Sunday night, as I was spinning and swaying to Jimmie Van Zant playing “Sweet Home Alabama” just a few feet away from me, I realized something: I really like it here in Pulaski County.
The concert, which took place in the backyard of the Dead Rabbit Saloon, was truly something spectacular. Jimmie Van Zant — cousin of Lynyrnd Syknyrd legend Ronnie Van Zant — electrified the small crowd of 150, as if he was playing for 10,000.
It was so different from the dozens of concerts I had been to before. It was relaxed, intimate, and not-to-mention incredibly affordable ($2 beers are unheard of where I'm from, especially at concerts).
Van Zant could make eye contact with most of the crowd. At times, he would even swing his microphone to someone dancing in the crowd and have them sing with him. At one point, my friend sang with him.
On our way home, my friend (who is a Soldier stationed at Fort Leonard Wood) and I were talking about how unforgettable and unique our experience at that concert was.
“I got to sing Simple Man with a Van Zant,” he said. “My life is now complete.”
We talked about how we so often hear Fort Leonard Wood being referred to as “Fort Lost in the Woods” because “there is nothing to do here.”
I'm from Kansas City. I moved here about a year ago on a wing and a prayer that the small town in the middle of Missouri that offered me the job I really wanted wouldn't be all that bad.
And I'll admit, this place is different than home. There isn't a mall filled with a hundred stores I really don't need. There aren't arenas that hold concerts of tens of thousands of people who I don't know. There aren't a lot of places you can find a meal for more than $20.
But if you look past the big city stuff — if you see this place as more than just a small military community in the middle of Missouri — you can really have yourself some surprisingly fantastic experience, like I did on Sunday.