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Armed Forces Entertainment Brings The Drive Home to Perform for Troops in Cuba

February 5, 2009 download story

“We hope the troops appreciate it as much as we appreciate them,” says award-winning band

Troops in Cuba will be treated to a performance from road-tested and energetic pop rock band The Drive Home From March 6-10, 2009 thanks to Armed Forces Entertainment.

“These guys are driven to entertain, and present a complete, talented and enthusiastic package,” says Marine Corps Captain Jamie Fleischhacker, Armed Forces Entertainment circuit manager for the Western Hemisphere.  “We’re glad to work with them on this chance to perform for the troops.”  

Known for a unique style they’ve dubbed “pop & roll,” The Drive Home landed the number one spot on mtvU’s Best Music on Campus chart, won a coveted spot on the Vans Warped Tour, and played an international tour with The Backstreet Boys and former Backstreet Boy Howie Dorough’s solo tour, as well.  On their own, they’ve already performed in nine countries including Mexico, Belize and the Bahamas, and are especially looking forward to their Armed Forces Entertainment performance in Cuba for the troops.

“We like to do things where we’re able to make a big difference,” says lead guitarist and band founder Lester Melendez.  “We’re all about our troops, and recognize the sacrifices they make.  They keep us safe enough to be able to perform in the first place.” 

Melendez came up with the concept for The Drive Home in 2005 after an on-stage encounter at a Green Day concert.  Lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong brought him out of the crowd and onto the stage during the performance, giving him a taste of what a rock star reception feels like.  “That’s when I realized I want to do this. I love this,” he says. 

Already a computer science student and professional soccer player, Melendez finished school, went home to Miami, put an ad on Craig’s List and found musicians to join his band.  After securing the right lineup, The Drive Home also secured a string of live performances, and a dedicated international following. 

“I thought standing in front of 10,000 or 40,000 people would be amazing and wouldn’t be hard work,” says Melendez.  “I was definitely wrong about the hard work part, but it’s still amazing.” 

Melendez says The Drive Home is especially looking forward to interacting with the troops they’ll meet during their stay with them in Cuba.  “We want to see what they do every day, and we’re really looking forward to interacting with people,” he says.  “They want to be entertained, and we’re happy to entertain them.” 

The Drive Home’s music is both positive and catchy.  The band recently released their new independent record on iTunes called “It’s OK to Smile,” and would like to make it possible for troops stationed anywhere in the world to download it for free. “Let’s be honest, there’s a lot of bad things out there,” says Melendez.  “But people like to have a good time, smile and dance around, and that’s OK.”



Armed Forces Entertainment is the lead Department of Defense agency for providing entertainment to U.S. military personnel serving overseas, with priority given to those in contingency operations and at remote and isolated locations. The Department of the Air Force is the executive agent of Armed Forces Entertainment. Founded in 1951, Armed Forces Entertainment brings a touch of home to more than 500,000 troops annually, embracing the best of Americana that stretches across all genres of entertainment.  Visit for more information.


To learn more about The Drive Home, visit



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Lindsey Roznovsky
The Drive Home