If you go
› Where: Songbirds Guitar Museum, 35 Station St. (South), 41 Station St. (North)
› For more information: 423-531-2473
THE MALEMEN: A NIGHT OF MOTOWN
› When: 9 p.m. Friday, May 31 (S)
› Admission: $15
DAVE MATTHEWS TRIBUTE BAND
› When: 9 p.m. Saturday, June 1 (S)
› Admission: $12 in advance, $15 day of show
THE PETERSON BROTHERS
› When: 7 p.m. Sunday, June 2 (N)
› Admission: $15 in advance, $20 day of show
VETERANS CONCERT TO BENEFIT OPERATION SONG
› When: 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 4 (N)
› Admission: $10
In December, Nashville songwriting pals of local singer-songwriter Robby Hopkins invited him to come to a meeting of Operation Song, see if he could lend his talent to help some veterans. Hopkins was hooked. He says he has been songwriting with the local vets twice a month ever since.
Operation Song is a nonprofit organization in which professional songwriters and musicians work with veterans, active military and their families to help them tell their stories through song. It's music therapy that helps soldiers cope with PTSD and helps their families better understand the physical and emotional burdens they've been carrying.
Bobbie Standefer, Operation Song director, began the local classes with help from Nashville songwriters Don Goodman and Steve Dean.
Hopkins says he has great respect for all members of the Armed Forces; all of them voluntarily serve their country, but not all will see battle action.
"But the majority of the guys in this class have been there, had their Humvees shot up with IEDs, and they are telling these stories. Some of these soldiers have got stories that make you go home and just shake your head. I've really gained respect for them. To me, it's so satisfying to hear that something I am contributing can make an impact on their lives."
Now Operation Song is offering everyone a chance to step up and assist veterans. A Veterans Concert is scheduled at Songbirds on Tuesday, June 4. Doors open at 6 p.m., the show starts at 7.
Standefer says in addition to the music there will be an auction, with items up for bids including an electric guitar signed by Kid Rock and a fiddle signed by Charlie Daniels.
Admission is $10 and tickets can be bought on the Songbirds website.
Hopkins says his Thursday night group is about "50-50 Vietnam and Iraq/Afghanistan vets." At Tuesday's concert, he will sing "My Turn," the true story of a local veteran that he helped the soldier write. The song is a memoir of a veteran who was raised by his grandfather, who had a stellar, exemplary military record of service.
"'He was raised up red, white and blue, through and through' is what he says," Hopkins describes. "He was eager to enlist and go give his service to his country, knowing one day it would be his turn to serve his country. It's very patriotic."
Hopkins says he's volunteering "out of respect and honor for the guys and ladies who have served their country for us. They've welcomed me with open arms. I feel like I'm contributing in a really satisfying way when I hear somebody open up about something. They could write me a check, but I wouldn't take it."
Contact Susan Pierce at email@example.com or 423-757-6284.