AL UDEID, AFGHANISTAN — An element of the 571st Air Force Band, headquartered at St. Louis-Lambert Airport, is gaining world-wide fame after a video of one of their performances in Afghanistan went viral.
The video, which has been seen around the world via YouTube, features members of the rock band Sidewinder performing an acoustic version of “Rolling in the Deep” by Adele. The 10-member band is on a 45-day deployment performing throughout the Middle East.
“The YouTube clip has gone crazy,” said Master Sgt. Brian House, of O’Fallon, Mo., a trumpet player and spokesman for the 571st. “It’s virtually across the globe. I found out that a television show in Hawaii used the video and it’s been shown on TV in the United Kingdom and New Zealand.”
As of Tuesday, the video had been viewed more than 780,000 times.
Among those who have seen the video is Carson Daly, the producer of the hit NBC show “The Voice.” Daly was so impressed with the singing of Staff Sgt. Angie Johnson, of St. Ann, Mo., that he contacted her via Twitter and invited her to audition for the show after she returns home.
“Angie Johnson you are awesome,” Daly tweeted. “I want to offer/help you audition for the show.”
“I don’t know how (Daly) found out about the video, but I’m happy he did,” Johnson said smiling. “My jaw is on the floor.”
Popularity of the video also led to an interview with the Fox News Network and invitations to perform on-air from ABC’s “Good Morning America” and Warner Brothers’ “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.”
As the band is still overseas, House believes they may not realize the full extent of their popularity until they return home next month.
“They probably don’t fully know the extent to which all this has grown,” House said. “As the band’s public affairs representative I can tell you it has kept me busy over the last several days and I don’t see it letting up for a while.”
Despite their newfound fame, Sidewinder members deflect the accolades to their audience and the country they serve.
“It is our privilege to come over here and play for the troops,” said Staff Sgt. Brian Owens, of Ferguson, Mo., “We’re playing for our brothers and sisters in arms – the real rock stars and heroes of our country and the best audiences on the planet.”
“It’s all about troop morale,” added Capt. John Arata, of Eureka, Mo., the band’s commanding officer. “We know that troop morale is a force multiplier and, in some cases, a life-saver. We are motivated to bring our audience a quality product – to involve them and make sure they have an enjoyable time.”
House believes the popularity of Sidewinder allows them to serve as perfect ambassadors for Missouri and the military in general.
“The excellence that you see on the stage is the same excellence you’ll see across the Missouri Air and Army National Guard,” he said.
The 571st Air Force Band, also known as The Band of the Central States, is one of 11 regional Air National Guard bands in the country and is part of the 131st Bomb Wing of the Missouri Air National Guard.