Dave Tatrow and Friends open the Suncoast at poolside
Held at The Sheraton Sand Key Resort and Marriott Suites on Sand Key, in beautiful Clearwater Florida. Special Events: Your Father’s Mustache 2nd Final Reunion, Clarinet Clambake, Trobone Wing Ding, Joy of Sax, Heavyweight Salute to Trumpet Heavyweights, Festival Divas and Jam Sessions Afterglow Mixer.
by Jean Hadley
photos by Sharon and Ed Ohr
Videos by Eric Devine (CineDevine)
Here we go again! The start of Suncoast’s 24th year. Early Friday morning, gathered poolside, were fans with parasols, vintage ensembles, washboards and anything festive to kick off the beginning of a delightful and entertaining weekend.
Seated, at my poolside table, were Marty Kaletsky, to support her very talented husband Noel, Sharon and Ed Ohr photographers for this article and, Barbara Harvey (CT) a loyal supporter of OKOM.
Parasol Parade Photos by Sharon and Ed Ohr
The band was a wonderful mix of weekend musicians led by Dave Tatrow & Friends. Playing songs we well remembered, the fans joined in with voice and applause; nothing like audience participation to get the crowd in a festival mood.
Rather than write about each and every musician and selection played, I prefer to write about the fans, the type of music offered and the enthusiasm of both patrons and musicians.
The biographies, in the program, were right on target. The mix of music was a nice change and I commend those who made band selections. There was something for everyone.
As we all know, Dixieland music is still alive and well, however, our fan base is slowly dwindling. This is not because patrons lack interest in the music but rather age and poor health. We have many youngsters joining the ranks but, it will be several years before they develop the same confidence, enthusiasm and relaxation, on stage, as our seasoned musicians. To make this happen, we must continue to support these new kids on the block and spread the word.
On Friday morning, I stopped to hear the Tarpon Springs HS Jazz Ensemble . Wow! What a band! After hearing these youngsters, I knew I should hear the other HS bands. Each HS band (and their vocals) could not have been more professional. My hat goes off to the directors.
My next stop was to hear Jubilee Jazz Band. Jane Campadelli’s ingenious idea to put a band together and introduce it to the Suncoast Festival three years ago. With the likes of Noel Kaletsky, Bob Price, Scotty Philbrick, Gene Blood, Herb Roselle, Dan Howard, how could she miss. Jubilee played straight New Orleans style music. Jane’s vocal ability never changes and, she always manages to bring the audience to their feet. Thank you, Jane, for keeping OKOM alive and well!.
Janie and Jubilee packed them in
Barbary Coast, from Minnesota, known for their Dixieland worship services, gave their audience a very entertaining performance. Age diversified, they never skipped a beat. Their leader, Dick Petersen, played tribute to Louis Armstrong and brought the crowd to its feet by playing many Armstrong selections a lot of energy. By the way, Dick Petersen is a left handed banjo player.
The Barbara Coast Jazz Band
For a change of venue and some libation, I moved on to Condon’s Corner Bar to hear some “Cool Jazz” and meet friends. Condon’s Corner offers tasty cuisine and a fine selection of beverages. In addition, there is a variety of music all the time; a place to always find old and new friends.
Besides a good deal of chatter, we enjoyed hearing Bob Leary and ensemble followed by the Orion Trio. Orion was very cool, smooth and captivating. They gave a delivery of “Route 66” that brought the house down.
Moving on to another venue, I wanted to hear what all the excitement was about the St. Louis Stompers. This is a very high energy band bent on playing for the entertainment of their audience. Stompers, so professional and smooth, their sound was almost classical. A very strong band. Stompers played a diversified number of selections from Blues and Dixieland. I give them a gold star!
The St. Louis Stompers with Howard Miyata
Mike and Steve Lilley of the St, Louis Stompers
It is still Friday with a plethora of bands to hear. I have now moved on to hear an outstanding band (Dave Bennett &The Memphis Speed Kings) Dave being the leader (piano/vocals.) Wow! This kind of entertainment reminded me of Igor & Cowboys that so often played our Great CT Jazz Festival.
How great it was to hear authentic 1950’s Rockabilly and Rock & Roll. Dave not only pumped his piano but sat on it “rump” side down and up. His vocals deserve an A-plus. We all enjoyed another high energy band to keep us awake and our feet tapping.
By 10:00pm Friday, I knew the hour was late and this would be my last for the day (if I wanted to see Saturday’s dawn.) I chose to hear Red Garter Jazz Band. I was delighted I made this choice. Along with this super band, the vocals were strong and clear. Red Garter reminds one how much fun Trad Jazz can be/is. Red Garter is from nearby Clearwater, The Villages, FL. Don’t miss this band if you have the opportunity to hear them. Lots of fun!!!
Saturday morning arrived and, with it, many new people and many familiar faces. The excitement was just as electrifying as Friday morning when we were all getting into the weekend mood. My first stop was to hear another youth band (J.W Mitchell HS Jazz Band/Trinity, Fl.) Excellent! So professional, I thought I was hearing an old time big band. Their brass section was outstanding! Kudos to the director!
For anyone who follows The Midiri Brothers, it goes without saying. I love their swing style and their sense of humor. But, most of all, I adore their old standards from the days of Shaw, Goodman and Dorsey. The nostalgia, of their repertoire, reminded me of an era long gone but not forgotten. Tempus fugit!
The next show-stopper was Tom Rigney and Flambeau. I cannot tell you what “Flambeau” means. However, I can say this….what a show this guy delivers. He is more than flamboyant! He is electrifying! The stage was ablaze with his groove. Cajun, Zydeco, blues, boogie, waltzes and some almost classical pieces he authored. He is a virtuoso on the violin. His command of the instrument is mind boggling. This band is a must see.
Paul Scavarda of Wally’s Warehouse Waifs
The rest of the day, was spent listening to Wally’s Warehouse Waifs, Cornet Chop Suey and High Sierra. Anyone who has heard these bands knows they are show bands with high energy and aim to please their public each and every performance.
High Sierra plays mainly a West Coast style of traditional jazz.
High Sierra Jazz Band
Cornet Chop Suey and Wally’s Warehouse Waifs play styles from traditional jazz, swing and blues. These bands are winners in every way. They deliver a quality of music that is hard to duplicate.
Cornet Chop Suey
I finally called it a day and made my last appearance at Condon’s Corner to hear Theo Valentin, another great vocalist. Theo captured the audience with her blues and ballads. She is a very exciting personality and one I would like to hear again and again.
When Sunday’s sun rose to greet me, I knew it was time to pack, take my breakfast and listen to a few of my favorite bands that were still on the schedule. At four o’clock, those who were still on board enjoyed the finale.
I could not and did not take in every band. The festival was sprinkled with so much music it was impossible to hear each one.
What I will tell you, though, Suncoast should be proud of what they did this year…..
a smashing success!!! The best ever!
The festival could not have come to fruition had it not been for Joan Dragon (Director,) volunteers, sponsors, a wonderful hotel staff and the many behind the scenes people. Extra kudos to all the volunteers and hotel staff for their politeness and help; going the extra mile, with a smile, made one want to come back again and again.
HAPPY 25th — 2015
Bill Allred Classic Jazz, Bob Draga and Friends, Hamilton Harris Project with Marilyn Freemon, Lori Hafer Trio and Mike Hafer with John Lamb, Nate Najar, Pepper, Valerie Gillespie Quintet
Hopkins and Miller’s Sunset Stomp:
Hopkins and Miller’s Sunset Stomp