Ed. Note: Kevin Scholla provided a synopsis and two photos from his interview with JD Morgan, cousin of former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.
by Kevin Scholla
For those who believe things like the Constitution, life, liberty, and traditional American values are worth fighting for, you may say former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin rocks. Well, it runs in the family. Palin’s first cousin rocks, too. Literally. JD Morgan is the vocalist and lead guitarist for the band Missing Stateside and thanks to his famous family member, the group was introduced to the world this month.
We’ve all seen the power of Palin when it comes to candidate endorsements. Now we know she can affect the entertainment world as well. After Palin tweeted about Missing Stateside and posted some links featuring the Albuquerque-based act on her Facebook page, the band’s web site nearly crashed.
“It’s been amazing,” Morgan said. “It’s been not a lot of sleep, answering emails and questions from people. It’s been wonderful but it’s been crazy.”
Morgan and his wife are both retired Air Force vets. His parents also served. While spending some time on active duty in Iceland years ago, Morgan found some other like minded musicians and a band was born. The name however, came about later.
One night in a club back in 2003, a discussion started about naming the band, which has had 15 members over the years. When Morgan, the only original member mentioned he missed being in the states, the name dawned on him. Missing Stateside it was. Years later, Missing Stateside it remains.
When Morgan first moved to New Mexico he was asked if the name of the band would be changed since he was back on American soil. No way. “We have a lot of friends that are still in Iraq and Afghanistan so we’re going to keep the name because they’re missing stateside,” said Morgan.
Today, the band consists of Morgan, ex-Marine Tony Plebani, Jeff Perry, and Ricky Wilson.
They play a lot of covers from The Rolling Stones to Johnny Cash to Jimmy Eat World. But it was Morgan’s brilliant cover of a song we all know that Sarah Palin highlighted online. Morgan’s rendition of The Star Spangled Banner sends chills of patriotism though any red blooded American. His passion and love of country comes through as he performs our National Anthem at a fundraiser for Blue Star Mothers.
Believe it or not, Morgan actually caught some flack for singing the song in his own way. Unfair criticism for sure. Something his cousin knows a lot about.
Morgan meant no disrespect. “I absolutely love and respect the original,” he said. “I was just pouring my own emotions into the song. I’ve spent literally hundreds of hours standing at attention saluting the flag. I was simply putting my own twist and feelings into it. I’m proud of it.”
He should be.
Just like his cousin has revealed before about herself, The Star Spangled banner conjures up emotions in Morgan also. “I cry,” Morgan admits. “I tear up every time I hear it. It really kicks you in the stomach when you hear that song.”
For Morgan the song has only become more important to him over the years. “Knowing everything Sarah has done to help us out with everything we’re going through in this country right now, and what she stands for it means that much more to our family,” Morgan told SarahNET Radio.
Missing Stateside is already accomplished. The band has opened for the likes of Foghat, Steppenwolf, Skid Row, Quiet Riot and others. The boost from Governor Palin will undoubtedly only open more doors for this talented bunch. Since, the social media shout out, the band has already been offered several opportunities including a major gig in Minnesota.
While they are masters of covering a wide variety of pieces, Missing Stateside has plenty of great original stuff in their repertoire including some work from Morgan’s recent solo project. “Fire and Ice” became so popular that it’s now the theme song of a huge bike rally.
If you like to have the heart strings tugged at, they have that taken care of too. “Forever Friend” is a song Morgan adores. It’s about a police officer who loses his co-worker/fiancée in the line of duty. Another tune “Angles Fly” pays tribute to a selfless little girl who started an organization called Christmas with Chemo. At the time, she was just nine years old and she decided she wanted to give all her toys to sick kids. There was Missing Stateside right by her side to help her collect toys and they brought along with them an emotional song of generosity and love.
While honored that Palin showcased Missing Stateside online, Morgan already knew his cousin approved of the band’s sound.
“We love to play for her,” Morgan said. “Her and Todd are a unique couple in their music selections. They like to rock.”
Not surprising, considering Palin has mentioned AC/DC as one of her favorites and she named her youngest son Trig Paxson Van Palin after Van Halen.
Just like a typical Palin or Heath, Morgan is always concerned about others. Instead of talking more about his tremendous talent his top request has nothing to do with music at all. “When you see a veteran go up and shake their hand,” Morgan said. “No politics involved. Just go up and shake a vets hand.”