Festival Roundup December 2016

The legacy of jazzman Danny Barker (1909-1994) lives on at the third annual Danny Barker Banjo and Guitar Festival, Jan. 12-14, in his hometown of New Orleans.

DANNY BARKER BANJO & GUITAR FESTIVAL. (New Orleans, La.) – Jan. 12-15.

The third annual Danny Barker Banjo and Guitar Festival will get under way with Danny’s Birthday Bash at Snug Harbor. (Danny was born on Jan. 13, 1909.) The birthday bash inaugurates four days celebrating Barker’s music and musical instruments featuring some of the top string players in the Crescent City along with many musicians who were influenced by him. Songwriter and guitarist Detroit Brooks is orchestrating the events as he did for the first two festivals.

Performers, venues and prices are all TBA; dannybarkerfestival.com; [email protected]

Red Wood Coast

TUCSON JAZZ FESTIVAL. (Tuscon, Ariz.) – Jan. 12-22, 2017.

Primarily a downtown event with concerts at the historic Fox and Rialto theaters, the Tuscon Jazz Fest embraces a decidedly multi-cultural approach. A free outdoor Downtown Jazz Fiesta will be staged on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Jan. 17, with two stages: one featuring local Latin jazz bands and the other featuring smaller jazz ensembles. Other festival acts include John Pizzarelli, George Benson, Kamasi Washington, Storm Large, Anat Cohen, Howard Alden, DeeDee Bridgewater Quartet, TJI Ellington Band, the Tuscon Jazz Orchestra with Lewis Nash, Tower of Power, Armen Donelian, Storm Large, and the Bird & The Bee.

Tickets cost $45 for VIP seating and $35 for other seating; George Benson tickets cost $96 and $76; VIP tickets cost $339, and each VIP ticket includes one premium seat to all festival concerts from Jan. 16 to Jan. 22 including George Benson and Tower of Power, and exclusive VIP Party on Jan. 18. The festival’s executive director is Yvonne Erwin, former stage manager at Harlem’s Apollo Theater, a founder of the Primavera Jazz Fest, the world’s longest-running women’s jazz festival and producer of the first Jazz on the Border: The Mingus Project, a weeklong festival in Nogales Arizona and Sonora; tucsonjazzfestival.org; (520) 989-0720.

Paul Asaro, one of the best and busiest pianomen in American jazz, holds down the bench in the Fat Babies and plays often with Vince Giordano & The Nighthawks. On Jan. 27-29, Asaro will perform solo in the style of Eubie Blake, at the Eagles & Ivories Weekend, in Muscatine, Iowa.

EAGLES & IVORIES WEEKEND. (Muscatine, Iowa.) – Jan. 27-29.

The 23rd Annual Eagles & Ivories Weekend is staged in Muscatine in southeast Iowa, at four different locations – Sunnybrook, 3515 Diana Queen Drive, Wesley United Methodist Church, 400 Iowa Ave., Muscatine Art Center, 1314 Mulberry Ave. and after hours at Wine-Nutz at 208 West 2nd St. A free eagle watch takes place Saturday morning at Pearl City Station, 200 W. Riverfront, in Riverfront Park, and visitors can also focus their binoculars at the Norbert F. Beckey Bridge, the only span over the Mississippi River nocturnally illuminated with LED lights. The ragtime tunes will be performed by Ivory & Gold featuring Jeff and Anne Barnhart, Scott Kirby, Benjamin Loeb, Paul Asaro, the Mad Creek Mudcats, and the Locust Street Boys

Hot Jazz Jubile

An entire three-day concert package costs $50; individual event admissions range from $5 to $20; children ages 16 and younger are admitted free to all events; muscatineartscouncil.org.

Nominated six times for a Grammy Award, veteran vocalist Nnenna Freelon is booked to sing at the North Carolina Jazz Fest, in Wilmington, Feb. 2-4, 2017. (photo courtesy nnenna.com)

NORTH CAROLINA JAZZ FESTIVAL. (Wilmington, N.C.) – Feb. 2-4.

