After a smash hit with nearly 300 people in November at the same time as the 75th anniversary of Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, Wartime Radio Revue returns to the Desert Empire Fairgrounds the night of June 7 starting at 7 p.m.
The iconic event will sweep people back in time to the early days of WWII as a 16-piece big band performs 1940s-era patriotic music under the direction of Pete Jacobs.
The event’s presenting sponsor is Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) and its platinum sponsors are Daily Independent, Ridgecrest Regional Hospital, Desert Empire Fairgrounds, Operation Family Fund, Saalex Solutions, Coso Operating Company and The Swap Sheet.
According to the Pete Jacobs Band, Wartime Radio Revue “formed in November of 1997, where they quickly established themselves with appearances at such swingin’ landmarks as The Hollywood Bowl, New York’s Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Catalina’s Casino Ballroom, and have been a regular monthly featured band for many years at Disneyland.”
According to Chip Holloway, executive director of the Desert Empire Fairgrounds, Wartime Radio Revue returns to pay homage to the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the decisive invasion of Normandy by Allied forces that turned the tide of WWII against the Nazi regime.
“They do a show that is very cognizant of the early period of World War II like ‘Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy’ and ‘How High The Moon’ during the event’s first half,” Holloway said. “In the second half, they do music that is more modern, like B-52 or Blue Chicago. It’s real cool with their big horn section (of the band).”
Holloway noted one of the opening acts three women in 1940s Army uniforms.
“They perform in the style of the Anderson Sisters,” Holloway said.
Holloway added that where there’s music, there’s also dancing.
“We set up the dance floor to the side so all the swing dancers can take advantage of swing-style music during the first half,” Holloway said. “During the second half, the dance floor is packed with people who just want to dance.”
“It’s really a unique event as this style of music is fading,” he said. “It’s really amazing talent and in other towns it would be $100 a ticket easy.
Holloway said the group received standing ovations during their November visit in Ridgecrest, prompting several requests to bring it back.
“We’re hoping to double the turnout for this year,” Holloway said. “We got great feedback from every age group ... the way they provide a wide variety of music, I had people from 20 years to 70 who said they had a great time.”
In addition to selling sponsorship-level and general admission tickets, Holloway said the DEF is seeking sponsor admission for veterans or for enlisted members and their spouse.
“We are trying to get people to buy enough tickets so we can donate a minimum 75 free tickets for that reason,” Holloway said. He added the sponsors will be recognized, allowing the opportunity for veterans and enlisted personnel to thank those who donated tickets during the show. General admission seating is $25, but people wanting to sponsor a veteran can purchase tickets for $20. People can contact the DEF office at 760-375-8000 or 520 S. Richmond Road during business hours. Other admission prices are $35 for table seating and $500 for a VIP table that includes seating for eight.
“This will be a great community event that ties in with the 75th anniversary of D-Day,” said DI Publisher John Watkins. “Last time the event was here everyone had a great time.”