OKLAHOMA CITY – Country music star Toby Keith had a performance in Afghanistan last week interrupted by mortar fire, according to his booking agent.
Curt Motley, the agent, told The Oklahoman in an e-mail that the 46-year-old Keith was playing his song "Weed With Willie" for troops during a USO Tour stop at a base in Kandahar, Afghanistan, on Thursday when mortar fire sent the singer and most of the about 2,500 soldiers in the crowd scrambling for shelter.
Motley is traveling with Keith, a native Oklahoman, on the tour. The agent said in his e-mail that they ran about 100 yards to a concrete bunker, where they stayed for about an hour. During the wait, Keith signed autographs and posed for pictures with troops, Motley said.
After the scare was over, Keith returned to the stage and finished his show.
"He went right to the verse he was in and finished his show," Motley said.
Motley said the mortar fire wasn't the only difficulty encountered by Keith while on the tour. The agent said a giant sandstorm stranded Keith's traveling party on Sunday morning during a stop at Camp Fallujah in Iraq.
"We are covered in the fine moon dust-looking power and we are indoors," Motley said in another e-mail. "The hallways appear to be smoking because there is so much dust and dirt in the air."
Keith is on his sixth USO tour of the Persian Gulf area. He also came under mortar fire last year during an earlier tour of the region.
"I try to set the standard to encourage other entertainers to start to go," Keith told the newspaper last summer. "You don't have to go as extreme as I do. You know, I get pretty high off of putting on the gear and going into those places ... when I see a soldier come running out there and shaking my hand, going, 'I can't believe you'd come up here.' These guys might not have seen a soul other than each other ... from America for 18 or 20 months."