As the Cape Fear River rolls quietly by, the 37th annual festival resonate rhythmically at the Wilmington Hilton Riverside ballroom, 301 N. Water St. This historic Southern city boasts beautiful art galleries, museums and restaurants, as well as a movie studio and nearby beaches. All evening concerts begin at 7:30 p.m. The Thursday Night Showcase on Feb. 2 focuses on “Styles of Jazz,” with performances by Sea Pans from Trinidad, vocalist Nnenna Freelon and Professor Cunningham’s Traditional Jazz Jam. Friday and Saturday evenings will feature 14 all-star musicians in the traditional seven sets of six or seven players, each set with a different leader. These will be four-and-a-half-hour concerts. Saturday’s Patron Brunch from 10:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. will showcase all of the festival’s musicians culminating in an informal “jam” in which audience members have the opportunity to play with the all-stars._Musicians include trumpeters Randy Reinhart and Bruce Harris, trombonists Jim Fryer and Dion Tucker, reed players Adrian Cunningham and Anita Thomas, pianists Rossano Sportiello and Kevin Bales, bassists Herman Burney and Katie Thiroux, guitarist Nate Najar, violinist Jonathan Russell, drummers Marion Felder and Chuck Redd who will double in vibes.

Three-day patron tickets cost $225, two-day tickets $200; Thursday only $40, Friday $60, Saturday $60; military $25; students $15; ncjazzfestival.com; (910) 793-1111.

Jazz Inspired radio host Judy Carmichael invites listeners to a free three-day musical event on Kiawah Island, S.C. also featuring guitarist Chris Flory and pianist Mark Shane. The alligator’s not yet booked for the weekend. (Jill Duhon photo)


One of the most talented – and loveliest – jazz pianists of the 21st century, Judy Carmichael, invites all her fans to Kiawah Island, a 10,000-acre residential-resort community 21 miles south of historic Charleston, S.C._ Kiawah Island features five golf courses including Ocean Course, the site of the 1991 Ryder Cup and the 2012 PGA Championship, and tennis, water fun and wildlife adventures abound._ The pianist/radio host and guitarist Chris Flory welcome pianoman Mark Shane to the stage on Feb. 8, bassist/saxophonist Mike Karn on Feb. 7, and drummer Tom Melito on Feb. 8.

All concerts are free and open to the public, but tickets are required. For tickets for Jazz Inspired from Kiawah Island, call or email Stephanie Braswell: (843) 768-9166; [email protected]; East Beach Conference Center; Sanctuary Hotel: (800) 654-2924.


SOUNDS OF MARDI GRAS. (Fresno, Calif.) – Feb. 9-12.

The 33rd edition of this festive festival in Fresno kicks off at the Doubletree by Hilton with a Thursday evening pre-party. The schedule picks up Friday with a “Putting on the Ritz” Charleston-themed parade, followed by the annual coronation of the Festival King and Queen, and a hot-jazz Swing Dance. Attendees can meet-and-greet musicians Saturday morning before the Parasol Parade and Masquerade Party and Costume Parade in the grand tradition of Mardi Gras. Things wrap up on Sunday with a Wind Down Dinner and Dance. Bands for 2017 include Grand Dominion JB, High Sierra JB, Midnight Rose, Bob Schulz’s Frisco JB, Climax JB, Tom Rigney & Flambeau, Blue Street JB, Gino & The Lone Gunmen, Devil Mountain JB, Yosemite JB, the Zydeco Flames, Dick Williams’ Jazz Sea Jammers, Doug Finke’s Hot Cookies, Tom Hook & The Terriers, and guest artists Brady McKay and Ken Hall.

Three-day passes cost $105 before Dec. 16, or $110 thereafter; admission prices for individual events range from $20 to $55; day passes are free for those ages 29 and younger, but a free-entry coupon must be obtained; (209) 534-1924; fresnodixie.com.

