Two talented Cherokee natives are among the vast array of talent scheduled to rock this town this weekend at the sixth annual Cherokee Jazz & Blues Festival.
They are Vicki Alexander and Eric Klotz, both Cherokee Washington High graduates, who have tied their careers to and made their marks in music.
Alexander, the daughter of Bob and the late Lori Alexander of Cherokee, moved to Detroit, Mich. after graduation to "find her dream" in music with the professionals at Motown. She describes herself as a "30-year card carrying member of Motown," performing through the years with great musicians at clubs in Detroit, and on tour with such groups as the The Temptations in the United States and in Europe.
Vicki now spends more time teaching music and conducting workshops to complement her performing in night clubs in Detroit.
Vicki's musical skills include alto, bass and soprano flutes; soprano, alto, baritone and tenor saxophones; and sarrusophone and bass clarinets.
A skilled guitarist, Klotz graduated from WHS in 1997 and graduated Summa Cum Laude from Moorhead State University in Moorhead, Minn. in 2002 with a Bachelor of Music and Performance, with a Jazz and Studio Performance emphasis. He is now an adjuct professor of guitar at Moorhead State, currently studying for a Masters of Arts degree.
Klotz began playing guitar at age nine and will be performing solo jazz (electric) guitar Friday and Saturday nights from 9 p.m. to midnight at the Gasthaus.
He is the son of Leo Klotz of Cherokee, and Bob and Diane Byers of Cleghorn.
Alexander will sit in with the Cherokee Jam Band during Friday night's Pub Crawl at the Cherokee VFW Club from 9 p.m. to midnight.
With headliner Mark Pender and his band, who have officially adopted Cherokee as their home away from home, the 2006 Festival promises to be simply superb with many new acts during its three-day run Friday through Sunday, January 6-8.
The sweet sounding action begins on Friday, with a music clinic at Cherokee Middle School conducted by the Jim Oatts Sextet, which includes members of the Des Moines Big Band. The clinic will be conducted completely by the Jim Oatts Sextet, a group of music educators who also perform their music professionally in public. This is the first appearance in Cherokee for Oatts and his band.
The music clinic is free to area high school band directors and their high school music students. Due to space and time limitations, just the first seven schools that respond to participating in the clinic will be accepted.
The always popular Pub Crawls will occur in downtown taverns from 9p.m. to midnight on Friday night, with the Jim Oatts Sextet at the Bullseye Sports Lounge, the Bobby Carson Band at the Brightside Lounge, the Cherokee Jam Band at the VFW Club, and the Northwest Iowa Musicians at the Copper Cup, a non-smoking environment, from 7-10 p.m.
The popular Jam Session featuring all musicians will be hosted from noon to 3 p.m. on Saturday in "The Gathering Place," the street-level great room in the Cherokee Institute of Performing Arts (CIPA) building at 207 W. Main St.
Admission to the Jam Session is $5 per person for non-musicians (general public).
The Cherokee Jazz & Blues Fesitval centerpiece - the big Saturday night concert - will be held in the Western Iowa Tech Community College Conference Center, with the Blue Band performing from 6:30-7:30 p.m., followed by headliner The Mark Pender Band from 7:30-9 p.m.
Pender, the trumpet player with the Max Weinberg 7, house band of the Late Night With Conan O'Brien Show on NBC, will perform with acclaimed guitarist Glenn Alexander, drummer non-pareil Mo Roberts, and new bass man Paul Frazier, who replaces Kevin Jenkins.
The Saturday concert will be followed by more Pub Crawls, with The Blue Band appearing at the Bullseye Sports Lounge, Blues Messengers playing at the Brightside Lounge, the Hooterville All Stars at Jobies Pastime Lounge, and the Bobby Carson Band at the VFW Club.
The concert admission is $15 per person for the general public. The Pub Crawls each night are $10 per person, a one-time fee that entitles patrons to all Pub Crawl venues that night.
Pender, Alexander, Roberts and Frazier also will participate in the Saturday Pub Crawls, free-lancing their way from venue to venue.
A new entry on the Festival schedule this year is an "Elegant Supper & Jazz Music" event from 6-9 p.m. on Sunday featuring the Mark Pender Band. The event will be held in "Macree Hall," the rear wing of the former Garfield Elementary Building at 516 W. Willow St.
Attending this event is by reservation only, and they can be made by calling 225-9908.
Repeat performers this year include the Mark Pender Band from New York City, the Bobby Carson Band from Kansas City, the Hooterville All Stars from the Iowa Lakes area, and the Northwest Iowa Musicians from Sioux City and Northwest Iowa.
Newcomers this year include the Blue Band from Cedar Falls and Des Moines, the Blues Messengers from Lincoln, Neb., Vicki Alexander, and Eric Klotz.
Some of the Iowa musicians appearing in the 2006 Cherokee Jazz & Blues Festival in the heart of Dowtown Cherokee's historic Entertainment & Cultural District have been inducted into the Iowa Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the Iowa Jazz Hall of Fame, and/or the Iowa Blues Hall of Fame.
Cherokean Wayne Morris, currently audio and lights technician for the Cherokee Jazz & Blues Fesitval, and for the Cherokee Community Theater, was inducted into the Iowa Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2005. Morris played many years with the legendary Iowa rock band, The Senders.
Cherokee drummer Paul Sleezer is scheduled to be inducted into the Iowa Rock & Roll Hall of Fame later this year. A key member of the Cherokee Jam Band, his induction is based on his many years of work with area bands and several years with nationally-renowned musicians in the Kansas City area.