Restless Heart’s next multi-show road tour will be an exceptionally long one – about 26,000 miles, give or take a few detours. At least their mode of transportation won’t be the old standby tour bus, but a KC-10 Extender advanced aerial refueler and cargo plane provided by the U. S. Air Force Reserve.
The band departs in early April for an around the world troop entertainment tour with their good friend Lee Greenwood, comedian Dick Hardwick, a few of the New England Patriot Cheerleaders and members of the Band of the Air Force Reserve.
“This will be our third tour with the Air Force Reserve and it looks like it will be our most intense one,” said Larry Stewart, lead vocalist for the group. “In the past, we’ve traveled to bases in Europe ending in Turkey but this time we’ll start in Turkey, go into Southwest Asia and return through Korea, Japan and Hawaii!”
“I can’t tell you how much this opportunity means to each one of the guys in the band,” added John Dittrich, the group’s drummer and vocalist. “To me, there’s nothing more important than saying thank you to our troops and their families overseas.”
“This really is an incredible honor for us,” Larry added. “We have the opportunity to salute our American military the best way we know how. We look forward to sharing the stage with Lee Greenwood, once again having a chance to perform with the Patriots cheerleaders and also playing with the incredible musicians from the Air Force Reserve band – We view this trip as an opportunity of a lifetime!”
The band looks forward to performing their hits which dominated the country and contemporary charts from 1984 to 1995 and to bringing some new hits to the troops. “Since our last trip with the Air Force Reserve in 2003, we released a new album, “Still Restless” and we’ll do some of those tracks,” Larry said. The first release from that album, “Feel My Way to You” climbed the Billboard country charts and hit the top of the Christian music chart. Other songs have garnered the number one position on internet radio charts.
“In fact, the first trip with the Air Force Reserve on Operation Season’s Greetings 2002 was the first time all five original members of Restless Heart had performed together in more than 10 years,” Larry said. “Being back on stage together with the fantastic audiences along with those great Reserve musicians really inspired us and gave us momentum to keep on going and to make new music.”
The military audiences will get to hear a song and see the video they inspired during this year’s tour. “Before we left in 2002, three of the guys (Paul Gregg, Greg Jennings and Dave Innis) wrote “Torch of Freedom” which we performed on the tour. It’s our way of honoring all our veterans, past and present.” In 2004, the band put together a powerful video presentation of the song which brings crowds to their feet at every performance.
The Patriotic World Tour 2006 takes off from Robins AFB, Georgia, home of the Air Force Reserve Command. After a brief stop in Germany to visit injured American soldiers at Landstuhl Hospital, the tour lands at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, to perform the first of seven shows on the two week schedule. From there, the tours goes “down range” into the war zone. The locations of those shows are not being published for security reasons.
It will be a 16 plus hour trip to the next show in Korea. “I think we’re going to switch to the big C-17 cargo plane for that leg of the tour because there’s plenty of room to stretch out on the floor in sleeping bags,” Larry hoped.
After Korea, the tour continues to Kadena AB and Misawa AB, Japan and then to Hickam AFB, Hawaii. “We get to hunt for Easter eggs twice this year,” Larry explained. “We’ll leave Japan on Easter Sunday and arrive in Hawaii on the Saturday before Easter.” The group will take a well-deserved break on their second Easter of the year and do one last tour performance the next evening. Touch down at Robins AFB, will complete the 26,000 mile tour – except for the 350 mile bus trip back to Nashville, of course.