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Jazz & Blues Festival survives bad weather

Monday, January 12, 2009

Sounds of Zollo David Zollo is pictured above at the Cherokee Bowl on Friday. He delivered what can be described as gut-bucket rock. Photo by Mike Leckband
Revelers, volunteers support popular Cherokee event

Although ice-covered roadways, sidewalks, and parking lots, plus single-digit temperatures, hammered the usual turnout numbers for last weekend's Cherokee Jazz & Blues Festival, enthusiastic organizers say the show will go on and the 2010 Festival - the 10th - will be the biggest and best yet.

In fact, organizers have already booked next year's headliner, The Mark Pender Band, a frequent past performer at the Jazz & Blues Festival here, last playing in Cherokee at the 2007 Festival. Pender is a popular musician with the Max Weinberg 7, the house band for The Conan O'Brien Show on NBC Television.

Cool setting Corvo's Restaurant welcomed the Eric Klotz Trio on Friday. This was the first year that Corvo's hosted a band and provided a cool setting during the 9th Cherokee Jazz and Blues Festival. Photo by Mike Leckband
Those dates for the 10th Jazz & Blues Festival are Friday through Sunday, Jan. 1-3, 2010.

When asked about scheduling the popular Cherokee event over New Year's Day, organizer Jim Adamson said the committee wanted to take advantage of the presence of college kids who would be on break at that time and who have provided a majority of music lovers who have attended the Jazz & Blues Festival in the past.

According to organizers, the bad weather that struck the Cherokee area last Friday and Saturday caused an estimated 40-percent drop in the attendance at the Grand Concert by the Kelley Hunt Band at Cherokee's Western Iowa Tech Community College Conference Center.

Oh! Kelley Kelley Hunt entertained the crowd with her jazzy piano playing as she headlined the Saturday night Grand Concert held at Western Iowa Tech Community College during the 9th Cherokee Jazz & Blues Festival. Photo by Vanessa Reusch
It also hampered the crowds at the various Friday and Saturday night Pub Crawls associated with the Festival. Adamson said some Pub Crawl venues were pleased with their turnout and the bar business they experienced, while others said the weather definitely cut into their crowds and revenues.

Pub Crawls were scheduled at The Copper Cup, Corvo's, Cherokee Bowl, The Other Place, and The Gathering Place on Friday night, and at the VFW Club, Cherokee Bowl, The Other Place, and The Gathering Place Saturday night.

The annual Sunday Brunch Buffet also featuring Kelley Hunt at The Gathering Place, attracted more than 120 people, nearly a record crowd, according to Adamson.

A jewel named Jimmy Jimmy Davis performed with the Tom Gary Blues Band at The Gathering Place. Davis is pictured playing his guitar on stage during Friday night's Cherokee Jazz and Blues Festival. Photo by Mike Leckband
A check with the three Cherokee motels showed that about 75-percent of the people who previously had booked rooms for the Jazz & Blues Festival canceled on Saturday due to the inclement weather.

Adamson also was quick to congratulate and heartily thank the many dedicated volunteers who are vital to putting on a Jazz & Blues Festival of this magnitude.

A tip of the hat and heartfelt congratulations also go to Fred and Linda Springer and their daughter Nicole, and Fred's brother Dale Springer, for putting on the delicious and bountiful free breakfast served at the Depot from midnight to 3 a.m. Saturday.

Kicking off the night Kicking off the Cherokee Jazz and Blues Festival on Friday night was The Northwest Iowa Musicians who performed at The Copper Cup. This group of talented musicians played to an enthusiastic crowd. Photo by Mike Leckband
Other volunteers who worked the late-night hours for the breakfast included Steve and Leslie Schroeder, Kimmy Laposky, Nathaniel Beyerly, Sandi Beals, Dan Meloy, and Jim Adamson.

The dedicated Cherokee County Pork Producers donate all the sausage, bacon, and ham used for the breakfast.

Another main feature proving quite popular this year was the Festival's renovated website, originally developed and maintained by Mark Pender, and later updated by Linda Ducommun and her sister Karla Frehse. This year Ducommun completely redesigned and upgraded the attractive, informative, entertaining website, resulting in 2,800 visitors in december through Jan. 4.

"This is obviously a great additional way for people to learn about our Festival," noted Adamson. "It's a helpful add-on to advertisements and stories in the Chronicle Times and on KCHE, but definitely not a substitute for local newspaper and radio coverage."

How does this work? Brittney Thomas shows dad Steve Thomas how to run the fancy camera during the Saturday Jam Session held at the Gathering Place during the 9th Cherokee Jazz & Blues Festival. Photo by Vanessa Reusch
Above it all, according to Adamson and Meloy, the loyalty and hard work of the local volunteers and all those participating in the Grand Concert and Pub Crawls, have enabled the organizers to pay all the bills, with a little seed money remaining to help fuel next year's Big Bash.

Adamson also lauded the work of the designated driving corps, who faithfully shuttle imbibing music lovers from venue to venue, among those Mike Rose, Ron Oman, Rhonda Fassler, and Mary Bierman.

"They are a phenomenon," said Adamson in appreciation of the work this group does each year.

Until then, 2010!

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