Band Bowling for Soup gets celebrity tour of Guantanamo camps

MIAMI — Guantanamo may be remote, shrouded in security clearances and off limits to most Americans. But the pop-punk band Bowling for Soup, made famous by its 2003 "Drunk Enough to Dance'' album, can now boast a celebrity visit to the Pentagon's notorious prison camps.

The Texas-based band and their roadies toured the camps Sunday, hours ahead of a concert, and signed autographs for guards inside the rotunda of the 100-cell maximum-security lockup for uncooperative captives at Camp 5.

Prison camp commanders have said they no longer blare AC/DC and Barnie to soften up uncooperative captives for interrogation. And there's no reason to believe the prisoners heard the 8 p.m. show -- at the U.S. Navy base's Tiki Bar, an open-air hangout once popular with interrogators. It's miles away.

But the prison's spokesman confirmed the band's Labor Day visit to southeast Cuba included a camps visit similar to those given to reporters afforded a glimpse of captives in their communal surroundings.

"Bowling for Soup toured Camps 4/5/6 on Sunday -- standard tour, same as the media receives,'' Navy Cmdr. Bradley Fagan said in an e-mail Thursday.

"The purpose of the tour was to give the troops on duty that day, who were not able to attend their show that evening, the opportunity to meet and interact with the band. ''

Fagan did not clarify whether the band got the full soup-to-nuts media tour that includes a stop at the cafeteria, where contract foreign workers prepare the 176 captives' up-to 6,000 calorie a day meals.

But the band members coming off their Summertime Not Bummertime tour also did free of charge meet-and-greet sessions with the public at the Navy base's Irish pub, O'Kelly's, on Saturday night. On Monday evening, according to a Guantanamo notice, they also met fans at the Youth Center, meant for the kids of sailors and other long-term base residents.

Prison camp commanders have long had a tradition of touring celebrities through the camps, from the earliest days when country singer Charlie Daniels visited and dedicated a special rendition of "The Devil Went Down to Gitmo'' at the base's open-air Lyceum cinema.

But the Texas band may be among the most colorful.

The lone photo released by Fagan, the prison camps public affairs officer, showed black T-shirt clad, tattooed band members crowding inside the rotunda of Camp 5, signing autographs under escort by a soldier of the Army's 525 Military Police Battalion.

Each T-shirt had a slogan, attire in past forbidden to touring news media.

Others who have toured included the actor who played a drill sergeant in "Full Metal Jacket,'' R. Lee Ermey, the rock band Everclear and Miss Universe, Dayana Mendoza, a 22-year-old model from Venezuela, who after her April 2009 visit posted a glowing description of this remote Caribbean outpost on her website.

"The water in Guantánamo Bay is soooo beautiful!'' she gushed at the time.

Perhaps to one-up her, guitarist/vocalist Chris Burney boasted in a Twitter feed Thursday, "I also played a rockin' show there. Miss Universe did not do that.''

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