MUSICIAN Bud Forrest played for a lot of US presidents over the 30 years he was in the United States Air Force Band in Washington DC, but now finds his big band show In the Mood more rewarding.
“It was always a thrill but honestly these days I’m more interested in playing to that elderly woman who looks up at our sailor dancing on the stage and remembers how her husband used to be just like that,” Forrest said from his home in Williamsburg, Virginia.
“That’s more important to me than all the other stuff; I know that we’re touching people in a way that’s hard to describe but I can see it.
“It’s not what I set out to create, it’s just a by-product of what the music and lyrics stand for.”
Forrest is the creator, producer, artistic director and pianist for In the Mood, an all-singing, all-dancing, all-American celebration of swing jazz featuring his String of Pearls Orchestra that transports audiences around the world to America in the 1940s with a set list including Chattanooga Choo Choo and Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy (of Company B).
The show will tour Australia for the third time in September after more than two decades on the road.
Forrest said the production was by no means an overnight success.
“I was in Washington DC in 1988 working as a freelance musician and decided to put together a singing group focusing on the music of The Andrews Sisters because I felt like they had a lot of pizzazz and energy,” he said.
“I found three young ladies and started it for fun, but the fun part began to get work and before I knew it we needed to perform the Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy but didn’t have a trumpet player, so I added a nine-piece band, a male singer and more musicians.
“In 1993 we were asked to perform as part of World War II 50th commemorative activities and in 1994 we started going out on tour, never knowing that in 2016 I’d be speaking to you in Perth.”
Forrest said In the Mood was first and foremost a music show of timeless songs telling a story through lyrics.
“I think it’s the infectious nature of the big band sound that really catches the imagination with music being the universal language,” he said.
“People come up to me and ask how many times can I possibly play Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy and I tell them if there’s one person in the audience who I’m playing it to for the first time, it makes it all worthwhile.”
What: In the Mood
Where: Subiaco Theatre
When: September 15 to 17