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AF’s premier performance group stops at Denver: Drummer returns to home base

DENVER -- Tech. Sgt. Joshua Tarrant, 460th Operations Group Detachment 1, Buckley Air Force Base, Colo., performs blindfolded during his drum solo Aug. 28. Tarrant will be playing drums over the next year for the Tops in Blue "Listen" tour. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kathrine McDowell)

DENVER -- Tech. Sgt. Joshua Tarrant, 460th Operations Group Detachment 1, Buckley Air Force Base, Colo., performs blindfolded during his drum solo Aug. 28. Tarrant will be playing drums over the next year for the Tops in Blue "Listen" tour. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kathrine McDowell)

DENVER -- Airmen 1st Class Jonathan Leak, 324th Intelligence Squadron Management apprentice, performs as a mime to the Bruno Mars song "Grenade" Aug. 28. Leak is on permissive temporary duty assignment from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, to perform  in the Tops in Blue "Listen" tour. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kathrine McDowell)

DENVER -- Airmen 1st Class Jonathan Leak, 324th Intelligence Squadron Management apprentice, performs as a mime to the Bruno Mars song "Grenade" Aug. 28. Leak is on permissive temporary duty assignment from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, to perform in the Tops in Blue "Listen" tour. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kathrine McDowell)

DENVER -- Airman 1st Class Jessica Pitts, 606th Air Control Squadron, Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, plays a muted trumpet solo at the Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum Aug. 28 for the Tops in Blue "Listen" tour. Performing at a pace of 230 shows in 235 days, Tops in Blue is the Air Force's expeditionary entertainment team that will tour through more than 20 countries this year. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kathrine McDowell)

DENVER -- Airman 1st Class Jessica Pitts, 606th Air Control Squadron, Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, plays a muted trumpet solo at the Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum Aug. 28 for the Tops in Blue "Listen" tour. Performing at a pace of 230 shows in 235 days, Tops in Blue is the Air Force's expeditionary entertainment team that will tour through more than 20 countries this year. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kathrine McDowell)

DENVER -- Tops in Blue vocalist, Senior Airman Joleen Dedmon, 944th Medical Squadron, Luke Air Force Base, Ariz.,sings the last note of Lee Greenwood's "Proud to Be an American" at the Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum Aug. 28. The Tops in Blue "Listen" tour will travel through more than 20 countries this year. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kathrine McDowell)

DENVER -- Tops in Blue vocalist, Senior Airman Joleen Dedmon, 944th Medical Squadron, Luke Air Force Base, Ariz.,sings the last note of Lee Greenwood's "Proud to Be an American" at the Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum Aug. 28. The Tops in Blue "Listen" tour will travel through more than 20 countries this year. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kathrine McDowell)

DENVER -- Tops in Blue vocalists take the stage for their first number at the Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum Aug. 28. Tops in Blue has been performing for military personnel and their families for nearly 60 years. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kathrine McDowell)

DENVER -- Tops in Blue vocalists take the stage for their first number at the Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum Aug. 28. Tops in Blue has been performing for military personnel and their families for nearly 60 years. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kathrine McDowell)

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Hundreds of people gathered into the Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum at Lowry Aug. 28 to watch Tops in Blue, the Air Force's premier performance group, do their thing.

For nearly 60 years Tops in Blue has traveled the globe performing non-stop at countless locations.

Best part of the night?

"Personally, I thought that the best part of the show was the Michael Jackson tribute. MJ is intrinsically awesome and they did a great job emulating him. The guy doing the moonwalk, that was sharp," said Eric, 460th Communications Squadron network infrastructure supervisor. "Next best was Colonel Dant's (Col. Daniel Dant, 460th Space Wing commander) story about Neil Armstrong."

However, a good show comes with a cost. As 34 Airmen work relentlessly around the clock to ensure they're ready to put on a good show.

"It's very fast paced, a lot of long days. It's hard, but it's doable," said Staff Sgt. Katie, Tops in Blue keyboard player, wardrobe director and public affairs representative. "It's just a go go go pace and every day presents its new challenges, but you learn how to adapt and overcome and move on."

McGuire said a prime example of that adaptation starts from the beginning. There's no show planned when the crew is selected at the beginning of the year. So, once everybody is selected and gets together there's a lot to do from the get go.

"We fit the show around our performers," she said.

The team is did a great job and has adapted well as their hard work and charismatic attitudes show through on stage.

"They're a hugely talented and energetic group," said Katie. "My 6 year-old son, Caiden, was absolutely star struck by the musicians especially the drummer Tech. Sgt. Tarrant from the 460th Operations Group," said Leyva. He also said his son said, "What you used to with him... and he get to drum for the Air Force."

That's right; one of Team Buckley's own is a member of this year's Tops in Blue crew.
Tech. Sgt. Joshua is a member of the 460th Operations Group, Det. 1, based from Boulder, Colo., and is placed on a permissive temporary duty assignment until his year-long tour is finished.

"He has really grown as a drummer," said Joshua. "He really takes care of his people. He's very positive."

Tarrant said he's had some success with his drumming before and during his active-duty career; he got the idea of trying out for Tops in Blue after performing in last year's Buckley Idol.

According to Tarrant, the tour has been nothing but positive.

"It's broadened me in many ways as an NCO, as a human being, a percussionist, musician. Everything about me except for my physical mass has stretched and grown because of this tour," said Eric, as he chuckled about his shrinking physique from the strenuous work.

Performers not only perform, but they're in charge of setting up and breaking down the stage for every performance giving the Airmen a good workout.

Part of making those performers better Airmen is tearing them down and building them back up, said the drummer. They have to deal with putting on a great show, setting up and traveling ‒ sometimes with very little sleep.

Playing the drums since he was 15 years-old, Tarrant said he loves everything about it, and he loves the crowd.

"I've always loved to perform," said Katie. "It's just fun to have that release, just kind of be an animal and get at it."

One of the reasons he believes he needs to give it everything he has is because of Tops in Blue's great reputation.

"The person in the furthest seat away deserves as good a show as the person in the front seat," added Katie.

A very humble Tarrant said he knew none of this would be possible if it wasn't for all the amazing support he's received.

"I'd like to thank God for my gift, my wife for her support and my unit-specifically my commander and my fellow mission crew chief," said Katie. "I wouldn't be here without them and without their support."
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