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Tops in Blue takes McChord Field by storm

Northwest Guardian

Published: 04:46PM June 26th, 2014

For 60 years, Air Force Entertainment has gathered some of the most talented musicians, vocalists and dancers for a world tour. This year as with most, the tour included a June 18 stop at Hangar 9 on JBLM’s McChord Field.

The Tops in Blue variety show for more than a half century has provided Airmen, interested early in show business, the opportunity to perform for live audiences. Senior Airman Bobby Lucas of the 100th Civil Engineer Squadron at Royal Air Force Mildenhall, U.K., for example, first picked up a saxophone more than 13 years ago, while in eighth grade.

“(Tops in Blue) is a dream come true — something I’ve been wanting to do for ages,” Lucas said. “I can give back while at the same time doing what I love to do. It’s a blessing.”

On the eighth stop during this year’s Tops in Blue World Tour, the McChord Field show attracted a packed hangar of more than 1,000 service and family members for a night of music covering southern rock, rhythm and blues, and current popular genres.

There was something for everybody in the audience to enjoy, as there was for everyone who performed.

“It’s all over the place — from really high energy down to really emotional, soft music,” said Senior Airman Jordan Premo, of the 11th Civil Engineer Squadron at Joint Base Andrews-Naval Air Facility, Md.

The show had something everyone in the family could enjoy.

It’s a big reason why Tricia DePontee convinced her husband, Sgt. 1st Class Ric DePontee, of the 17th Field Artillery Brigade on JBLM, to bring their three children.

Tricia DePontee is no veteran to the Tops in Blue; she remembered going to a show in 1996. She said the show had a talented cast, and this year’s cast matched the same level of professionalism 18 years later.

“We liked it because it’s a family show with good morals and ethics,” Ric DePontee said.

The Tops in Blue began in 1953 as a way to recognize amateur tale-nt within the Air Force through an annual Worldwide Talent Contest.

From 200 applications, 33 service members were selected to be on this year’s tour. Each performer and member of the production crew also assisted with setting up and tearing down the sound system, lighting and stage construction. The performers came from a variety of backgrounds.

“It’s always been a great way to showcase the Air Force’s talent,” said Col. Anthony Davit, JBLM deputy commander and 627th Air Base Group commander.

Senior Airman Steven Dores has been a Tops in Blue audio engineer for the past seven years. He gained experience providing audio and visual help for his church near Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., and said this was like a pastime for him.

Dores said the nine-month tour, considered a temporary duty assignment, has provided him a chance to learn from experienced sound technicians. He said it helped him learn new mixing skills he can take with him after the military.

“Being around people who have been mixing and producing for 20 years has really helped me to fine-tune my hearing,” Dores said.