After the great jazz/swing music on July 29 and 30, I planned to enjoy the Sunday festival program. In my past three visits, I was able to attend the Jazz gospel service at 9:15 a.m., but then had to head back to Hays for work Monday. If you don't arrive at the Christian Church by 8:45 a.m., it's standing-room only.
At the east end of the church nave is an elevated concrete stage for the performing jazz groups. As you enter the church, you are greeted by several hand and stick puppets, New Orleans style. The Queen City (Denver) Jazz Band with vocalist Wende Harston was the featured service music artist and they played and sang great gospel music throughout the service.
Newly arrived pastor Duncan Miller told the congregation when he was interviewed, he was told to anticipate this service every year.
At the end of the service, Harston and the band sang and played "When the Saints Go Marching In." We exited the church with the puppets and umbrellas leading the way.
I decided to have an early lunch and headed for Beaujo's restaurant, where I sat on their over-hanging patio and enjoyed the rushing Bear Creek below. I asked myself the proverbial question -- Why did I ever leave Colorado? The answer is "because Dr. Gene Siler invited me to join his ophthalmology practice."
After lunch, I returned to the church for the noon session with the Don Stiernberg Quartet highlighting "Jack and Chet" vocalists Jack Teagarden and Chet Baker. Leader Don plays a 1996 Nugget two-point mandolin and he has a new CD entitled "Swing 220."
While visiting the church's restroom, somebody "borrowed" my festival program, which was filled with many notes about the performances.
I picked up a new program and stayed at the church for the 1:30 p.m. session with "Centerpiece Jazz" and vocalist Joni Janak. Two of the band members, Ed Stephen (guitar) and Ron Moewes (drums) are the only two musicians who have played at all 10 festivals.
The quartet, featuring special guest Rich Chiaraluce (sax/flute), played "The American Songbook" in five parts during three days.
The songbook is a construct that seeks to represent the best American songs of the 20th century, especially the '20s to '50s era. It became and remains a vital part of the repertoire of jazz musicians and describes such songs simply as "jazz standards."
After part four, featuring "Dream," and "When You're Feeling Blue -- That's the Thing to Do," I drove back to the Elks ballroom patio to catch the "After Midnight" sextet playing "It Don't Mean a Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing" and "Opus No. 1."
Wrapping up the afternoon was the 53-year-old Queen City Jazz Band, with Harston playing a "chorale," a harmonization of traditional melodies, including "Little Girl," "Istanbul," "Lazy Bones" and "Puttin' on the Ritz."
The final set was entitled "Antie Show Reluctant Genius" produced by "After Midnight." In 1910, Artie Shaw started playing the saxaphone, but switched to clarinet. He was the first to use strings and a harpsichord. In 1940, he was the highest paid entertainer, earning $60,000 per week. He also wasmarried eight times.
When Germans were asked what they knew about America, they answered "skyscrapers and Artie Show." He had a successful "Gramercy Five," a small group ensemble.
The final musical piece was " 'S Wonderful," a fitting end to a wonderful festival. Next year's festival will be July 27 to 29. Check www.evergreenjazz.org for the latest updates this December.
In recognition of the 10th anniversary of the festival, the board of directors authorized a commemorative music CD of the past 35 participating musical groups. I purchased this CD and I'll be playing this music in the gallery room at the Hays Public Library from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday.
Come listen and/or dance to this classic jazz/swing era music. I'll bring along two new CDs from festival bands.
I'm proud to have my name listed in the program as a benefactor and will continue to promote the Evergreen Jazz Festival.
Harry Watts, Hays, is an AARP Community Service Volunteer.