Brad Paisley Shares Details of Secret Afghanistan Trip
The singer, who flew to Bagram on Air Force One to surprise the troops for Memorial Day weekend, admits he had to make a few adjustments to his schedule in order to make the trip possible.
“The problem was that I was the headliner for the Tree Town Music Festival in Iowa,” he explains (quote via Taste of Country). “So I called the booking agent and just said, ‘Look, I can’t really tell you why, but there’s something that’s very, very important to me that would really do a lot of good and I’d really love to do it.’ I offered to go on earlier in the day so I could still play, and to take a huge pay cut. It’s a first-year festival, and those things don’t always know if they’re going to make money, so in that sense it [was helpful to them]. So I performed, got on a plane to D.C. and then got on a bigger plane and flew to Afghanistan.”
The 'River Bank' singer spent the long flight chatting with the crew, security, special forces and press about various topics, including the hit TV show, 'Nashville.' When they arrived at the military base, Paisley played for about 55 minutes before President Obama addressed the troops.
The West Virginia native says he spent a lot of time carefully selecting his song selection before he took the stage.
“I’ve got some songs like ‘This Is Country Music,’ which is just perfect," he says. "You know the last verse is like, “If there’s anyone who still has pride for those who died defending the old red, white and blue. This is country music and we do.’”
“And I knew they’d wanna hear ‘I’m Gonna Miss Her’ and ‘Alcohol,'" he adds. "They really wanna hear ‘Alcohol’ because … they’re not allowed to have it.”
Because the trip occurred under a cloud of secrecy, Paisley says he was in awe of how the entire mission was orchestrated.
"It was complete and total radio silence on the way over," he says. "They lifted that and then the doors [on the plane] opened. So then the clock is ticking to get out. You’ve got to think that that’s the biggest target in the world at that point and you have to be smart about it.”
Chances are good, Paisley won't have to alter his plans for any secret government missions when he performs at the Taste of Country Music Festival in Hunter, N.Y. next month. He joins an all-star line-up for the three-day event, held June 13-15, including Dierks Bentley, Thomas Rhett, Thompson Square and Craig Morgan. Tickets are available for purchase here.