Local musicians serve up a heaping helping of southern roots rock and blues in Guantanamo Bay
A group of local musicians has embarked on a four-day trip to perform for US troops stationed at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Brady Clampitt and Isaac Corbitt of the The Corbitt-Clampitt Experience traveled from NAS Jacksonville to the storied military compound where they will entertain the men and women in uniform.
The Corbitt-Clampitt Experience was performing its rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” at St. Augustine’s Prohibition Kitchen when it caught the ear of a different kind of military recruiter. A representative of a group that sponsors entertainment at military bases liked what they heard and reached out to officials at MWR Guantanamo Bay which booked the band for a show at O’Kelly’s Irish Pub.
“They heard us in St. Augustine and at a couple festivals out at Suwannee and they liked us so they called us up and asked us if we had our passports,” says Corbitt. “I’ve done some previous stuff for the military but most have been in the states so I jumped right on top of it as soon as I heard about it.”
While the trip to GTMO is only four days compared to Clampitt’s recent two-week stay in upstate New York with the Melody Trucks Band, it required background screenings, issuance of temporary military ID for both bases and approval of t-shirts, dog tags and other merchandise created to memorialize such an important event.
“It’s cool any way we can to play for the troops but to go to a destination like Guantanamo Bay, even people in the military don’t get stationed there. It’s such a unique place,” says Corbitt. “The base itself is 45 miles long. It’s a whole town. They’ve got bowling alleys, movie theatres, all sorts of stuff to do because a lot of people have families that live on base.”
The band will definitely reprise the patriotic hymn that earned the ticket to GTMO as a way to show their support for the troops. Corbitt said they will also serve up a heaping helping of southern roots rock and blues with songs by the Allman Brothers, JJ Grey and Mofro, a signature harmonica jam along with some original material.
“It’s going to be a really cool experience. We also created this whole line of merchandise and Brady and I co-designed the logo for it all,” says Corbitt of the limited edition “Live at Guantanamo Bay” items like dog tags, two-sided koozies, t-shirts and a signed 11×17 poster emblazoned with the logo featuring a palm tree and the American flag available on Etsy under Corbitt Clampitt store.
“We’re selling some for a limited short run while we’re here then we’re going to be giving a large portion of it away during our show. We’re going to be throwing out dog tags and shirts and koozies to military personnel and their families.”
Band members will be briefed on the do’s and don’ts of base life during their stay but Corbitt is hopeful they will be permitted to film the performance and post it on social media for friends, family and fans to enjoy.
“We’ll wait until we get down there and then start asking questions. Can we even film it? There are certain areas you can’t even have your phone out or they will confiscate it,” he says.
“We’re only playing one show from 7 to 9 pm and then after that, we’re kind of on vacation just hanging out with them for a couple of days. There’s going to be quite a few things for us to do,” he said, including a tour of the historic base.
“They’re going to take us around the prison camp and tell us all about it, when it started, why it started and all the stuff they’ve done there so the opportunity to go to a place like that and get the one-on-one experience is the chance of a lifetime.”
This isn’t the first time the band has lent its talents to a military cause. Corbitt played the Army Ranger 5th Battalion Mountaineering Base three years in a row with his brother Newsome in the Corbitt Brothers Band.
Clampitt performed with the Corbitt Brothers Band for the Valor Jam 2016 at The Florida Theatre. The benefit concert was hosted by Quality Resource Center, a not for profit awareness organization for active duty military members, veterans and their families. The Corbitt Brothers headlined the event in their farewell appearance, which featured opening acts Second Shot and Billy Buchanan & Free Avenue. The proceeds helped fund construction of affordable housing for chronically-homeless veterans under the S.A.L.U.T.E. program, QRC’s Veterans Landing project.
This fall, Corbitt and Clampitt will join the lineup at the 2nd annual Rhythm & Boots Mini Music Festival with Kevin Post of the Blake Shelton Band and Hallie Davis Music hosted by The Admiral’s Daughter Nov. 6 at Blue Jay Listening Room in Jacksonville Beach. The event was established by The Admiral’s Daughter, a clothing line that promotes awareness of ocean conversation and military appreciation. Tickets include food from ABBQ and Jax Beach Brunch Haus, a silent auction, raffle prices and open bar.
A History with Guantanamo Bay
For Clampitt, he shares a personal connection to Guantanamo Bay. His grandfather Albert Frank Clampitt was stationed there twice as an Aviation Machinist Mate Chief and an enlisted Pilot in the US Navy during his 20 years of service. He was a sailor aboard the USS Lexington and was dispatched to search for Amelia Earhart’s downed aircraft circa 1937. He volunteered for Flying Tigers though many of his friends who were accepted as volunteers didn’t make it back. While at Guantanamo Bay, the elder Clampitt was sent to US Naval Station in Panama to get their Engine Overhaul Facility up and running.
The engines were rebuilt, tested, crated, and shipped once passing inspection. When he arrived in Panama, all the engines had stainless steel headers on back order and he petitioned the base admiral for approval of his plan to make templates to create the headers from scratch using stainless steel tubing and plates. He worked three 24-hour shifts to catch up with the demand for the US planes. Clampitt, who was certified to work on and flew the Seaplane PDY5A, took advantage of his flight hours spent testing the rebuilt engines to scout the best fishing spots up and down the coast.
Albert Clampitt and a few of his sailor buddies would take the crash/rescue boats off base to go fishing where the population of fish was so plentiful, they caught them using shiny, un-baited hooks. The base was also said to have a shark net at the beach made of stainless-steel cable with anchors at the bottom and floats at the top.
It’s a special thing for Clampitt to be able to trace his grandfather’s path to GTMO, and hopefully find some of his great fishing spots as well. “When we look at the military and what this means to us firstly to support men and women in the armed forces, a lot of times it’s such a thankless job so any time we can do something special for them, we’re jumping all over that,” says Clampitt who recalled his experience working with his uncle’s roofing company, Wilford Roofing, on a job at Naval Station Mayport at the Airport Control Tower.
“I thought it was pretty marvelous to watch the morning routines of the helicopter pilots going out for training and missions at day break. But to be going to a place where my grandfather was stationed is pretty cool. The men and women that are there are doing their job are doing it every day regardless of politics. It’s up to us to support them.”