Kevin Costner delivers at Grafenwoehr
March 31, 2010
By Molly Hayden
- Kevin Costner and Modern West perform for U.S. Army Soldiers
- USO hosts autograph session with Kevin Costner at Grafenwoehr.
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany - The military community has a knack for punctuality. Soldiers and family members understand what it means to be on time. And when you throw Kevin Costner into the mix, they may even show up an hour early.
"I had to get this spot," said family member Amanda Durbin, standing at the front of the line to meet Costner, March 20. "I need Kevin Costner's autograph, he's one of my favorite stars."
Best known as an actor, director and producer, Costner has starred in many movies, including The Bodyguard, Field of Dreams, Dances with Wolves and Waterworld. However, Costner recently found himself in Germany pursuing his own field of dreams AcE+' music. Having stepped into the musical limelight in 2008 with his band, Kevin Costner and Modern West, Costner writes cowboy lyrics and good ole American rock.
Currently touring Europe to promote the band's second album "Turn in on," Costner and his band added the last-minute free performance for Soldiers and family members in Grafenwoehr.
Although he was only able to play one military show while more than "3,000 miles from Graceland," Costner expressed the band's desire to break from its overseas tour schedule to perform the exclusive concert for the Army community.
"This is our day off," said Costner. "But I knew I wasn't going to feel good unless we played (for the Soldiers)."
After a call to the United Service Organizations stating the band's interest in performing, the concert was put together in mere weeks.
For Spc. David Hayward, 3rd Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment, Costner's efforts did not go unnoticed.
"I know he's on a tight schedule, but he still made time and effort to be here," said Hayward. "It's good for the morale of the Soldiers and it shows they support us."
Prior to the concert, Costner arrived to the Main Post USO and came face-to-face with more than 200 Soldiers and family members, shaking hands, signing autographs and exchanging small talk.
An improvisational jam session broke up the signing as Costner and his band grabbed their instruments and played a short acoustic set.
When he announced the title of his first song, "Find that girl," a member of the audience enthusiastically shouted "I'm right here."
Hiding his smirk, Kevin began to sing the original tune, tapping his boot to the rhythm as he strummed his guitar.
The band joined in, singing along, and together they told stories of small American towns and broken dreams.
Although many fans were surprised the award-winning movie star was now a touring musician, many were actually impressed by his music.
"He has a really relaxed sound," said Spc. Chris Shy, 8th Medical Logistics Company who drove more than 400 kilometers from his station in Miesau, Germany, to meet the superstar. "I think a lot of actors try to become musicians, but (Costner) has talent. He can rock."
Costner's musical transition was enough for Pfc. Anthony Payne to immortalize his interaction with the entertainer in the form of a tattoo, stating Costner's signature would become a permanent fixture on this left arm.
For Payne, a Soldier with the 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment and a tattoo artist, meeting Costner was something he would not soon forget.
As Costner held a red sharpie near Payne's skin, he tilted his head and asked, "Are you sure'"
(For the record, Payne arrived at the concert a few hours later having personally tattooed Costner's John Hancock on his already brightly covered arm.) Costner's signature joined the ranks of Hank Williams, Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings on Payne's tattooed music arm of fame.
"It's all part of a collection," said Payne.
It is not uncommon for actors to try their hands in the music world. Top stars like Johnny Depp, Kevin Bacon, Billy Bob Thornton and Bruce Willis have recorded albums and launched into the music business.
But for Costner, being a musician and a movie star go hand-in-hand.
"I don't try to separate my movies from my music," said Costner in an interview after the meet and greet session. "A lot of the songs that we'll sing tonight are songs that came while I was making those movies."
Whether he's telling three-minute stories or three-hour stories, Costner dazzles his audience with raw, down-home talent.
"I'm very American," said Costner. "Let's face it, you know, I make cowboy movies. My songs and the songs of the band really reflect America."
Costner explained he, too, was far from home and felt comfort in seeing the American flag wave over the Grafenwoehr community. After playing to a European audience for the past two months, Costner said he was excited to be playing for fellow Americans.
"It's going to be a taste of home," said Costner.
The enthusiasm of the day spilled over into the night as more than 500 community members packed the Main Post Field House for the free concert.
For more than an hour, Kevin Costner and Modern West rocked the crowd. Costner surrounded himself with talented and passionate musicians, but often stole the limelight with his charisma. He danced around stage singing and playing and the audience ate it up. And, like his debut movie role, Costner delivered the big chill.
One fan sauntered through the crowd wearing a homemade shirt that read: "If you build it, they will come," while another lucky fan got a chance to show off her dance moves on stage with Costner.
As the night ended, Costner again expressed his gratitude to the men and women of the armed forces and shared words of encouragement.
"I have played warriors but I never forget I'm not one," said Costner to the crowd. "I believe in American and I believe in you. So I thank you."