CENTRAL ILLINOIS JAZZ FESTIVAL. (Decatur, Ill.) – Feb. 10-12.

The city of Decatur is known far and wide as the Soybean Capital of the World and less famously as the birthplace of jazz singer June Christy and saxophonist Boots Randolph. The Juvae Jazz Society presents the 42nd annual festival at the Decatur Conference Center and Hotel, 4191 US 36 West (Wyckles Road) in Decatur is the county seat of Macon County, located smack dab in the center of the Prairie State about three hours south of Chicago. Featured guests for 2017 will be Marilyn Keller, Kathleen Miller and Robin Hopkins; the CIJF All-Stars – Jeff Barnhart, Danny Coots, Eddie Erickson, Russ Phillips, Ken Peplowski, Bobby Durham & Duke Heitger – and bands such as the Dave Bennett Quartet, Red Lehr’s Powerhouse Five, Cornet Chop Suey, Dan Levinson’s New Millenium Band with Molly Ryan, Dixie Daredevils, Millikin Jazz Lab Bands, Hot Jazz Pie, Gator Nation, and the Fat Babies JB. Music rings out Friday from 2 p.m. to midnight, Saturday 10 a.m. to 2 a.m., and Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Swing dance sets are scheduled for Friday and Saturday evenings at Fountain Hall. A Jazz Gospel Service will be conducted at 10 a.m. Sunday featuring Red Lehr’s Powerhouse Five with vocalist Marilyn Keller at Fountain Hall and is free and open to the public.


Admission prices range from $20 to $40; patron packages which include reserved seating at Holiday Hall events, cost $140 before Nov. 15, or $160 thereafter; (217) 546-6091 or (217) 454-2709; juvaejazz.com.


Staged at Capistrano Hall at California State University, Sacramento a.k.a. Sacramento State, the TJYBF is cosponsored by the Sacramento Traditional Jazz Society Foundation and Sacramento State University Jazz Studies in cooperation with the Trad Jazz Educators Network. It is an all-day festival dedicated to the performance and teaching of traditional jazz open to 30 school bands, jazz-club sponsored bands and independent youth bands with combo bands performing non-competitively. Each ensemble receives onstage feedback and a lead-sheet clinic following its performance. Also included is an optional Friday-evening clinician-mentored jam session; Saturday jazz workshop; noon Jazz’n’Pizza jam session; evening showcase of encore performances and more than $4,000 in awards/scholarships; and closing concert featuring trumpeter Jon-Erik Kellso and the Clinicians Band. Kellso is the 2017 guest artist, aided by clinicians Katie Cavera, Bill Dendle, Bob Draga, Ron Jones, Joe and Paul Midiri and Jason Wanner, who will also perform as the all-star Clinicians Band at the Sacramento Traditional Jazz Society’s “Jazz Sunday” at Elks Lodge No. 6.

Festival tickets cost $10 in advance or $12 at the door. Contact ticket chairperson Kathy Becker at (916) 635-7224 or [email protected]. For festival info, call (916) 444-2004; email [email protected]; or visit sacjazzfoundation.org/tjybf/.


SEASIDE JAZZ FESTIVAL. (Seaside, Ore.) – Feb. 23-26.

