Sunday, October 25, 2015

It's all about the jazz - again

Earlier this summer I was looking at the events offered by our local University of Wisconsin - Barron County campus, and noticed a Jazz Fest.  It had a date and brief description and I put it on my calendar.  Then as time went along, Mary and I made plans for her to come to Rice Lake and spend the night so we could go to this concert.  But the week before, I started looking at where to buy tickets and much to my surprise, the concert was no longer listed.  I found emails of folks at the school who I thought might know if the venue had changed, or if the concert was canceled.  These good folks did answer my email queries and I discovered that the date had been moved out about 6 weeks, and the venue was not the Junior High in Cameron.  So, this no longer worked for Mary's visit, and an earlier posting talked about our change of plans.  

Last night, I went to the jazz concert. 
You know how when things start to seem like they are not very well organized, I start thinking, well...this might not be that great.  
Well, by yesterday afternoon, I wasn't really all that excited to go.  
But Carol & Pete and I had planned to go and we all agreed, let's just go and see what it is.
When I arrived at the school, I wasn't sure where to go in and there were no signs directing me.
Several of us were flailing in the parking lot, trying locked doors and not knowing where to go.
Finally, someone realized that there was a curved sidewalk around the building and there was the entrance to the auditorium.
You can probably guess what was going on in my head.

So, we walk into the school and there is a ticket seller at a table and right behind her, the seats and the stage, no entry portal here.  

It was a little awkward walking directly into the venue like that, and for a minute I thought we might have to sit at those round tables with attached stools that the popular in school cafeterias.
The ticket seller assured me that there were seats available and since we had called ahead, we had reserved seats.

So, we went to find seats.  We were in the second row, sitting on those plastic stack-able school chairs, you know, the ones with the tubular metal frames, and no padding.
The Cameron High School Jazz Band was playing warm up and they were in full swing.
Well, we settled in and started listening to the highschool-ers play.
By this time, I was doubting our wisdom at coming to this event, but I have to admit, that didn't last.

The CHS Jazz Band is good, very good.  Jazz has all those solo improvs, and each of these students bravely performed, many having a microphone at their instrument.  Not all were perfect, but all were well done and I was impressed by the bravado of these young musicians.
After a few songs, the stage was reset and the professionals started to filter in.
The MC and lead clarinetist was pretty casual and the whole event seemed to be coming together at that moment, but the result was fabulous.
While there were no programs, so I don't really know the names of all the performers; while there were sound mix issues with the string bass and the piano, with the bass overwhelmingly winning, eventually those were adjusted; while the chairs were less that comfortable, in the end, none of that mattered.
The music was just great.
When we were still listening at 10pm, with a 7pm start time, 
I could hardly believe that the quality of music just got better and better.  
Through the evening we heard several different 'groups', but some musicians played in with more than one, so it was really like a big jam session of really excellent makers of music.  Some of these talent folks are music teachers, and all are local, mostly from the Eau Claire area.
The organizer, Pat Binford, explained that he had sent an email out to many of his musician friends asking who would be interested in putting together a jazz fest 'North of Highway 8'.  To his surprise, he had many respond that they were 'in'.  
So, while there was that date mix up, it still worked out for most of those musicians.
My favorite was a young man Josh Gallagher who played the piano.
I'll be going to see him perform again, he was amazing.
The final song brought most of the musicians back to the stage.

I sure hope that they can pull this together again next year, I'll be first in line for tickets!

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