An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Pope Airman selected to perform with Tops in Blue

  • Published
  • By Marvin Krause
  • 43rd Airlift Group public affairs
An Airman from Pope Army Airfield, North Carolina, was selected for the Air Force's world-renowned performing arts group, Tops in Blue, on March 17.

Staff Sgt. Andrew Bowman, a material management specialist with the 43rd Logistics Readiness Squadron, was selected as a trumpet player for the 2014 team after an online audition in March.

Bowman saw an advertisement listed on the Air Force Portal in February searching for a trumpet player to audition for the Tops in Blue team. He filled out the application and was contacted by Tops in Blue officials to perform for an online audition.

"I was asked to play a couple of scales, C major, G major in that major scale and a prepared piece, and I played C major by Bach. They stopped me about 45 seconds to a minute in and said that's good," Bowman said. "They asked me about my musical background, how long I've been playing and what type of different bands I have played in. I told them I don't have the chops like I used to, so it will take a little bit to build them back up."

Bowman started playing the trumpet in fifth grade after he received his first trumpet from his father, Greg, who also played the trumpet and trombone.

"My dad gave me my first trumpet. It was old, beat up and the bell was all smashed up. I played it from elementary school up until the eighth grade. I didn't get a new trumpet until my junior year of high school. When I was in high school, I played every day, five hours a day," he said.

Bowman played the trumpet in his high school's concert, symphonic and jazz bands. He also studied advanced placement music theory. He stopped playing the trumpet when he joined the Air Force in 2006, but would occasionally take it out and play it for his two daughters. His interest in playing more regularly started again when he deployed to Afghanistan.

"During my last deployment to Afghanistan, I wanted to start playing again during my downtime, so my family shipped a new trumpet to me. I just wanted to do something during my free time over there," he said.

Bowman has been stationed at Pope Field since 2006 and will be on temporary duty assignment for 10 months with the Tops in Blue team. He's currently training and rehearsing with 35 new team members at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, until they start their 2014 performance season beginning on Memorial Day weekend.

This training consists of a highly accelerated educational process to prepare them to succeed as world-class entertainers and distinguished Air Force Ambassadors during the 10-month tour. The performers must master the instrumental, vocal, choreography and staging requirements of the show.

In addition, they also must become highly accomplished in the intricate technical skills needed to support the tour. They are in essence their own road crew. Under the guidance of five technical personnel, the performing team is responsible for setting up over 60,000 pounds of staging, lighting, audio, video and special effects equipment required for each performance.

"What the Tops in Blue team does is pretty cool, during the holidays, we'll be over in Afghanistan entertaining the troops, so it will be a good experience," Bowman said.

Tops in Blue serves as an expeditionary entertainment unit to provide quality entertainment from within Air Force resources for the Air Force family, with priority to Air Force personnel stationed worldwide at remote and deployed locations while simultaneously promoting community relations, supporting recruiting efforts and serving as ambassadors for the United States of America and the United States Air Force.

To date, Tops in Blue has traveled over four million miles to military bases throughout the world, performed at six World Fairs, over 100 state fairs and festivals and performed at countless air shows, military balls and special events. Besides giving performances on or near Air Force installations throughout the world, Tops in Blue performs for airmen and at special events upon request, such as the Super Bowl. The group also performs in other venues in support of wounded warriors, hospitals and schools.

Tops in Blue grew out of the Air Force Worldwide Talent Contest created by then Maj. Al Reilly in 1953. Although the mission of Tops in Blue is currently multi-faceted in meeting the needs of the Air Force, it still maintains the original concept of family entertaining family.