Bert Barr was the founder and leader of the Uptown Lowdown Jazz Band which reigned in the North West for decades with its signature “Seattle Sound”. When he died in April it was clear that the band could not go on without him. But fans of their specific style of West Coast Revival Jazz will have one more chance to hear the band play under that name.
America’s Classic Jazz Festival is back this year after a hiatus and a highlight will be a tribute to Bert Barr and the final performance of Uptown Lowdown. And yes you can plan on hearing one of their signature Apostles of Sax sets featuring Uptown Lowdowners with friends from other groups in a bass sax extravaganza.
The 28th America’s Classic Jazz Festival, sponsored by the Greater Olympia Dixieland Jazz Society, will be held June 27-30th in Lacey WA. The festival is back after their usual location on Saint Martin’s University campus was unavailable last year. This year they have expanded RV accommodations and the festival will feature four stages, three dance floors, and a lineup that doesn’t miss a beat.
Top bands from across the country are on board including Black Swan with Marilyn Keller, Toledo’s Cake Walkin’ Jass Band, CanUS, Chicago’s Fat Babies, Denver’s Queen City JB, Wolverines JB,, Tom Rigney’s Flambeau, Josh Duffee’s Graystone Monarchs, Grand Dominion, and from closer to home Ray Skjelbred, and Washington State’s Evergreen Jazz Band. Thursday night alone will feature five bands to kick off the festival, and Sunday will carry on into an After Glow Party at a local venue.
Jeff Barnhart will again lead Charlottes’s Boys, named for the festival’s director for the last 25 years, Charlotte Dickison. She is especially worthy of the tribute this year having successfully navigated the festival back to full strength. We can also announce that she is wise enough to step aside while she’s on top. Now in her 90s, she is retiring from directing the festival after this year and has found a capable replacement to lead it into the future.
The new festival director will be Karla West of Kalispell, MT. In 1994 she launched the Glacier Jazz Stampede in her home town. As festival director, she expanded the event to include several venues across town and ticket sales in the 600 range. She also brought in national acts playing ragtime, Dixieland, and swing. The Rocky Mountain Rhythm Kings, the band she helped found in 1988, enjoy a weekly Dixieland gig at a sporting goods store and are a fixture of life in the town. America’s Classic Jazz Festival will be in good hands as it approaches the thirty year milestone.