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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Cherokee Jazz & Blues Festival History

Friday, January 11, 2013

The 6th annual Cherokee Jazz & Blues Festival was in 2006. The festival again featured great talent from far away and close to home, including homegrown Iowa talent.

For example, the headline act, the Mark Pender Band was from New York City. From Kansas City the festival had the Bobby Carson Band. From Lincoln, Nebraska the festival had The Blues Messengers. From Milford, three was the Hooterville All-Stars. From Sioux City, was the Northwest Iowa Musicians, and from Cherokee, the Cherokee Jam Band.

Finally, from Des Moines, for the first time at the festival, The Blue Band and the Des Moines Big Band played.

The City of Cherokee, by order of the Mayor and the City Council, recognized and thanked Mark Pender for his many contributions to the music festival and to the music education of the youth by giving Mark the key to the city. Mark was overwhelmed with the love and kindness.

The 7th Cherokee Jazz & Blues Festival in 2007 was filled with fine performances by many artists from near and far. The Mark Pender Band from New York City and The Blue Band from Des Moines, provided a fine concert Saturday night. The Jim Oatts Sextet conducted the Music Clinic for area high school music students Friday afternoon and then performed in the Pub Crawl Friday night - pleasing jazz enthusiasts with faithful renditions of jazz standards and exploring new territory with their own compositions.

Jazz fans again enjoyed the Northwest Iowa Musicians in the pleasant environment at The Copper Cup coffee shop during the early shift of the Friday night Pub Crawl. The Hooterville All Stars from Milford, and the Blues Messengers from Lincoln, Neb. again provided great Saturday night pub crawl entertainment. Newcomers to the festival, The Hatchlings from Kansas City, Mo. and Something Underground from Denver, Colo. surprised fans of all ages with their strong blues beat and amazing vocal harmonies.

The 8th Cherokee Jazz & Blues Festival occurred in 2008. For the first time in years the festival did not have Mark Pender and his Mark Pender Band to thrill audiences with Mark's unique style of upbeat jazz. Instead, the headline act was Mark's friend Paul Tillotson and his Paul Tillotson Love Trio - also from New York City. They have published several fine CDs and play their own unique style of melodic jazz.

Organizers were confident they would be a big hit with all who heard them. Paul was here in January 2005 and performed along with the Mark Pender Band during the concert. He put on a great show and the audience told organizers to bring Paul back to Cherokee whenever they could!

The opening act for the 2008 concert was Something Underground, the Denver-based Power Trio whose rock and blues high energy stage shows with amazing vocal harmonies endear them to their fans from Colorado to Iowa and beyond. Also returning were The Hatchlings, a Kansas City-based Blues & Jazz trio who impress with their own special power as they revive and renew the spirit in live music.

Again, all were entertained by The Hooterville All Stars and by the Northwest Iowa Musicians - perennial pub crawl favorites. The Jim Oatts Sextet again conducted the Music Clinic and performed their smooth jazz in the Friday night pub crawl. The festival had a new group Friday night in the pub crawl and Sunday afternoon at the jazz brunch buffet - The Paul Tillotson Trio including Paul Tillotson (Keyboard) New York City, James Wormworth (Drums) New York City, and an outstanding local musician David Klee (Bass) Cherokee.

The Paul Tillotson Trio performed in the style of the Paul Tillotson Love Trio. Finally, a newcomer to our festival was The Tom Gary Blues Band. Tom is a blues piano player and vocalist with many years experience in Kansas City prior to his return to Iowa. He founded the Iowa Blues Hall of Fame in Des Moines, and relocated to Storm Lake, where he is an adjunct professor of history and continues to perform his blues music whenever possible. He formed the Tom Gary Blues Band which includes himself, Paul Sleezer (Drums, Vocals) from Cherokee (also with 15 years experience playing the blues in Kansas City), Don Demers (Bass) Storm Lake, and Jimmy Davis (Guitar) Cherokee. These fine musicians blend well and provide an extraordinary blues sound not heard before in Cherokee...

(To be continued in Monday's Chronicle Times)

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