A veteran, a firefighter and an audience member were given guitars on Saturday night at Hot Point Inn. The event was sponsored by Cumberland Wellness and Arts, an alternative and holistic health clinic, and featured prominent metal bands in the Pennsylvania area.
The event was part of a larger movement called “Guitars4Vets.” The movement aims to place as many guitars in the hands of military veterans as possible. Research has shown that musical training can effectively augment treatment for the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.
The show began with a metal band called Ghost of War. Thane Farace, guitarist of Ghost of War, took the spotlight and dazzled the audience with machine-like fingers hammering notes out on the neck of his guitar.
Midway through the adrenaline filled performances of metal bands Ghost of War, Crown of Earth and Distorted Voices, names were drawn out of a jar to select the winners of the guitars.
A brand new, black Stratocaster guitar was given to Derrick Grosse, a firefighter. Grosse was thrilled to receive the guitar and later commented that he was excited to learn how to play. Fortunately for him, Cumberland Wellness and Arts, located in Shippensburg, also offers guitar lessons.
A veteran who served in the U.S. Air Force was given a red Ibanez guitar.
Philadelphia-based Crown of Earth then took the stage and rocked out in what could be described as a hard hitting, classic heavy-metal style, replete with pulsating kick drums, bass riffs, and a deafening wall of sound. They played a set of original songs with a few well-loved covers thrown in, such as “The Trooper” by Iron Maiden. Metal fans of all ages were there “head banging” in unison.
An acoustic guitar was given to an audience memeber whose brother had given his life in military service of the country. She was invited up on stage with Ghost of War during one of their songs to wave an American Flag in honor of her brother’s life.
The ending act of the show, and arguably the most renowned of the three bands, was Distorted Voices. Legendary guitarist Tom Martini led the band with crisp, fluent soloing and a charismatic stage presence, at one point even jumping into the crowd while his guitar still screamed out rapid arpeggiated melodies.
Though this was the first “Guitars4Vets” event in Shippensburg, similar events across the country will see many more guitars put in the hands of real heroes.