And yet, the music just keeps getting more and more interesting. We had TEN continuous hours of music, so here’s just a little bit about everybody!
Saturday morning at the Texas Community Music Festival started off with the return of traditional jazz band, The Skylarks! This eight-piece combo played some Dixieland, swing, and big-band jazz to get the weekend moving and dancing. Or at least the had a BIG band sound while pared down to the essentials: bass, drums, keys, saxes (alto and tenor), fiddle, trombone, and a trumpet.
Next up were the Trilogy Clarinets — actually a quartet made up of 3 clarinets, and a bass clarinet. They played old-timey jazz and polkas reminiscent of an old WWII-era newsreel or black and white cartoon soundtrack. A nice way to ease into the afternoon!
Lake Bottom Jazz Band saw the return of a few members of the Skylarks. But a partial change in personnel to include just keyboards, banjo, a fantastic sax soloist who ALSO sings beautifully, one of the greatest fiddlers in Texas, and lots of vocal features!
The ended their set with the theme song “Those Were the Days” from 70s hit show All in the Neighborhood. (I joked that I wished we were scheduled together, as I ended one of MY sets on Friday night with “Movin’ On Up,” the theme from spin-off show The Jeffersons! We coulda had a theme going!) Make sure to listen to the fiddle feature linked on my YouTube page below.
Lone Star Swing Syndicate came out next to perform our first of many weekend sets of *real* big big-band jazz. They brought out two featured vocalists, Barbara and Samantha, who sang some of my very favorites: Etta James’ “At Last,” and Patsy Cline’s “Crazy.” The breeze kept the patio cool and comfortable, even if it did try to steal some sheet music on a couple of occasions. 🙂
ACC Stage Ensemble was next, another big-band setup made up of student musicians and some of the faculty of Austin Community College.
The group lasts for a semester, or two, or a few, and then musicians graduate out, and new ones fill in! Guest vocalists presented jazz-inspired versions of popular show-tunes, and the set included a not-often-featured instruments: congas and flute!
Rhythm Congress returned for their *ninth* TCMF. They’ve performed every year from 2006, including 2013’s bonus fall festival!
We were treated to rhythm, blues, and soul classics with a full complement of horn players, from Wilson Pickett to Van Morrison to Bob Marley. Perennial favorite “Mustang Sally” got dancers young and old out onto the dance floor!
Saturday night closed with one of the most unique performances I’ve seen, Oliver Rajamani. He played a nearly 2 hour set, fusing different styles and influences into a style that defies simple explanation: Roma (Gypsy) blended with traditional Indian music, Texas blues, country, and western classical music.
It was exciting to try to identify all of the instruments on stage — in addition to electric bass, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, and a fiddle, we saw a sitar, djembe, kit drum, pedal steel guitar, and a lute. Oliver’s latest album, Texas Gypsy Fire, features performances by Willie Nelson, Eric Johnson, Cindy Cashdollar, Dale Watson, Edie Brickell, and more!
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