Friday, October 18, 2019
Sun Valley Jazz and Music Festival to Woo with Free Concerts
The dance competitions are popular with dancers and spectators alike.
Monday, October 16, 2017


Do the Lindy Hop, the Charleston, the Six Count Swing and other dances when the 28th annual Sun Valley Jazz and Music Festival gets underway on Wednesday.

Dance lessons come with admission, and dance fans can get off the ground quick, taking advantage of dance lessons as soon as the five-day festival starts up on Wednesday afternoon

Dance instructors will teach the Beginning Six count Swing at 2 p.m.; the Charleston, at 3:30 p.m.; Lindy Hop, at 5 p.m. and Balboa at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at River Run Lodge. Line dancing and other forms of dancing are included in the days that follow.

The Yale Whiffenpoofs are the nation’s oldest a cappella men’s singing group.

Prefer to sit and let your feet do the tapping?

The Jazz Fest will introduce audiences to some of its performers during free Jazz in the Square concerts at the Ketchum Town Square at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday through Friday.

The Carolyn Martin Swing Band will perform on Wednesday; the zydeco band Gator Nation, on Thursday, and the “All New” High Street Party Band, which plays popular tunes dating back to the 1950s, on Friday.

Other free concerts include Yve Evans and the Sun Valley Hallelujah Chorus at 6:30 p.m., Wednesday in the Sun Valley Opera House, and the Yale Whiffenpoofs at 2 p.m. Friday, at the Sun Valley Inn Duck Pond. The Wood River High School Dixie Band will perform at 6:30 p.m. Thursday and the Northwest Nazarene University at 8 p.m. Friday, both at Carol’s Dollar Mountain Lodge, which is being made over into Tom’s Jazz Club.

Many Jazz Fest goers come to dance as much as they come to listen.

The free concerts are designed to offer people a glimpse of what’s behind the curtain at the annual Jazz Fest, said Carol Loehr, who co-directs the festival with her husband Jeff Loehr.

“There’s a new vibe going around. The crowd’s younger. We have new young musicians. Sparks are flying,” she added.

The Carolyn Martin Swing Band is one of three new bands at the festival.

  • The Carolyn Martin Swing Band features a Western Swing Hall of Fame Inductee, who has been said to have one of the finest western swing voices in the business. The band recently recorded the Western Swing Album of the Year.
  • The Paris Washboard band has been endowing traditional jazz around the world with the help of a clarinet, trombone, piano and washboard for 25 years.
  • And the Terry Myers Quartet features a band leader who has led a big band tribute to Benny Goodman for 20 years, in addition to leading the Artie Shaw Band and the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra. The quartet will feature Jamie Roberts on vocals. The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, in fact, will play at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 18.

Young talent, such as that of these college students, is showcased during the festival.

The festival started 28 years ago as the Sun Valley Swing ‘n Dixie Jazz Festival but has branched out in recent years to include Cajun, zydeco, blues, military band music and popular tunes served up by the Yale Whiffenpoofs, alongside tributes to legends like Al Hirt and Louie Armstrong.

This year’s festival will feature 40 bands featuring 200 musicians, performing a variety of special sets from a Marching Band Salute on Saturday morning  to the Kings of Swing tribute to Glenn Miller and his orchestra on Saturday night.

Music plays simultaneously at eight different venues, beginning at 2 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 18, and running through Sunday, Oct. 22.

In addition to the dance classes, high-flying dance competitions are popular with armchair dancers.

Brian Casserly of Cornet Chop Suey has been playing at the festival since its beginnings in 1989.

Attendees with a nose for adventure can always find something. Last year’s festival, for instance, saw  signs outside the Sawtooth Room pointing to the meeting of the Temperance Society. Inside, the darkened room featured volunteers in flapper dresses and men in derby hats serving up cocktails as the Black Swan Classic Jazz Band served up notes for the dancers.

Others were enthralled by the husband-wife piano duo of Stephanie Trick and the Italian Paolo Alderighi, who used four hands and an elbow to pound out their tunes on one piano. They played over and under each other. And, occasionally, they did the piano version of the Chinese fire drill, practically pushing one another off the piano bench in a performance that demonstrated just how high-energy a piano concert could be.

A general admission pass good for all five days costs $177. Day passes start at $37 and evening passes good from 5 p.m. to midnight start at $28. College students’ five-day pass costs $50, while high school students’ costs $20. Admission is free for children under 13 who are accompanied by an adult pass holder.

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