I am a failure as a well-trained tourist, because I shun guidebook attractions such as churches and museums in favor of second-hand stores, outdoor markets, and restaurants. But I am not yet at the stage where I want to stay at home all the time. What makes me happy is going to a place (ideally, a beautiful one) where good friends play and sing the music that makes me even more glad to be alive. And I know I am not alone in this desire.
Double rainbow, Evergreen, Colorado, 2014. Photograph by Michael Steinman
Such opportunities for musical joy and fulfillment still exist, and one of them is the double boon of the Evergreen Jazz Festival in Colorado, and the barn dance concert that Dorothy Bradford Vernon and friends put on in Longmont, in the same state — they coincide most happily.
For those who want to go directly to the source(s), here you can learn all about the barn dance — featuring the Carl Sonny Leyland Trio — and here is the official site for the Evergreen Jazz Festival, a long weekend of beautiful music.
The EJF rotates its out-of-state attractions, so although I have twenty posts (with video evidence!) from my trips there in 2014 and 2016, I don’t feel it’s right to use videos from bands that won’t be there in 2018 to promote the current festival. However, by typing EVERGREEN into this blog’s search engine, you can enjoy the evidence for many hours. More about the 2018 band lineup below.
But since Carl’s Trio is more or less intact with the splendid Jeff Hamilton on drums (I believe Marty Eggers is playing string bass instead of our friend Clint Baker) I have no qualms about sharing this 2016 post with you. My videos cannot convey the great warm welcome that Dorothy and friends extend to anyone walking through the barn doors. The music and the dancers were truly memorable.
The Evergreen Jazz Festival offers ten bands, which means that the main problem most guests will have can be expressed by “I can’t decide between seeing X, Y , or Z,” rather than by “There’s nothing to do.”
Here is the schedule: eleven hours on Friday, twelve hours on Saturday, seven hours on Sunday. You can sleep on Monday, or on the plane.
A few words about the bands (you can read full descriptions on the EJF site). Since I am an out-of-towner, I have no problem putting my fellow o-o-t women and men first — a kind of upside-down local pride.
Carl Sonny Leyland will be rocking the house once again (even the elk were doing splendid rhythmic gyrations in the parking lot).
The Holland-Coots Jazz Quintet — a band I succumbed to instantly last year in Nashville, where they recorded their debut CD, a tribute to Fats Waller that brought happiness and swing. They are Brian Holland, piano; Danny Coots, drums; Marc Caparone, cornet and vocal; Evan Arntzen, reeds and vocal; Steve Pikal, string bass.
World-travelers Ivory&Gold — that’s Jeff Barnhart, piano and vocals; Anne Barnhart, flute and vocals — who offer musical world tours that always surprise.
The frolicsome Rock Island Roustabouts — co-led by Hal Smith, drums, and Jeff Barnhart, with Dave Kosmyna, cornet; Doug Finke, trombone; Jonathan Doyle, reeds; Bob Leary, banjo/guitar; Ryan Gould, string bass. The names alone will tell you that hot music is assured.
Multi-instrumentalist Dennis Lichtman’s Brain Cloud (yes, the name is strange — from a Bob Wills song — but the music is intoxicating) featuring Dennis on clarinet, fiddle, mandolin, and more, also with the phenomenal vocalist Tamar Korn and our man in swing Kevin Dorn, drums.
Pianists Brian Holland, Carl Sonny Leyland, and Jeff Barnhart will perform three trio sets on two pianos in the wonderful Evergreen church: beware of flying black and white ivories!
There will be a jam session set by the “EJF All-Stars”: Marc Caparone, cornet; Eric Staffeldt, trombone; Roger Campbell, clarinet; Rory Thomas, banjo; Jeff Barnhart, piano; Ryan Gould, string bass; Kevin Dorn, drums.
Two sets by the Sweet and Hot Quartet: Jeff Barnhart, Bob Leary, Anne Barnhart, and Steve Pikal (Friday) and Hal Smith (Sunday).
If that were not enough . . . Denver’s own After Midnight, which fashions itself after the Goodman Sextet with vibraphone; Felonius Smith Trio, which pays tribute to venerable guitar blues; the Gypsy Swing Revue, which lives up to its billing; Joe Smith and the Spicy Pickles, a young energized swing band; the Queen City Jazz Band, celebrating its 65th anniversary and featuring Wende Harston on vocals; youth bands from the University of Colorado, the Denver Claim Jumpers, and the Denver Jazz Club Youth All-Stars.
The EJF features lovely small venues . . . so you need to consider purchasing tickets sooner rather than later. I’ll be there, but I only take up one seat. Hope you can make it also! It’s been a great deal of fun and with this schedule, I know it’s going to continue.
And just in case you say, “What! No music?” here is RUSSIAN RAG by the Holland-Coots Jazz Quintet, recorded informally in Nashville in July 2017:
May your happiness increase!