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Sun Valley Jazz Fest to Feature Beach Boys, Beatles Infused with Jazz
Tuesday, October 16, 2018


David Sydney Scott looks forward to the Sun Valley Jazz and Music Festival every year for a multitude of reasons.

“It’s beautiful in Sun Valley, it’s got great people and great music and lots of it,” said the Australian-born David Sydney Scott, saxophone player for Gator Nation. “And I do all my shopping at the Gold Mine thrift store. I got the shirt I’m wearing at the Gold Mine, I got my suitcase there…”

Scott’s Gator Nation will take its place among 40 bands playing multiple sets over six days, beginning with a Roaring 20s Black & White Party at 6:30 tonight at Sun Valley’s Limelight Room.

“We’ve always had a Mardis Gras theme to kick things off before. But this year we’re asking people to dress in black and white and roaring ‘20s style. And we’ll have prizes for best costume,” said Festival Co-Director Carol Loehr.

The 29th annual festival, which will run through Sunday, Oct. 21, will feature plenty of audience favorites, including Tom Rigney & Flambeau, the Bruce Innes Trio, the Caroline Martin Swing Band, the High Street Party Band, the Yale Whiffenpoofs a cappella chorus and trumpet player Bob Draga.

New groups include The Black Market Trust composed of five young men from Los Angeles who perform their own take on such songs as the Beach Boys’ “God Only Knows,” Cole Porter’s “Just One of Those Things” and the always popular “Route 66,” which scored a Top 10 hit on the Adult Contemporary charts.

Their music is influenced by the Django Reinhardt-inspired gypsy sound of acoustic instruments, as well as Jamaican Rocksteady.

 “They take modern songs like The Beatles and play them in Gypsy jazz style,” said Carol Loehr, co-director of the festival. “They’re young and handsome and gregarious, and I think people are going to love them.”

The French-based Paris Washboard recently merged with the Super Swing Project. The group boasts trombone, clarinet, stride piano, washboard and the trumpeter renderings of Jerome Etcheberry in its traditional Dixieland jazz and New Orleans-style music.

Joe Smith & the Spicy Pickles, a seven-member swing band from Denver, is back after several years. Led by trumpet player Joe Smith, the Pickles are dedicated to spreading around a love of vintage jazz and swing to younger generations.

They fuse musical influences from the sounds of Count Basie, Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw with the showmanship of Louis Armstrong. And audiences can expect gimmicks, tricks, horn movements and hat work, as well as vocal performances by Joe Smith and Cara Griffith.

And Two Tone Steiny and the Cadillacs is a high energy West Coast blues band that infuses the stage with jumping, swinging dance music.

“This is a stretch for us,” said Loehr. “But we’re excited about them and dancers are excited about them. They’re going to rock the house.”

There will be a number of free sets, including Wednesday night’s 6:30 p.m. performance by Yve Evans and Patty Parsons’ Sun Valley Hallelujah Chorus at the Sun Valley Opera House. They will sing such numbers as “Bridge Over Trouble Waters,” “Stand By Me” and “Lean on Me.”

 “The Jazz Festival is more fun than it is work,” said Hailey resident Sherry Thorson, who sings with the Hallelujah Chorus. “Yves Evans is so wonderful to sing with. It absolutely boosts my spirit.”

The festival, founded by Boise jazz lover Tom Hazzard, has endured to become as one of the largest festivals in the nation, thanks to jazz lovers who sponsor 250 musicians, good fiscal management and the recent inclusion of a variety of music such as Cajun , Zydeco, folk and country western.

 “It’s hard to say exactly how many people we—we don’t count a person five times if they have a five-day pass, like some festivals do,” said Loehr.  “But the Sacramento Music Festival closed this year due to poor fiscal management. That moved us into the top spot as far as the length and size of the festival--just behind the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, which is the granddaddy of them all.”

Sun Valley Jazz Festival organizers will announce an Ambassador of Fun incentive tonight designed to keep people coming. Anyone bringing four new people to the festival will get their festival badge free.

The Festival is also sending Gator Nation to Wood River High School and Hemingway and Alturas elementary schools in hopes of turning youngsters onto the R&B, Cajun and zydeco music they may never have heard.

The group integrates the kids into the music by getting them to join in call-and-response number, said Scott.

“Right now jazz music is more popular in Europe, Japan, New Zealand and Australia than in the United States,” said Loehr. “But its popularity is always changing and morphing. And we’re still going strong.”

Here’s a look at some of the highlights of the 2018 Sun Valley Jazz and Music Festival:


  • There will be three free Jazz in the Square performances sponsored by Atkinsons’ Market from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. at Ketchum Town Square. The Black Market Trust will perform on Wednesday. Two Tone Steiny & The Cadillacs will perform Thursday. And Boise’s High Street Party Band will perform on Friday.
  • Piano and gospel jazz singer Yve Evans and Patty Parsons’ Sun Valley Hallelujah Chorus will perform a free hour of swinging music at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Sun Valley Opera House.
  • Northwest Nazarene University Jazz Renaissance will perform at 9:30 p.m. Thursday in the Continental Room and 8 p.m. Friday at the Sun Valley Opera House in shows that are open to the public.
  • The 14-voice Yale Whiffenpoofs will perform at 1:30 p.m. Thursday at the Sun Valley Inn Duck Pond, 3:30 p.m. Friday at Carol’s Dollar Mountain Lodge, 11 a.m. Saturday at Satchmo’s (Sun Valley’s Boiler Room) and 3 p.m. Saturday at the Duck Pond outside the Sun Valley Inn.


Dance lessons teaching the balboa, lindy hop, line dance, swing and fox trot are included in the price of a badge and will be offered from 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. each day at the River Run Lodge beginning on Thursday.

The always lively dance competitions will be held at 8 p.m. Friday at River Run Lodge and at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at the Sun Valley Opera House.


Special events include a Tribute to Patsy Cline at 11 a.m. Friday, a Zydeco Hurricane party featuring Tom Rigney & Flambeau and Gator Nation at 10 p.m. Friday, a Glenn Miller set performed by the Kings of Swing at 8 p.m. Saturday in the Sun Valley Inn Limelight Room and High Street Party Band’s Dance through the Decades at 10 p.m. Saturday in the Limelight Room.

Loehr is particularly excited about the Best of Benny Goodman’s 1938 Carnegie Hall Show Big Band Bash at 8 p.m. Friday in the Limelight Room.

“Benny Goodman was the first jazz musician to play Carnegie Hall—before, it had been relegated to symphonic music. Our musicians will play the same show that Benny Goodman played then, and I think it will be a lot of fun to revisit that,” she said.

Additionally, Tom Rigney of Flambeau will tell his story, including that of growing up with a pro baseball player for a father, at 9:30 a.m. Friday at the Sun Valley Opera House.

“He’s been writing it for a couple years and I guess it’s quite a colorful story,” said Loehr.


Get your gospel fix on Sunday with three straight sets from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Limelight Room. Or head to the Presbyterian Church of the Big Wood for a free performance featuring the Midiri Brothers Sextet at 11 a.m. Sunday.

The Sun Valley Hallelujah Chorus will also include gospel in its 6:30 p.m. set Wednesday at the Sun Valley Opera House.


Passes good for an entire day’s worth of music start at $44. Evening passes from 5 p.m. until closing start at $29.

Week-long passes are $27 for high school students and $62 for college students. Adult passes good for the entire festival are $182. Children under 13 will be admitted free when accompanied by an adult pass holder.

For more information, visit

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