Formerly called the Oregon Dixieland Jubilee, the Seaside Jazz Festival takes place on the north coast of Oregon in a little town with a population of about 6,500. Seaside is widely known for the stunning sunsets that can be witnessed from its 1.5-mile ocean-side promenade – “The Prom” – as it’s known by the locals. The 34th annual jazz fest, organized and presented by the Lighthouse Jazz Society, is headquartered at the Seaside Civic and Convention Center. Concerts are staged at five featured venues, three at the Convention Center, one at Seaside Elks Lodge 1748, and one at the Best Western Ocean View Resort. All located in downtown Seaside, the venues are within easy walking distance of one another, and a free shuttle service will be running between them. A special Thursday-night performance will kick things off with music by Dave Bennett & The Memphis Speed Kings. The festival officially begins on_Friday afternoon and runs through Sunday afternoon. Each band or performer plays multiple one-hour sets, moving between venues. Seaside’s featured bands include the Blue Street JB, Bob Draga & Friends, Cornet Chop Suey, Black Swan JB, High Sierra JB, Ivory & Gold, Jacob Miller & The Bridge City Crooners, Tom Rigney & Flambeau, Bob Schulz’s Frisco JB, the Roof Garden Jass Band, and the Uptown Lowdown JB.

Festival badges cost $90 through Feb. 1, 2017, and $95 at the door; three-day badges for students cost $15, and kids ages 14 and younger are admitted free if accompanied by a paying adult; daily badge prices range from $20 to $60; PO Box 813, Seaside, OR 97138; information and credit card sales: (866) 345-6257 or (503) 738-8585; jazzseaside.com. Lodging: Visitor’s Bureau: 888-306-2326. Email: [email protected].

SAN DIEGO JAZZ PARTY (Del Mar, Calif.) – Feb. 24-26, 2017.


Eddie Erickson will stand at center stage at the Del Mar Hilton at 2:10 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 26, and be introduced as the 2017 Jazz Legend at the annual San Diego Jazz Party in Del Mar, Calif., 20 miles north of San Diego.

Expected among the 21 musicians performing during the weekend will be three previous honorees: Ed Polcer and Butch Miles, both of whom took part in the first SDJP in 2005, and Rebecca Kilgore, the 2016 honoree. The genial Erickson is a virtuoso banjoist and guitarist, vocal stylist and entertaining showman and is considered one of the most affable and approachable musicians on the jazz circuit today. His first steady job was at the colorful Capone’s Warehouse in Monterey, followed by two years at Disneyland and seven years at Disney World in Florida where he led the Riverboat Rascals. Most recently he has worked with the Rebecca Kilgore Quartet along with Dan Barrett and Joel Forbes. Over the years, he has shared his seasoned skills at youth camps and workshops which he calls “a very rewarding and important experience in helping to keep jazz alive.”

Stride pianists Stephanie Trick and her husband, Paolo Alderighi, will make their first appearances at the party, and others due to perform are Howard Alden, Harry Allen, John Allred, Dan Barrett, John Cocuzzi, Jon-Erik Kellso, Ed Metz Jr., Nicki Parrott, Houston Person, Chuck Redd, Richard Simon, Rossano Sportiello, Dave Stone, and Jason Wanner along with pianist-historian John Eaton who will present a special program on Sunday. This will be the first SDJP directed by Dan Reid, a retired real-estate developer and board member for the past seven years who has taken over from Dave Cooper, who has been in charge the past dozen years and who will continue as treasurer.

All-events badges cost $240 and includes Friday free-bar cocktail party and Saturday jazz brunch; Friday-evening passes cost $80; Saturday passes range from $80 to $130; Sunday passes cost $80; reservations for single sessions accepted after Dec. 1; sandiegojazzparty.com; (619) 787-8792.

SANTA CRUZ RAGTIME FESTIVAL. (Santa Cruz, Calif.) – Feb 24-26.

Surf City becomes Syncopation City on the third weekend of February. The second Santa Cruz Ragtime Festival will be staged at the Calvary Episcopal Church, the Kuumbwa Jazz Center, Lúpulo Craft Beer House and outside on Pacific Avenue, with additional venues TBA. While the rich musical tradition of ragtime will be at the heart of the festival, listeners will be dazzled by interpretations of jazz, swing, boogie-woogie, stride and novelty piano classics performed by some of the best musicians in the world including Michael Chisholm, Danny Coots, Kylan deGhetaldi, Brian Holland, Vincent Matthew Johnson, Carl Sonny Leyland, Jimin Park, Will Perkins, John Reed-Torres, Daniel Souvigny, Adam Swanson, and others.

