2008 Rockin for the Troops comments
Written by Ann Fong   
Wednesday, 23 July 2008
Hey everyone,

My family and I had a great time at the OSOT Rockin' 2008 concert. This was my 
first experience at a rock event. I love the Beetle rendition by the American English band, then the contemporary rock of the Lt. Dan Band... It's way too cool! .

We danced and made a fools of our selves, sang along, on key and off key with the music, and rocked with the rhythm of the night. This year we had another large crowd from the club and everyone had a great time. Many Wppci members, friends & family attended the concert. Each bringing their practical creature comforts from favorite lawn chairs to finger foods. Also bring treats to share among the many; talking, singing and laughing was the theme to this event. As I looked around I was fascinated by the furniture some people brought to the park, from picnic tables to coffee tables to centerpieces. It certainly was home away from home.

For those who came early, they had the pick of the place, and thanks to Aleida Netzel & Guy Antonides' group a hugh area was staked out for all to enjoy. My family planted ourselves in the front section closer to the stage, not so far that you couldn't see and not so close that you couldn't hear! We wanted to "experience" our first event to the fullest without bursting our eardrums. Next time I will bring ear plugs and sit closer to the stage! The park had a jumbotron that helped enhanced many of the band's singers and musicians, details that would have been lost for people afar to see. 
Overall I can't ever remember seeing this many people gathered at a fundraiser. I heard Dick Biondi mentioned on his show the next day that there were close to 14,000 attendees at the event. Sitting in the front doesn't give you that perspective, but when you stand to see the sitting crowd, it was a sight to behold. I am at awe by the support from families, friends, and the community attending the Rockin' 2008. Even more so, is how Gary Sines & his band working together with the community to create this huge event towards a great cause. America is wonderful in that she places heavy emphasis on the support of all service men and women... Rockin' 08 was a sold out performance!

The weather turned out perfect. It was just one of those days that demanded 
perfection! We started out with storms in the wee hours of the morning, but the 
rain slowed down as we headed to Cantigny. By the time we arrived the sky had 
mostly cleared and the rain stopped. The sun came out sporadically, the air humid, but with the constant breeze it was the cooling factor of what would have been a hot steamy day. 

My husband Tom & I got to meet Gary Sinise back stage and even got his autograph after his test session. We caught him at the right place & at the right time! Initially, Tom thought how wonderful it would be if Mr. Sinise could sign our DVD of Forest Gump, I brought it along just in case and wouldn't you know it... We love seeing Gary Sinise as an actor, now we got to see him as a musician. Never being star struck, I feel closer to him knowing he is a native of Illinois and the fact I got to meet him. Yeah! In the Forest Gump movie, Gary Sinise played the character Lt. Dan and that's where the name of his band originated from. Another treat Tom received was that he finally got the chance to take a picture with Dick Biondi... The last time he tried the photographer (our youngest son) wasn't tall enough to handle the shot, so it never happened. He was flabbergasted that Mr. Biondi remembered the incident. Boy... he was really gung-ho over that photograph because it took him so many years to get it. Great things happen to those who wait!

The opening ceremony had many guest appearances. OSOT's honor guards were all 
women both Active and Reserve. I was very impressed. The Pledge was lead by Miss 
Illinois 2008, Katy Lorenz, the national anthem was sang by Ken Karlso. The 
opening act was performed by a mother daughter duet, Kim & Emily Viancourt with 
a salute presentation to all the servicemen and women. All these people played a special part entertaining the audience.
 
The second act was the comedian performer Tom Dreesen. He too is a native of 
Illinois, who once did opening acts for the Rat Pack in Vegas. His humor was adorable 
and evoked a lot of laughters from the crowd. In addition to the music there were raffle drawings, with first prize being a unique electric guitar, custom hand made by Mike Balinski. It was gorgeous! Only one lucky winner.

The first band was the performance made by American English. It was remarkable! 
Their tribute to the Beetle's music was imitated to perfection. They had three acts where they dressed the part. From the early 60's stages of the Beetle's career to the long hair era of the 70's, costume and all. We sang to them because we knew most of the words. Even though I was never part of the Beetle-mania, I knew the music as well as any baby-boomers. The Beetles was part of a great era in music history. 

The Lt. Dan Band eventually came on and rock the house down! What fun to watch Gary Sinise jamming on his base guitar with his band members. The history behind his band was started with his friend, Kimo Williams, a music composer who was a Vietnam vet and guitarist for the band. Gary & Kimo put together the band with the many talents and eventually committed themselves to one the most rewarding adventures... the USO, this in turn catapulted their music career. 

The band had many talents, there were three female soloists who did a beautiful job singing and audience participation. Amazing intensity of voices. Can't help but have fun. The lead male vocalist was Jeff Vezian. He sang many of the contemporary lyrics to the night's music from rhythm & blues to hip hop. I was fascinated by the two drummers  who turned out to be a husband and wife team. What a talented group of entertainers who pleased the crowd with their passion. A great time and a great place to be at!

I took pictures throughout the event. I hope you will find them interesting 
enough to use for the website and the newsletter. It was a fantastic event and 
I am glad I got the chance to experience it! Thank you all for the opportunity...


Respectfully,
Ann Fong