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May 23-29, 2007

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Gold Star Sister

Kristy Krüger on a 50-state tour for fallen U.S. soldiers

By Brett Ascarelli

From the pictures on her website, singer-songwriter Kristy Krüger is all pin curls and pouts, an appropriate look for her sultry, self-described "Amerilectrocana" sound, as heard on her last CD, Songs from a Dead Man's Couch. But in reality--or at least reality via her cell phone on the road--she's just plain funny, despite the circumstances.

Originally from Dallas, Krüger is on an ambitious music tour of all 50 states to honor her brother Lt. Col. Eric John Kruger, who was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq last November, just a couple of months before his 42nd birthday. Why the grand tour? She'd like to see the country he died for. So far, she has visited eight states; she arrives in California, via Santa Rosa's Last Day Saloon, on May 26.

But add Krüger's cats, Samson and Delilah, into the mix and such a grand salute to the fallen becomes a morass of domestic responsibilities. "I contacted over 50 rescue places," Krüger says, on the road somewhere outside of Las Cruces. "They did not care at all that my brother was killed in Iraq. I just sounded like some bad cat mom who was crying." One shelter suggested she keep the cats in collapsible cages on the tour bus. But for Krüger, the bus is actually more like, well, a Mazda Protegé. Finally, a friend--one located some 3,000 miles off her tour route--agreed to take them in. Krüger gamely drove there.

"At the time my brother died," Krüger says, "I was really unhappy with my life. My music wasn't going the way I wanted it to; I hated my job. Then he died. When I stood over his coffin, I just became totally inspired by him. Oh my God, I thought, this is what you wanted to do and you died doing it."

A few miles later, she laughs, "I still can't believe that someone in my family actually asked to go to Iraq!" Noting that he was a very high-ranking officer, she remarks, "He could have taken a cushy spot in Italy. It was like he felt guilty being anywhere else. I really admire that."

Thus inspired, Krüger quit her job as an office clerk in Los Angeles, put all her stuff in storage and hit the road. But it's a difficult way to live, she admits. Venues, for example, often won't guarantee payment for performances. "I'm funding [the tour] on my good faith that people will put money in the jar," she says.

Slowing down for the border patrol, Krüger says, "Just a second." They ask where she's headed. She tells them and then mutters into the phone, "They should recognize me by now!"

Kristy Krüger honors her brother and Sonoma County's fallen soldiers during her nonpartisan 50 State Memorial Tour on Saturday, May 26, at the Last Day Saloon. 120 Fifth St., Santa Rosa. 4pm. Free; donations hugely welcomed. A large portion of the proceeds go to a memorial fund for Lt. Col. Eric John Kruger's four children and to the Fisher House. 707.545.2343.

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