CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE Q-WEST, Iraq - The Devil went down to Q-West, with Charlie Daniels in tow, during a live performance for more than 600 Soldiers, Airmen and civilians at the Morale, Welfare and Recreation base complex here April 18.

The performance was part of a six-stop tour through Kuwait and Iraq, said Lt. Col. Sandra Burt, chief of programs, Multi-National Command - Iraq.

"Q-West doesn't always get the shows that tour through Iraq, but our priority is to get entertainment to the outlying bases," Burt said. "We know that the mission is tough, and these shows break up the monotony and put smiles on Soldiers' faces."

Soldiers' rocked out to classics like "The Devil went down to Georgia," and Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues." Daniels then stunned the room with his version of the Star Spangled Banner, something he hadn't played at any of the other stops in Iraq. The rendition garnered Daniels a standing ovation from the packed room.

"The only reason [I didn't play it at the other bases] was I hadn't thought about doing it," Daniels said.

This was Daniels' third trip to Iraq, one he commemorated with a three-stanza song, "When I get back from Iraq," with one stanza written for each trip.

Daniels said he was proud of the work that military servicemen and women were doing, and always made it a point to go where the Soldiers are.

"We came because you guys are here," Daniels said. "I believe in what you're doing. I can't carry a gun, but I can come out and play music."
Maj. Bill Keltner, chief financial management officer, 16th Sustainment Brigade, said he'd been going to see Charlie Daniels since 1976, when Charlie Daniels would open for Lynyrd Skynyrd.

"I've seen this band more times in concert than any other," said Keltner, a native of Mobile, Ala. "There's that special showmanship that Charlie Daniels has. I felt it when I was 15 years old, and I still feel it today."

Keltner got his Iraqi-made six-string acoustic guitar signed by members of the Charlie Daniels Band.

Daniels told the audience of service members how important they are.

"We have been among you in many parts of the world," Daniels said. "The more I go among you, the more I'm convinced you're the finest we've got."