No Pender for rocking party, but Storm Lake bluesman Tom Gary helps fill the void
The 8th annual Cherokee Jazz & Blues Festival is scheduled to rock the area with music Friday through Sunday, January 4-6.
Because of scheduling difficulties, for the first time in years Mark Pender and his Mark Pender Band will not be able to bring their unique style of upbeat jazz to northwest Iowa.
Pender is trumpet/guitar player for the Max Weinberg 7, the house band for The Late Show With Conan O'Brien on NBC.
Instead, the headline act will be Mark's friend, Paul Tillotson and his Paul Tillotson Love Trio - also from New York City. They have published several popular CDs and play their own unique style of melodic jazz. Festival organizers expect their upbeat style to be a big hit.
Tillotson was here in January 2005 and performed along with the Mark Pender Band during the popular Saturday night concert at Western Iowa Tech Community College Conference Center in Cherokee. Audiences asked for more.
The opening act for the big Saturday night concert this year will be Something Underground, the Denver-based Power Trio whose rock and blues high energy stage shows and vocal harmonies endear them to their fans from Colorado to Iowa and beyond.
SUG musicians are brothers Seth and Josh Larsen, and Trevor Mariotti. The Larsen brothers' parents are Cherokee natives, and their paternal grandparents live in Cherokee.
Also returning will be The Hatchlings, a Kansas City-based Blues & Jazz trio who impress with their own special power as they aim to revive and renew the spirit in live music. Fans raved about the quality of The Hatchlings' music last year.
Local audiences will be entertained by The Hooterville All Stars and by the Northwest Iowa musicians - perennial pub crawl favorites.
The Jim Oatts Sextet will again conduct the Music Clinic at the Cherokee Middle School and perform their smooth jazz in the Friday night pub crawl.
The new group - Paul Tillotson Love Trio - will also be playing Friday night in the pub crawl and Sunday afternoon at the jazz brunch buffet. The Paul Tillotson Trio for those events include Paul Tillotson and two outstanding local musicians - David Klee (on bass, a Cherokee resident and professor at Buena Vista University) and Jim Christensen (on drums, Holstein).
A newcomer to the festival will be The Tom Gary Blues Band. Tom is a blues piano player and vocalist with many years experience in Kansas City, prior to his return to Iowa. He founded the Iowa Blues Hall of Fame in Des Moines, and relocated to Storm Lake where he is an adjunct professor of history at Buena Vista University and continues to perform his blues music whenever possible.
He has formed the Tom Gary Blues Band which also includes Paul Sleezer (drums, vocals) from Cherokee (also with 15 years experience playing the blues in Kansas City), Don Demers (bass) Storm Lake, and Jimmy Davis (guitar) Cherokee.
Tickets for the weekend's events are available now at the Cherokee Chamber of Commerce, 712-225-6414, or the The Copper Cup, or State Farm Insurance in Cherokee.
Ticket Prices: Pub Crawls Friday and Saturday night - $10 per person - a one-time fee which authorizes entry for the patron to each pub crawl venue for that night only. Jam Session - $5 per person for non-musicians. Musicians, high school or adult, free. Saturday night Concert - $15. Sunday Jazz Brunch Buffet and an afternoon of jazz with the Paul Tillotson trio - $15. (For buffet reservations call Gasthaus Catering at 712-225-9908 by Dec. 31.