Ticket prices are TBD; santacruzragtime.com; (831) 421-1734; [email protected].

TRIBUTE TO BIX FEST. (Racine, Wisc.) – March 9-12.

Legendary cornetist Bix Beiderbecke is remembered at this 27th annual fest staged at the Architect Conference Center & Hotel (formerly the Marriott), 7111 Washington Ave., Highway 20, in Racine. Known as the Invention City, Racine is located at the mouth of the Root River, halfway between Milwaukee and Chicago. The brainchild of festival Director Phil Pospychala, the Tribute to Bix Fest offers several unique events including the Annual Bus Tour to Hell, rare films, historical fun lectures,_a 1920s Galaxie Girls chorus line, two days of new/used 78/LP/CD record sales with 50 dealer tables, all-night 78 spinning, late-night jam sessions and lobby cartwheels with the famous Schmooze Gals. “We’re proud to be out of tune with the times,” Phil says. “Good luck to all from Rexall!” Bands include Tuba Skinny featuring Erika Lewis and Shaye Cohn, the Honky Tonk Gang from Germany and Austria, Ralph Norton’s Varsity Ramblers with Andy Schumm, Tom Bartlett and Steve Torrico.

Patron with bus tour plus all events, $100; patron minus bus tour, otherwise all-events, $85; bus tour only, $30; Saturday night concerts, $25; Sunday afternoon concerts, $20; lectures, films, record sales, $5/admission; free admission to after-hours jam sessions; bixfest.com (847) 996-0246; [email protected].

SOUTH COAST CLAMBAKE JAZZ FESTIVAL (North Bend, Oregon) – March 10-12.

Since 1988 jazz fans have flocked to southwestern Oregon to attend the annual South Coast Clambake Festival now staged at the Mill Casino, in North Bend. The bands play at four different venues – the Salmon Room, Hazel Room, Cedar Room and Saw Blade – within the hotel owned and operated by the Coquille Indian Tribe. Located on Highway 101, the venue overlooks lovely Coos Bay, an S-shaped water inlet and estuary where the Coos River enters the big bay. Volunteers from the Bay Area Traditional Society for Jazz (“B.A.T.S for Jazz”) continue to keep the flame burning for Dixieland jazz. This year’s clambake serves a hot mix of traditional jazz, swing, doo-wop, blues, big band and zydeco. Performers will include the Barn Door Slammers, guitarist Lisa Mann, Jacob Miller & The Bridge City Crooners, the Phat Cat Swingers, and others TBA.

All-event badges can be purchased for $75 before March 1, and $85 after that; prices for daily badges range from $16.42 to $53.34. For info, call (541) 267-7665; email [email protected]; or write to P.O Box 374, North Bend, Ore. 97459; or visit clambakejazz.com.


In the years before emancipation, slave owners in New Orleans granted their workers a day off on Sundays to enjoy a little revelry. The slaves would gather in a place known as Congo Square to sing, dance and play drums in keeping with their African heritage. From these hypnotic tribal rhythms and other strains of music that filtered into New Orleans in the late 1800s came the famous musical art form now known as jazz. The 10th annual Congo Square Festival will be staged for free on both Saturday and Sunday, Mar 18-19, from 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. both days, in Louis Armstrong Park, 701 N. Rampart St., in old New Orleans. Performers TBA.

Admission is free, but donations will be accepted; (504) 558-6100; jazzandheritage.org/congo-square; 504-410-4100.


What better place for a Ragtime and Early Jazz Festival than in the heart of the Old West where the cowboys still amble about, saloon girls melt hearts and the uplifting music can be heard playing out onto the streets of this old mining town—Durango, Colorado—known as one of the most scenic places in the world. For three days, the historic Strater Hotel will be filled with the sound of old ragtime tunes and early jazz by an assorted group of entertainers—from young to seasoned, from spirited to swanky, TBA. The 5th Annual Durango Ragtime & Early Jazz Festival also offers silent film comedies, dance lessons, after-hours parties and a Farewell Sunday Brunch in the hotel’s Diamond Belle Saloon. Festival music director is pianist Alan Swanson.

