the tenth Memorial Day during the conflict in Afghanistan, I know there are a lot of folks who look for ways they can give back to some of the folks who have sacrificed so much to serve their countries. Tracks in the Dust: Songs from Afghanistan is one such way. It’s only a few bucks.