Legendary jazz/blues pianist headlines area festival Jan. 2-4
The weather outside may be frightful, but there's nothing like some hot musical licks to fire up the winter music scene in northwest Iowa.
The ninth annual Cherokee Jazz & Blues Festival will be held January 2-4 with headline performer Kelley Hunt. The blues pianist and vocalist from Kansas City, now residing in Lawrence, Kansas, has a commanding, passionate stage presence as a vocalist, piano player and songwriter. She has earned the respect of critics and fans across North America and Europe performing in over 1,500 live shows.
Kelley will star at the Grand Concert, Saturday, January 3, 6:30-9 p.m. at the WITCC Convention Center in Cherokee. Tickets are $15.
She will also appear at the Brunch Buffet on Sunday, 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. at The Gathering Place. Tickets are $15.
Hunt released a popular fourth CD "Mercy" last May and is in demand on stages all over the world, combining her deeply soulful alto with her rootsy, fierce piano chops. "I had to go ahead and take all the boundaries off, take all the second-guessing off, and just say what I need to say, and be the artist that I'm here to be," she says.
In her music, she takes on social and political issues, and she has used her talents to help raise funds for hunger relief.
"Like a lot of people, I'm riled up now," said Hunt.
Her efforts have not gone unnoticed. "This Kansan is a full-blown phenomenon: A powerhouse singer, hardboogieing pianist, polished songwriter," the Minneapolis Star-Tribune said of Hunt.
Opening for Kelley at the Grand Concert will be the Erick Hovey Band - widely acclaimed for its unpretentious, high-energy original music rooted in traditional blues and swing styles. Hovey, who has appeared at the BVU Interim Jazz Series and the Storm Lake Half Marathon last season, describes himself as a guitarist, singer, songwriter, and farmer from Badger, Iowa. His very capable band mates are also from Northwest Iowa.
Leading into festival weekend will be the Northwest Iowa Musicians who will perform during the early shift pub crawl from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday night at the Copper Cup. Still perennial favorites at our festival, the Northwest Iowa Musicians are experienced jazz musicians with their own extraordinary biographies. They include Eddie Dunn (bass guitar & vocals), Ray Guntren (guitar), Joey Gulizia (drums), Stephen Smith (piano & saxophone), Pete Hittle (trumpet) and Dave Napier, (flute & saxophone).
New to our festival this year is the David Zollo Trio from Iowa City. David plays piano, sings, and writes his own songs which are a fusion of blues, jazz, and rock music. He has a special way of engaging with his audience and bringing them along with him as he sings and plays his stories.
David and his group will also host the Jam Session Saturday afternoon, noon-3 p.m. at The Gathering Place. At this event, area musicians will join in and anything can happen. Admission is $5
Something Underground, the power rock trio from Denver, Colorado returns to energize our pub crawl audiences on Friday and Saturday nights (admission $10). The trio pulls from rock, funk, blues, reggae, and folk music to make their own unique sound. Their fans in the Cherokee area are happy to welcome Seth and Josh Larson and Trevor Mariotti back "home" for another memorable festival weekend.
The Eric Klotz Trio will perform music that combines elements of jazz, rock, blues, and funk. The mixture of these genres by some of Chicago's most promising talent creates a special musical experience that is drawing attention to this newer group. Eric Klotz graduated from Washington High School, in Cherokee, in 1997 and currently works as a freelance guitarist and educator in Chicago.
The Tom Gary Blues Band from Storm Lake returns for its second appearance at the festival. During 2008 they published their first CD titled Yesterday and Today. The CD is a tribute to many of the great blues musicians Tom Gary has known. The Tom Gary Blues Band will again have audiences jumping and moving to the lively rhythm of traditional blues music.
A Music Clinic for area high school music students is being held on Friday, January 16 at Cherokee Middle School to wrap up the events. The Clinic will be conducted by the Jim Oatts Quintet from Des Moines and central Iowa.
The Cherokee Jazz and Blues Festival dates to the early 1990s, when RJ Baker, formerly of Olathe, Kansas, was hired as director of economic development for Cherokee County. One of the early projects suggested by Mr. Baker was a winter jazz festival to be held in January when nothing much is going on in the community. The first festival was held in 1992 and drew visitors from five states, and is now known as one of the top musical events for the genre in the Midwest.