Festival pass for two costs $185; festival pass for one costs $99; day tickets cost $45; individual concert ticket prices cost $20/afternoon, $25/evening; reduced rates for students; silent movie admission costs $8; prices remain subject to change prior to purchase; (970) 375-7160; durangoragtimefestival.com; Strater Hotel: (800) 247-4431.

REDWOOD COAST MUSIC FESTIVAL. (Eureka, Calif.) – March 30-April 2.

The Northern California city of Eureka sits amid towering redwood forests south of Arcata Bay, 275 miles north of San Francisco. Eureka’s atmospheric Old Town waterfront district stands adjacent to this festival’s six venues – The Red Lion Hotel, The Adorni Center, the Eureka Theater, The Sequoia Center, Morris Graves Museum and Eureka Municipal Auditorium. The 27th annual Redwood Coast Music Festival presents four days of traditional jazz, swing, rockabilly and zydeco, and two nights of blues. 2017 performers include Bob Draga & Friends, Jacob Miller & The Bridge City Crooners, Mona’s Hot Four, The Au Brothers, Le Jazz Hot, the Grand Street Stompers with Molly Ryan, Jonathan Stout and His Campus Five, Dave Bennett & The Memphis Speed Kings, the Kris Tokarski Quintet with Chloe Feoranzo, Sonny Leyland & Friends, Stompy Jones, Nathan James & The Rhythm Scratchers, Gator Nation, Cocuzzi and Coots Courtet, Dave Stuckey & The Hot House Gang, Two Tone Steiny & The Cadillacs, Gino & The Lone Gunman, Tom Rigney & Flambeau, and Michael Doucet. Blues artists include Duke Robillard, Rick Estrin & The Nightcats, and the James Harman Band.

Ticket prices are TBA, but in 2016 all-event tickets cost $75, $25 for youth; blues package $40; and daily ticket prices ranged from $25 to $50; 523 Fifth St., Eureka, CA _95501; (707) 445-3378; [email protected]; rcmfest.org.

Pianist Jeff Barnhart serves as artistic director of the Charles Templeton Ragtime and Jazz Music Festival, scheduled for March 30-April 1, at Mississippi State University in Starkville, Miss.


This ragtime romp is named after the Starkville, Miss. businessman who donated his extensive collection of sheet music, instruments, record players and memorabilia to Mississippi State University in the late-1980s. Charles H. Templeton particularly appreciated ragtime music, a genre that enjoyed its peak popularity between 1895 and 1918, right around the time Machine Gun Kelly was attending Mississippi State during World War I. Although this decade-old festival has academic roots – it’s hosted by the University Library and the Charles Templeton Sr. Music Museum as a means of enhancing research of early jazz – it showcases some of the world’s best ragtime and stride piano players. For 2017, Festival Artistic Director Jeff Barnhart, himself a talented pianist, will perform along with keyboardist Brian Holland and Dan Levinson’s Roof Garden Jass Band from NYC. Daytime events take place in the Templeton Music Museum, while evening concerts are staged at McComas Hall Auditorium.

All-event tickets cost $50; Friday only $30; Saturday only $30; individual concerts $10; and seniors receive a 20 percent discount; P.O. Box 5408, Mississippi State, MS 39762; (662) 325-6634; Lynda Graham, 662-325-6634, email: [email protected]; library.msstate.edu/ragtimefestival.


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Russ Tarby is based in Syracuse NY and has written about jazz for The Syncopated Times, The Syracuse New Times, The Jazz Appreciation Society of Syracuse (JASS) JazzFax Newsletter, and several other publications.

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