Yes, music has the power to bring people together. But rarely was that power more desperately needed – or successfully delivered – than the 1940s. And therein lies the power of Bud Forrest’s In the Mood music revue.
“You can argue that the ’40s was one of the most significant decades of the 20th century because of World War II,” says Forrest, who founded and directs the group. “Sixteen million were involved in the war effort one way or the other, and it was the last time all Americans were listening and dancing to the same kind of music, and it gave everyone overseas a reminder what they were fighting for.”
Radio, theaters, ballrooms and concert halls were bursting with the iconic sounds of big bands and swing led by folks like Artie Shaw, Glenn Miller and Benny Goodman. Music didn’t win the war, but its spirit, summoned through songs like “Tuxedo Junction,” “In the Mood” and “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” helped fuel widespread optimism – the tunes were grand, and some added humor that helped relieve stress. “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” even made its way into Abbott and Costello’s 1941 Buck Privates.
On Friday, In the Mood will give the Golden State Theatre a taste of what it must have been like when a big band came to Monterey.
The quintessential big band includes a rhythm, brass and woodwind section. In the Mood takes that a little further with six singers and dancers who choreograph moves and wear costumes authentic to the era, backed by the 13-piece String of Pearls Big Band Orchestra.
“The music is the story,” Forrest says. “But [In the Mood] is presented in a different way than most big bands because it’s not just a concert.”
The variety show highlights a period when the typically smaller bands of the ’20s and ’30s were growing in size and adding sections.
“These songs are all part of our history and our thought process of what this music means to all of us,” Forrest says.
In the Mood began in 1993 with three female singers in Washington, D.C. These days, the outfit travels with a crew of about 24.
“It wasn’t like I woke up one morning and said, “I’m going to do In the Mood,” he says. “After about a five-year period, we had the fortune of being asked to perform on the steps of the National Archives building on Constitution Avenue as part of their World War II 50th commemorative activities.”
After 5,000 people showed up that day, Forrest decided to take the act on the road. He and his creation have toured 20 weeks every year in the fall and the spring, sometimes performing two shows per day.
“We’ve lasted longer than the original big band era,” he says. “It’s two-and-a-half hours of nonstop entertainment.”
IN THE MOOD happens at 2pm and 7:30pm, Friday, March 22, at the Golden State Theatre, 417 Alvarado St., Monterey. $32.50-$49.50. 297-2472.