<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/usag-yongsan/3540835189/" title="Top 40 artist Edwin McCain entertains military families during his May 14 visit to Yongsan Garrison. Best known for his hit single "I'll be," McCain has toured bases in the Middle East, Europe and Asia, U.S. Army photo by Spc. Jason C. Adolphson"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3650/3540835189_964f5b44fa_m.jpg" width="240" height="159" align="right" hspace="10" alt="Top 40 artist Edwin McCain entertains military families during his May 14 visit to Yongsan Garrison. Best known for his hit single "I'll be," McCain has toured bases in the Middle East, Europe and Asia, U.S. Army photo by Spc. Jason C. Adolphson" /></a><strong>YONGSAN GARRISON, Republic of Korea</strong> - Edwin McCain performed a concert outside Main Post Club May 14 not as a Top 40 star with well-known hits like "I'll be," but as a guy having fun on stage with his band while bringing entertainment to troops.

"I just like getting up there and playing with my friends," McCain said before the show. "We aren't needy performers, so what the crowd gets out of today's performance is entirely up to them."

About 200 Yongsan community members clapped, waved their hands in the air, sang along with his songs and laughed at McCain's jokes between performances.

"This has been absolutely awesome," Air Force Maj. Michael Yi said after the show. "My wife and I have some of his songs at home and the live performance sounded better than his CDs."

While some artists use military concerts to enhance their own image, McCain said he wasn't going to tout his patriotism for entertainment purposes. However, he does write songs that relate to men and women in uniform, such as "Take me," which has military metaphors; and "A prayer to St. Peter," put together from a prayer written for Soldiers during World War II.

"The 'Prayer to St. Peter' song is a touchy thing because it's about Soldiers who have given their lives," McCain said. "I've received letters from Soldiers about the song and played it at funerals, but you don't want to take credit for that; you just want to be part of that consciousness that allows us to be there for somebody."

McCain said he likes to keep things light and simple.

"Sometimes it's better to be funny than good," McCain said. "Last night I had a conversation with a girl who was a medic in Iraq and she said specifically - 'Thank you for not playing the 'Prayer to St. Peter' song, because I don't think I could have held it together. I was in Iraq for too long and I'm just glad I got to come here and be happy.'"

The musician widely known for his 1998 hit release "I'll be" - voted "Best Wedding Song" by more than a million viewers on the Dr. Phil Show in 2005 - said he has military ties in his personal life.

"My uncle was a weapons systems operator in Vietnam, my father was in the Air Force and a very good friend of mine is in the Marine Corps and done two tours in Fallujah [Iraq]," McCain said. "Musically, we perform the same with mainstream audiences, but internally, I feel like we're part of something here and the band has come to do its part in supporting the troops."

Following the show, McCain became better acquainted with the audience by sticking around to sign free CDs and posing for photos with community members.

"It's great to actually meet a star because a lot do the show and then take off," Yi said. "He's more personable and so down to earth that he brings stardom down to our level. My wife and I have been fans ever since his first album."

The Navy MWR-sponsored tour marks the second consecutive year McCain has brought his live performance to troops. His trips have included parts of Europe, Africa, Bahrain, Japan, Korea and more.

"After going to places like Germany where you're performing for children and spouses dealing with an 85 percent deployment rate, my wife and I realize a month-long tour is nothing compared to the year or more troops spend away from their families," McCain said.

When it comes to entertaining the troops, McCain says he's always willing to report for duty. "Strap me down in a Black Hawk or Humvee and I'll go anywhere they want to take me."

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Page last updated Mon May 18th, 2009 at 22:06