If you are out and about this weekend and have a taste for traditional jazz or are salivating for a few choruses of “When the Saints Go Marching In,” you will have no trouble satiating your aural appetite. The Spokane Jazz Society kicks off its First Annual Spokane Dixieland Jazz Festival this weekend. “First annual” implies some tenacity and a vision. Having just returned from Sacramento’s 22nd annual Jazz Jubilee, I know that the sky is the limit with these festivals.
The Sacramento Jubilee is the world’s largest traditional jazz festival, with more than 125 bands from all over the globe attending. Their event not only brings tens of thousands of visitors to their city and hundreds of thousands of dollars to their economy, it strengthens and unifies the community spirit surrounding the event. And it’s a lot of fun.
The program for Spokane’s event looks to be a very strong start in this direction. There will be a big handful of bands performing today, Saturday and Sunday at the Masonic Temple, with three or four performance venues to choose from, and dancing in the Temple ballroom.
The idea for a Spokane festival comes from Dean Martin, who has been hanging out in the festival scene with his wife Jean since 1989, and Norma Stejer, who attended her first festival just last year. The count for annual jazz festivals in the West is up to 138, and they thought it was time to jump on the band wagon.
Martin and Stejer, along with the Spokane Jazz Society, the Davenport Arts & Entertainment District and the Friends of the Davenport have spent more than 16 months working toward this event. They have come up with a good collection of bands, with a variety in the genre, which should make for fun weekend of toe-tapping music.
The groups include the South Frisco Jazz Band, Uptown Lowdown, Hume Street Jazz Band, Stumptown Jazz, Planet Lounge Orchestra, Dixieland Dandies, Tri-City Jazz Band, Big Tiny Little, and Phoenix Jazzers. The bands play in hour and a half sets and rotate, so you can sit in one place and eventually hear them all, or wander to a new spot and catch another group.
There will be an opening ceremony at Spokane’s downtown Wall Street Mall at noon today. Mayor Jack Geraghty will say a few words and Seattle’s Uptown Lowdown will perform. Music at the Masonic Temple can be heard from 4:30 to midnight today, 10:30 a.m. to midnight Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.
On Sunday morning at 9:30 there will be a gospel service at Cavanaugh’s Inn at the Park with Stumptown performing.
Martin says it has been a tremendous amount of work to get the Spokane Dixieland Jazz Festival going, but it is worth it. And the dates for the 1996 Festival have already been set. He’s got the tenacity and really wants to be in that number.
Tickets will be available beginning at 2 p.m. today on Level One of the Masonic Temple, 1108 W. Riverside. They are $15 for all day today or Sunday, $25 for Saturday or $15 for Saturday after 8 p.m.