*The Bar-Kays are in the midst of bringing funk to U.S. troops in Iraq for a third time.

Lead singer Larry Dodson and the band arrived during the Fourth of July weekend and are due to return on July 15, having played four concerts on the base, and one gig in Kuwait.

Now that U.S. troops have drawn down in Iraq, this third trip for the Bar-Kays is a bit different than their previous journeys in May 2008 with the Legends of Funk tour (see video below) and in Aug. 2010.

Larry Dodson of the Bar-Kays

“The first time we went three years ago, we were in the middle of it,” Dodson told EUR’s Lee Bailey. “I mean we had to go to the shelters many, many times, especially in Baghdad. You could just see the bombs going off in the horizon. You could get hit. You were really in harm’s way.

“The second time we went it wasn’t that much different. But now, most of the troops are gone. When I was there last year, 54,000 went home. So now, we’re in the last deployment out of there. This is actually the last group of guys to go over to Iraq on this kind of mission.”

The Bar-Kays are shown with U.S. troops in 2008 after completing a concert tour of Kuwait and Iraq, visiting troops at command centers, hospitals and one of Hussein's Palaces. See more pics in video below.

The Bar-Kays’ first poked their “Soul Finger” into the music industry in 1967. That same year, R&B icon Otis Redding hired the group as his touring band. Shortly after, Redding was killed in a plane crash, along with four original members of the Bar-Kays. But the survivors rebuilt the group, and by the early 1970s, the Bar-Kays had become one of the era’s leading funk bands, turning out a string of hit records like “Son of Shaft” in 1972 and “Holy Ghost” in 1979.

Nearly four decades later, Dodson and bass player James Alexander are still writing new songs and touring.

In the bonus audio below, Dodson shares more memories of his Middle East tours with the Bar-Kays.

Larry Dodson of the Bar-Kays on performing in Iraq by CherieNic

Below, The Legends or Funk (The Dazz Band, The Bar-Kays, and ConFunkShun) tour Iraq and Kuwait, from May 25 – June 3, 2008.