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Friday, May 6, 2016

Local boys to bring down the house

Friday, December 26, 2008

Members of the popular Tom Gary Blues Band include, left to right, Paul Sleezer (drums/vocals)), Jimmy Davis (guitar/vocals), Tom Gary (piano/vocals), and Don Demers (bass/vocals). File photo
Tom Gary Blues Band a Jazz & Blues Festival favorite

On Friday, Jan. 2, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. the Northwest Iowa Musicians will be kicking off the annual Cherokee Jazz & Blues Festival by playing at The Copper Cup.

The Pub Crawls will from 9 p.m. to midnight with The Eric Klotz Trio at Corvo's, The David Zollo Trio will be performing at the Cherokee Bowl's Blue Room Lounge, Something Underground will be performing at The Other Place, and Tom Gary Blues Band will be performing at The Gathering Place.

The festival will continue on Saturday, Jan. 3 with the Jam Session from noon to 3 p.m. at The Gathering Place, and The David Zollo Trio will be hosting this event. Local musicians are welcome to sign up for this event.

The Cherokee Jazz and Blues Festival Main Concert will be held at Western Iowa Tech Community College's Conference Center starting at 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, with this year's headliner Kelley Hunt, blues pianist/vocalist, with opening act The Erick Hovey Band.

Pub Crawls on Saturday are from 9 p.m. to midnight and the Erick Hovey Band will be performing at the VFW Club, Something Underground will be performing at the Cherokee Bowl's Blue Room Lounge, The David Zollo Trio will be performing at The Other Place, and Eric Klotz Trio will be at The Gathering Place.

On Sunday, Jan 4 the Brunch Buffet will begin at 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at The Gathering Place, featuring once again, Kelley Hunt.

The Jim Oatts Quintet Student Music Clinic will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Cherokee Middle School on Friday, Jan. 16. This event is free to area high school band directors and their high school music students. Due to space and time limitations, the event is only accepting the first five schools who indicate they want to participate in the music clinic.

For more nformation about the music clinic contact Paul McEntaffer, Band director, Cherokee Washington High School, 600 W. Bluff St. Cherokee, IA 51012, or call 225-6755.

Tickets for the Cherokee Jazz and Blues Festival are available at Cherokee Chamber of Commerce, 225-6414; The Copper Cup, 225-5287; and State Farm Insurance, 225-5747.

The Tom Gary Blues Band is made up of four outstanding local musicians. The band features Jimmy Davis, Don Demers, Tom Gary and Paul Sleezer.

Jimmy Davis plays guitar and bass, and is a true student of music who places a high value on music education and learning. He was born and raised in Cherokee, bought his first guitar at age 14, and played professionally for a couple of years after high school. He became Deacon of Music at a church in Sioux City and held that post for several years. He lived away from Cherokee from 1977 until 2002 when he returned and established the Cherokee Jam Band which later performed in the Cherokee Jazz & Blues Festival in January of 2004, 2005, and 2006. He is currently a member of the Crosby, Stills, Nash Tribute Band and is also a member of the Tom Gary Blues Band. Jimmy resides in Cherokee where he works at and is part owner of The Gathering Place. He and his partners founded the Cherokee Institute of Performing Arts (CIPA) for the purpose of providing music education at The Gathering Place.

Don Demers plays bass, and he is self taught! Don was born and raised in Storm Lake and bought his first bass in 1986 at the age of 24. He played 10 months with a 3-piece band from Fort Dodge and then worked for a band from the Omaha area from 1989 to 1990. Don moved to Nashville, Tennessee in the Spring of 1991 and worked there for several years - performing with Country Western music stars such as Tanya Tucker, Tracey Lawrence, Shelly West and Chely Wright - and appearing several times on television. Currently Don resides in Storm Lake where he is a member of musical groups SOS and Who's Driving, and also performs his music in church.

Tom Gary is an extraordinarily gifted piano player and singer. He was born and raised in Des Moines where he learned the Blues in high school. He played professionally in college in 1982. Tom moved to Kansas City in 1986 and performed there until 1990 with Lonesome & Dangerous and with John Paul and the Hell Hounds. From 1991-1996 he performed with his own Tom Gary Blues Band in Des Moines and toured with his band in Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri, and Kansas. In

1993 he founded the Central Iowa Blues Society in Des Moines.

In 1999 he founded the Iowa Blues Hall of Fame in Des Moines.

Tom resides in Storm Lake, Iowa where he is an Adjunct Professor of History at Buena Vista University and continues to teach a Blues

Series he started in 2005.

Paul Sleezer plays drums and sings all manner of music from rock 'n roll to country western to big band swing to jazz and blues. Born and raised in Cherokee, Paul took piano lessons for a short time before acquiring his interest in playing the drums. His early influences included Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley, Ritchie Valens, and "all the early rockers and blues cats." Paul began playing professionally as a freshman in high school with Howard (Tiny) Witcombe's group. Paul's father signed a legal paper to make Tiny legal guardian of Paul on weekends so that Paul could play in bars where alcohol was served. Paul often worked for Don Speelmon in the early years.

Over the past 40+ years Paul has played throughout the Midwest and Southeast from Chicago to Kansas City to Florida and back, and worked one summer in Puerto Rico playing on the military bases the United States had there. In 2006 Paul was inducted into the Iowa Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame at Arnolds Park, Iowa. He is still the only person to be inducted twice in one year. Paul returned to Cherokee in 2002 and met with his friend Jimmy Davis who also returned to Cherokee that year. Paul eventually joined the Cherokee Jam Band created by Jimmy Davis and performed with that band in the Cherokee Jazz & Blues festivals of January 2004, 2005, and 2006.

Paul resides in Cherokee and works with several bands - mostly on weekends. He plays Country music with one group, and Rock 'n Roll and Blues with the other groups. He plays drums and sings with The Tom Gary Blues Band, and is looking forward to being with that group and part of the Cherokee Jazz and Blues Festival again in 2009.

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