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Behind the Performance: Tops in Blue

LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Tops in Blue is the Air Force's premier entertainment showcase and is made up of 35 to 40 Active-Duty Airmen from all parts of the Air Force. They endure a tour that spans nine months and have performed for audiences topping 350,000 in over 20 countries. At the beginning of their tour the selected Airmen endure an intense 60-day training period. The training includes education, choreography, rehearsals for vocalists and the band, as well as staging and technical requirements for the tour.

Much of the work they do is done on a tight schedule, and sometimes, with no help. From the briefings to the performance, Tops in Blue will get their work done, leaving a feeling of joy and positivity in their wake.

For more information on Tops in Blue, please visit https://www.usafservices.com/TopsInBlue.aspx.


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Tom Edwards, Tops in Blue director, briefs members before their departure to Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, Oct. 31, 2014. The 8:00 a.m. meeting helped to remind members of Tops in Blue what their job means and to refocus them for the remaining duration of the tour. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jimmie D. Pike)(Released)



"In town, Dress Down." Staff Sgt. Marc Hightower, 18th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Aircraft Electrical and Environmental Systems craftsmen and Tops in Blue keyboardist, dresses down after the announcement that the bus was off of a military installation. Members dress down into more comfortable clothing during the long drives that the team endures. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jimmie D. Pike)(Released)



"They didn't have a men's section..." Members dressed in super hero costumes pose for a photo Oct. 31, 2014 on the road to Keesler, Miss. Tops in Blue travels with about 40 members, most of them traveling in close quarters for the entirety of the tour. Members find ways to bond and laugh to keep morale high and stress low. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jimmie D. Pike)(Released)



First Lt. Shannon Hart, 614th Air and Space Operations Squadron Space and Missile Operations officer and Tops in Blue keyboardist, sleeps during the drive from Lackland Air Force Base, Texas to Keesler AFB, Miss. Oct. 31, 2014. Due to long days, consisting of close quarters, rehearsals, set-ups, performances, etc., members sleep when the opportunity is available. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jimmie D. Pike)(Released)



Tops in Blue vocalists rehearse a new song on the road to Keesler Air Force Base, Miss. Oct. 31, 2014. New songs are rehearsed to be performed at later dates in the tour. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jimmie D. Pike)(Released)



Senior Airman Mark Roberts, 633rd Logistics Readiness Squadron Vehicle Operations apprentice and Tops in Blue audio engineer, drives to Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., Oct. 31, 2014. During long drives, another Tops in Blue member will converse with Roberts to distract him from the monotony of driving.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jimmie D. Pike)(Released)



Senior Airman Gabriel Villanueva, front, 436th Operations Support Squadron Aircrew Flight Equipment journeyman and Tops in Blue saxophonist, and Senior Airman Kyle Mccarty, rear, 15th Maintenance Squadron Aircraft Maintenance journeyman and Tops in Blue vocalist, enter the bus at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., Nov. 1, 2014. After a quick breakfast, members of Tops in Blue have to set up their stage and get ready for the performance. They usually are prepared with enough time for a short break before the show. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jimmie D. Pike)(Released)



Members eat a quick breakfast at the dining facility on Keesler Air Force Base, Texas, Nov. 1, 2014. Maintaining a healthy diet while on tour is the best way to maintain energy and functionality for stage building and high-end performances. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jimmie D. Pike)(Released)




Staff Sgt. Jacob Becker, 576th Flight Test Squadron Missile and Space System Electronics Maintenance craftsman and Tops in Blue drummer, gives a safety brief to volunteers at Keesler Air Force Base, Texas, Nov. 1, 2014. Tops in Blue had over 130 volunteers from Keesler AFB, the most TiB has seen. Some locations can't provide volunteers and Tops in Blue must unload and set up the stage which is roughly around 60,000 pounds. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st class Jimmie D. Pike)(Released)



Master Sgt. Justin Worley, 744th Communications Squadron Cyber Transport craftsman and Tops in Blue acting first sergeant and guitarist, checks the alignment of the front trust. After everything is stabilized the front trust will be raised to provide extra lighting during the performance. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jimmie D. Pike)(Released)



The stage goes up with or without the help of volunteers easing the workload. The average time to get the stage up is roughly six hours, which can tire out Tops in Blue members before the performance. Tired or not, Tops in Blue delivers their performance with high energy and great attitudes every night. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jimmie D. Pike)(Released)



"Quiet in the House," Senior Airman Kyle Mergeler, 9th Intelligence Squadron Geospatial Intelligence Analyst journeyman and Tops in Blue Staging director, lifts the stage trusts at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss. Nov. 1, 2014. Everyone around the stage gets quiet and watches the trust rise to help identify and address any discrepancies that may arise with stage that could become a hazard. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jimmie D. Pike)(Released)



Senior Airman Nia Newton, partakes in an on camera interview with Keesler Air Force Base Public Affairs. Media interviews are common to Airmen in Tops in Blue because of the unique experiences they have in the Air Force and the story they can tell. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jimmie D. Pike)



"Mic check 1, 2, 3, 4....," Two Tops in Blue audio engineers, Senior Airman Eric Rouse, left, 366th Civil Engineer Squadron Electrical Systems journeyman, and Senior Airman Steven Dores, right, 823rd Maintenance Squadron Aircraft Electrical and Environmental Systems journeyman, run through sound check after the stage set-up is complete. Every member has their microphones adjusted for optimal sound quality at the performance venue. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jimmie D. Pike)(Released)



Tops in Blue is known for the energetic shows performed for audiences worldwide. Performers often make the show their own by adding a bit of personality into their songs or choreography, which is always a benefit for the audience. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jimmie D. Pike)(Released)



Tops in Blue performers don their blues and perform patriotic songs as a finale to the night's performance. One of the traditional songs that is Sung by Tops in Blue is Lee Greenwood's, "God Bless the USA." After the show members line up for the audience to meet before heading out for a short night's sleep before returning to the venue for stage breakdown. After the stage is disassembled and placed on the truck, Tops in Blue starts the process of travel and performing over again.(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jimmie D. Pike)(Released)
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