Arts & Entertainment

Army's recruiting songster to bring his tunes to the fair

When Sgt. 1st Class Jamie Buckley comes home to the Tri-Cities, it won't be just to visit his family.

He'll also be crooning a few tunes at the Benton Franklin Fair & Rodeo.

This country singer, who graduated from Pasco High in 1988, doesn't have any hit songs on the Billboard charts -- yet -- but he's a hit with the Army's recruiting operation.

Buckley also has performed for troops in Iraq. He will return to Iraq in December for a Christmas show for the troops.

But even though fame and fortune haven't come in the form of a Nashville recording contract, the 38-year-old views his life in the same way as one of the songs he wrote called "Rich As Can Be."

"I couldn't ask for a better life than what I have right now," Buckley said from his Kentucky home. "Sure, a recording contract would be wonderful, but I love singing for the Army too."

Buckley and his wife, Kerry, feel blessed with their brood of six children, as well. The kids range in age from infant to 15.

"The whole family's coming with me to the Tri-Cities too," Buckley said.

Buckley and his band will perform a high-energy country music show at 6 p.m. Aug. 20-22 on the Oak Street Stage. He writes much of his own music and has released four albums when he isn't recruiting for the Army.

Another thing that makes this musical soldier unique is that he found a way to blend his love of music while serving his country.

"I went into the Army right out of high school, completed my 3-year tour of duty, which included Desert Storm, then I was (honorably) discharged," Buckley explained.

He returned home to Pasco, worked as an emergency 911 dispatcher and sheriff's deputy for while, and at night played his songs at nightclubs around Eastern Washington.

He would have preferred to make his living in music, but with a growing family to feed, a stable job was mandatory. That job landed him back in the Army in 1996.

"My wife was actually the one who suggested that I rejoin," Buckley said. "She said since I loved singing so much, maybe the Army might help me get to Nashville."

So he re-enlisted and was assigned as a vocalist to the 4th Infantry Division Band, and later to the Eighth U.S. Army Band. He's currently a career Army recruiter in Fort Knox, Ky., when he isn't off singing up a storm in the 113th Army Band.

"The Army offered me an opportunity to indulge my passion for music while serving my country. You could call me the singing recruiter," Buckley joked. "It just doesn't get any better than that for me."

*Dori O'Neal: 582-1514;