- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 25, 2005

Congressmen

to take bandto U.S. forces

They rocked out in front of Capitol Hill types, gigged at a country music festival in Minnesota, and then played for a crowd of 6,000 at the Farm Aid benefit in September.

Now, they are going worldwide.

Rep. Dave Weldon, Florida Republican, and the other four members in his congressional rock band, the Second Amendments, will test their fan base in Iraq and Afghanistan this week when they play for American service members.

Mr. Weldon and his band mates — Democrat Collin C. Peterson of Minnesota and Republicans Jon Porter of Nevada, Thaddeus McCotter of Michigan and Kenny Hulshof of Missouri — will perform six evening shows for the troops.

The idea to perform for the troops has been in the works for several months, Mr. Weldon said, after band members decided to do “something special” for soldiers who were away from their families during the holiday season.

The trip didn’t come together easily.

First, the band talked to the United Service Organizations about performing, but there were too many logistical snags.

The members then decided to make their own official congressional trip to the countries, where they would meet with leaders and military officials and, most importantly, perform for the troops.

“It’s a good thing for us to do,” said Mr. Weldon, who plays bass guitar in the band. “It sends a clear message to the troops that members of Congress support them. For us to take time out of our holidays, it speaks very loudly that ‘we care about you.’ It’s an important trip for us.”

Mr. Peterson sings lead, Mr. Porter plays keyboards, Mr. Hulshof is the drummer, and Mr. McCotter rocks out on lead guitar.

In the past, the band has covered songs such as Eric Clapton’s “Wonderful Tonight” and Chuck Berry’s “Sweet Little Sixteen.”

Mr. Weldon said the band mates plan to add some holiday tunes such as “Jingle Bell Rock” and “Blue Christmas” to their play list.

“We’ll do a little bit of everything,” he said. “A little bit of country, a little bit of rock ‘n’ roll.”

Although they might not be able to agree on much when performing their day jobs on the Hill, the lawmakers say their rock band is “politically incorrect and bipartisan. Sort of.”

The Second Amendments — a name band members say does not reflect their views on gun ownership — is the second group Mr. Peterson has put together in recent years.

The original band, the Amendments, broke up after their gigs — like their politics — became partisan and some of the band wanted to play at a Republican fundraiser and then at the Republican National Convention.

This band, Mr. Weldon has said, plays “purely for fun.”

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