HighRollers Rock Out
May 16, 2008
CAMP TAJI, Iraq (Army News Service, May 16, 2008) - Sounds of The Eagles, Bon Jovi, and original music by Spc. David Palmer, echoed through the night as the HighRollers band performed May 10 at the Camp Taji Mudhouse on an open mic night.
Six months ago, the band was merely three people looking for something to pass the time.
"Barker and I started out with an acoustic guitar and a set of bongo drums," laughed Staff Sgt. Benjamin Reyes, the band's lead vocalist, percussionist and drummer. "Later that day, Palmer joined in to give us a total of three 'bored' members."
Songwriter, vocalist and guitarist are among the many talents Palmer, assigned to the 165th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 1st Sustainment Brigade, in support of Multi-National Division - Baghdad, has brought to the band since he joined. He is also the only member able to say he was once on American Idol.
"I love music, and that's all there is to it," said Palmer, who plays rhythm guitar and sings vocals for the band.
Since then, many other Soldiers in the unit have joined the band, looking for an escape from the long deployment months. Steadily growing, the band is presently seven deep with members from various ranks.
The band's members include: Reyes, Palmer, back-up drummer Sgt. Michael Kilroy, vocalist Sgt. Antares White, lead-bassist Sgt. Brandon Jones, lead-guitarist and harmonica-player Spc. Malcolm Barker and vocalist Pfc. Carl Ross.
For the most part, the band performs its favorite songs, which range from rock to the blues. The HighRollers also pride themselves on giving their own unique twist to their all-time favorites. For example, how often is Lynyrd Skynyrd's Sweet Home Alabama performed with a b-box, free-style rap twist to it'
One of their goals is to produce a Mudhouse CD and leave behind a piece of music history so they have a recording studio built right into their unit's Morale, Welfare and Recreation room.
"The sound-proof room, now that was a crazy thing! We were going over some songs one night and Barker said how much he wished we had a booth to record in," Reyes said.
Before the room was built, the band was using a padded wall locker located in a Soldier's living quarters.
"After about fifteen minutes of brainstorming, I got up from behind the drums, went out back and got some lumber. It took me three days to get the majority of it done before the guys realized it could work," he continued. "The band has come together so much over time. It has been real fun and given us all the chance to be part of something great."
(Sgt. Jennifer Schweizer serves with the 1st Sust. Bde. Public Affairs Office.)