Tops in Blue sets America to music

Sr. Airman Starlett Johnson-Derr (left) and Sr. Airman Stacy Bensing perform a rhythm and blues song during Thursday’s “Tops in Blue” performance at Doc Stewart Park. Made up of Air Force personnel, the band tours all over the world. Photo:Rick White

By Eric Butler: CNJ Correspondent

The military performers called one routine the “Musicology of America.” Those who watched Tops in Blue at Doc Stewart Park just north of Cannon Air Force Base on Thursday used more familiar words.

“It’s a real good show — good dancing, good voices,” said James Jones, one of about 2,000 who turned out for the show.

Jones and his wife Jessica sat on the grass at the back of the audience, with the family dog Bandit.

“We’re glad to have such good weather instead of a bunch of rain,” Jessica Jones said.

The singing and dancing troupe, in existence since 1953, performed familiar numbers, “Footloose,” “Over the Rainbow,” and “If You’re Gonna Play In Texas (You’ve Gotta Have a Fiddle in the Band).”

All of it was done with costumes and stage alike awash in red, white and blue.

After the performance, spectators were treated to a fireworks show.

Col. John Posner, wing commander at Cannon AFB, pointed out that the show — the first for the Tops In Blue 2004 tour — featured the first pair of siblings ever to be in the group at the same time.

Carlos (keyboards and fiddle) and Ernesto Jayme (keyboards) were both from Albuquerque and the only New Mexicans listed among the 35 entertainers.

Clovis resident Lawrence Bradley saw Tops in Blue once before — in 1959. He recommended Thursday’s show to his granddaughter Amanda Bradley, who set up a tent to protect her children and others from the sun.

“He had seen it in Hawaii when he was stationed out there. He said it was a really good show,” she said.

Amanda Bradley said she appreciated her grandfather’s recommendation.

“So far, it’s been pretty good. You can’t beat it,” she said about halfway through the performance.