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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Cherokee Jazz & Blues Festival History

Monday, January 14, 2013

The 9th Cherokee Jazz & Blues Festival occurred Friday through Sunday, January 2-4, 2009. It was the earliest festival ever, starting only one day into the New Year.

Headliner for the concert Saturday night was Kelley Hunt, blues pianist and vocalist. She gave an outstanding performance. The opening act was the Erick Hovey Band, widely acclaimed for unpretentious, clean, high-energy original music.

Erick and his band likewise performed in an outstanding manner. Other performers in the 9th Cherokee Jazz & Blues Festival included the David Zollo Trio from Iowa City. David played piano and sang, and performed many of his own tunes. He was a happy performer who easily engaged with his audience and kept the mood light and fun.

Audiences were also entertained by Something Underground who again attracted huge crowds during their pub crawl performances. The Eric Klotz Trio performed music that combined elements of jazz, rock, blues, and funk. The Tom Gary Blues Band performed many cover songs but mostly original compositions by Tom Gary, leader of the band, and an outstanding blues pianist and vocalist.

For the first time ever the Music Clinic happened one week after the festival weekend because area high school music students were on vacation away from school during the festival weekend. The Music Clinic was led by the Jim Oatts Quintet from Des Moines and central Iowa.

The 10th Cherokee Jazz & Blues Festival was held January 8-10, 2010. The festival celebrated its 10th anniversary by bringing back the amazing jazz singer Kevin Mahogany and the amazing trumpet player Mark Pender, both originally from Kansas City, Mo.

Kevin performed in the very first Cherokee Jazz Festival, and Mark first performed here in 2003 when organizers restarted the festival. Kevin helped the festival get off to a great start. Mark reinvigorated the festival and helped build an audience year after year.

In January 2010 in addition to Kevin and Mark, the festival had other outstanding musicians such as Glenn Alexander Trio (New York City), The Hatchlings Band (Kansas City), Kelly Richey Band (Cincinnati, Ohio), Something Underground (Denver, Colo.), and musicians from Iowa including Northwest Iowa Musicians (Sioux City), and Buffalo Ridge Band (Cherokee,).

The festival had jazz, blues, and rock 'n roll!

The Saturday night concert opening act was the Cherokee Washington High School Jazz Band, followed by the Mark Pender Band as the headliner. Kevin Mahogany performed in a special Sunday afternoon concert at the Cherokee Community Center. He was accompanied by outstanding jazz musicians from Sioux City.

The 11th Cherokee Jazz & Blues Festival was scheduled for Jan. 7-9, 2011. Opening act at the Saturday night concert was Adam Schroeder, Los Angeles based baritone saxophonist (jazz) who was born and raised in Sioux City. He was accompanied onstage by Sioux City musicians Eddie Dunn (Bass), Charles Sanders (Keyboard), and Randy Washburn (Drums). Headlining the concert was Levee Town, a radiantly hot rockin' and blues and rockabilly foursome out of Kansas City.

They also hosted the jam session Saturday afternoon. Another great performer was Mary Bridget Davies, blues singer who can sound just like Janis Joplin. In addition, The festival had Bob Dorr & The Blue Band (Blues, Soul, Rockabilly, Creole, Rhythm) from Central Iowa; and Erick Hovey (Blues, Rock 'n Roll, Country, Swing, Pop) from the Fort Dodge, area; David Zollo and the Body Electric (American Roots Music, Rock 'n Roll, Blues) from Iowa City; Jimmy Davis & Friends (Progressive Rock) from Cherokee; Dr. David Klee & The Jazz Express (Jazz) from Cherokee and Omaha; and a Youth Talent Showcase hosted by David & Judi Klee at The Spice Rack (featuring a talent showcase of young musicians in the area).

The 12th Cherokee Jazz & Blues Festival occurred Jan. 13 & 14, 2012. Organizers planned and accomplished something new for the Saturday night main event. Instead of a concert with an opening act and a headline act, they had the Lonny Lynn Orchestra - a ballroom dance band who performed a three-hour set of familiar and much-loved dance music from the Big Band era.

The audience loved the music, danced to every song, and requested that organizers include swing music to dance to in future festivals. Other outstanding musicians featured in the 12th festival included Glenn Alexander and his daughter Oria Aspen (Pop, Rock) from New Jersey; Mary Bridget Davies Band (Blues) from Kansas City who hosted the jam session and performed in the Saturday night pub crawl; Ross William Perry Band (Blues) from Minnesota; Damon Dotson Band (Pop, Ballads) from the Iowa Lakes area; Chad Elliott (Blues, Folk, Roots) from Coon Rapids; Johnnie Bolin Band (Rock Fusion) from Sioux City; and Bob Pace Band (Jazz) from Des Moines.

Also, as in each of the festivals, a Music Clinic was held on Friday morning and afternoon for invited area high school music students and their band directors.

Jim Oatts and his colleagues from central Iowa led the Music Clinic. As in past years the band directors expressed appreciation for the learning opportunity.

This year's 13th annual Cherokee Jazz and Blues Festival will be held this Friday and Saturday.

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