From Soldier in Baghdad to Singer in Springfield

A soldier who entertained his buddies in Iraq is now opening for Hayes Carll.

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By Anna Mulrine, Washington Whispers

Whispers first met then Pvt. Jacob Wyrick in Baghdad, when he was playing the guitar and singing in a small coffee shop known as Green Bean. It was actually a trailer, and he took fellow soldiers' requests, which ranged from Van Morrison to Garth Brooks. "More than anybody else, people wanted to hear Garth Brooks songs," Wyrick tells us. During his military tour, which ended in February 2008, he estimates that he "probably put in over 500 hours performing." He would practice at night in the motor pool, where he worked during the day. Sometimes, Wyrick sat on a curb and played for soldiers who grabbed coffee or pizza from nearby shops and sat on picnic benches to eat. "For a lot of people, it ended up being a part of their day," he says. "They could forget about being in Iraq for a while."

Now Wyrick is an Army reservist finishing up college in his native Springfield, Mo. His new rock-and-roll band, Cropdusters, just released its debut album, Howdy (you can hear a sample here). Wyrick says his experiences in Iraq, which included having a mortar round explode 4 yards away from him, did not influence this album but might show up on future ones. How big are the Cropdusters? They recently opened for Hayes Carll, who had a No. 1 hit with the single "She Left Me for Jesus."

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