It is with a heavy heart that I tell you my beloved brother, Lt. Col. Eric John Kruger, was killed in Iraq, November 2, 2006. He absolutely loved music, and from now on, every show I play is for him :
And so began Kristy Kruger’s life without her brother, devoted utterly to his memory, living completely in his honor. Lt. Col. Eric John Kruger, a graduate of Southern Methodist University, was on his third tour of duty in the Middle East when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle. It was his second day in Baghdad, and to date, only 18 officers of his rank or higher have been killed in the war.
Lt. Col. Eric J. Kruger
It was at Eric’s funeral at Arlington National Cemetery when Kruger came up with the idea for a memorial concert in honor of her brother. After gathering with family and friends for her first tribute show in Dallas on what would have been Eric’s 41st birthday, Kruger decided one show was not enough. Her goal: to perform in her brother’s name in every state in the Union. “He died in the name of this country, so I’d like him to be remembered in every state in this country,” Kruger’s Web site quotes. “And I’d like to see America, the whole thing. I’d like to see what he died for.”
She’s been on the road ever since, a traveling troubadour supporting herself with donations and raising money for her brother’s four young children. At this moment, Kruger-sister of a slain brother, inheritor of an immeasurable sadness-is driving quietly somewhere between Utah and California, devoting a very hard year of her life to the dignified memory of her brother, and to so many others who share the same fate.
Kruger’s devotion to Eric is equally matched in talent. A singer/songwriter from Dallas, she’s got the corner on a timeless but incredibly original brand of dark country/folk. She’s been reviewed as a female Tom Waits, which is spot-on when it comes to Kruger’s lyrics, though she’s got a definite leg up in the vocal department. Her stuff is catchy and melodic, and she occasionally fuses her folk roots with some electronic influences. Kruger’s also a classically trained musician, which shows all over her work; she’s produced four albums, most recently Songs from a Dead Man’s Couch, which won the 2006 Dallas Observer Music Award for Best Female Singer.
Though the circumstances of Kruger’s national tour are tragic, her goal is to perform moving, hope-inspired shows that celebrate life. It’s a reminder that, while we need crusaders to fight for causes and to stand up against unchecked power, we also need to stop occasionally, to affectionately and fondly remember the dead. Kruger-whose shows are bipartisan and absent of any particular political agenda-hopes to provide a space to do just that, and in so doing, to replenish our own humanity.
Kristy Kruger comes to Muddy Waters Cafe (508 E. Haley St.) on Friday, May 18, from 8-10 p.m. There’s no cover, but donations are greatly appreciated, and will from 8-10 p.m. There’s no cover, but donations are greatly appreciated, and will benefit the tour and a memorial fund for Lt. Col. Eric Kruger’s four children. Visit kristykruger.com for more information and to hear some of her songs.