Young Wesson musicians to play at Guard event

Published 5:00 am Monday, October 12, 2009

They began playing for accolades and then for fun, and nowthey’re playing because they believe it’s the right thing todo.

Wesson’s Eric Sharp, 15, and Ryan Spear, 14, are taking a breakfrom their weekly acoustic duets at Los Lobos restaurant Saturdayto perform for America’s warriors at a Mississippi National Guardceremony at the Hilton hotel in Jackson.

The high school freshmen have only been playing guitar andsinging together since February, but they jumped at the chance tobear their own expenses and provide free entertainment for soldiersand their families for a Yellow Ribbon Program beginning at 6 p.m.on Oct. 17.

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“We didn’t really ask any questions,” Spear said. “We appreciatedoing stuff like that for the soldiers.”

It may be their rural upbringing, their raising in church orpeople they know who have served their country. They can’t reallyplace a label on their patriotism, but it’s there.

“All she had to do was tell us it was for the soldiers and wewere in,” Sharp said.

She is Lynn Holloway, a contractor for the Yellow RibbonProgram, which pulls together servicemen and their families toprovide them various professional and personal resources before,during and after returning from deployment.

Holloway is a Wesson resident, and heard Sharp and Spearperforming their blend of country, rock and Christian music in LosLobos during one of their regular Saturday night shows. When themusicians made their rounds in the restaurant, meeting guests andtaking song suggestions, Holloway introduced herself and invitedthem to perform at this weekend’s event.

“They sounded really good, particularly to be so young,”Holloway said. “We just got to talking about what I do, and theysaid, ‘What can we do to support the servicemen?’ That’s how thisall got started.”

Holloway’s invitation will place the musicians before thelargest crowd they’ve ever performed for.

Approximately 300 servicemen and their families are expected toattend the Yellow Ribbon Event, which is being held for the168thEngineer Group of Vicksburg, which is expected to return fromoverseas in around one month; the 858th Horizontal ConstructionCompany from Calhoun City, which has been deployed about twomonths; and various members of the Mississippi Air National Guard,who are deploying soon.

Sharp and Spear are feeling nervous about facing the crowd.

They began performing together in February for a talent show atWesson Attendance Center and picked up their Los Lobos gig thatsame night. They’ve also performed for Copiah County’s Relay forLife, but never for anything as organized and far away as theYellow Ribbon Program.

But they’re going to deal with it.

“I guess it’s just out of respect,” Sharp said. “The least wecan do is go play a few songs for them. People don’t realize howmuch they’re sacrificing. We owe them our lives as Americans is theway I see it.”

The duo is preparing a handful of special songs for theoccasion, most notably “Soldier’s Life,” in which they try toexplain in song what soldiers go through. Toward the end of thesong is a line about the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, whichthe musicians believe Americans tend to need reminding about fromtime to time.

“People forget what they felt like when they turned on the TVthat day,” Spear said.