The city of Boston was an important site in the course of the Revolutionary War, when Paul Revere rode through the streets to warn his neighbors that the British were coming.
This Sunday, the city gets invaded by an American friend, Toby Keith, who’s on tap to perform at the Hatch Shell near the Charles River for the CBS special “Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular.” It’s a little different way to spend Independence Day for Toby, who usually observes the holiday with his family in Oklahoma.
“We always do the American thing,” he told The Boston Globe. “We get out and barbecue, get some cold beer and blow stuff up.”
Toby, of course, has a major song about blowing stuff up: “Courtesy Of The Red, White And Blue (The Angry American)” made him a controversial figure after he wrote it to sound a battle cry against Afghanistan following the terrorist attacks in September 2001. But it’s not his only song about the U.S. or its military. “American Soldier” is on the set list for Sunday, right alongside “How Do You Like Me Now?!” and “Who’s Your Daddy?” as he performs with the Boston Pops Orchestra.
“It will be neat to hear how they structure my songs with the full group,’’ Toby said.
In the meantime, the sound of those booming fireworks along the Charles River might be loud, but it’s nothing to Toby compared to the sound of mortar shells in the Middle East. He’s performed regularly in Afghanistan and Iraq ever since the U.S. went to war. Plenty of country acts have made similar trips, including Darryl Worley, Joe Nichols, the Zac Brown Band, Craig Morgan and Chely Wright — all of them with the same goal of bringing a little bit of homeland hospitality to the guys on the front line. This weekend, GAC will air two specials honoring our troops — Joe Nichols: My Military Diary, and Stars For Stripes Wounded Warriors Return. You can also see photos from the Stars For Stripes special, here.
“The biggest reward I get,” Toby noted, “is hearing other artists go over there and say, ‘Man, I heard about you everywhere I went.’ And that’s from doing nine years, 14 days a year, 160 shows. You’re going to build that kind of rapport and respect with people who are over there laying it down for us.’’
Meanwhile, Toby’s opening up his own base of operations in the Boston area. He has yet another of his I Love This Bar & Grill restaurants slated for Foxborough, the suburb that serves as home turf for an NFL team with an all-American name: the New England Patriots.