Jazz festival in Pismo is inspirational

nightengayles@aol.comOctober 23, 2012 

The Red Skunk Band includes, from left, Justin Au on trumpet, Tyler Miller on drums, Pamela Sheffler on violin, Molly Reeves on guitar and vocals, Samuel Boorman on guitar and Jamie Mather on bass.

COURTESY PHOTO

‘Jazz is nourishment for the soul.”

    These are the words of K.O. Eckland, instrumental in starting the Basin Street Regulars jazz club and the Jubilee by the Sea jazz festival, which premiered in 1976 in Pismo Beach.

Although Eckland passed away in 2009, his legacy lives on.

Jubilee by the Sea, which takes place this weekend, features New Orleans-style traditional jazz, also known as Dixieland. Swing and zydeco are also included in the program.

“This is a premier California festival because we have just an excellent line-up of bands,” George Smith of Arroyo Grande said.

Smith is the festival chairman of the Jubilee committee; this is his 10th year producing the festival.

He is also one of 500 members of the Basin Street Regulars, which puts on the festival, preserves and promotes traditional jazz and provides scholarships for young people to jazz camps.

Smith and his wife, Richelle Cross, are both musicians; he plays the piano and trumpet, and she plays piano and vocals.

Pat Spino and Richard Azevedo of Pismo Beach are in charge of the Boosters on the Jubilee committee. They do the ads and “beg” for money; they have taken in almost $9,000 this year for the festival.

Azevedo and Spino met in 1999 at a dance at the Jubilee Festival.

“We love the music and used to dance all the time,” Spino said. They soon became involved with the Basin Street Regulars. 

The Basin Street Regulars sponsor up to 10 music scholarships for young adults at two traditional jazz music camps in the Sierra. Each scholarship pays for tuition, room, board and instruction for one week in the summer.

Molly Reeves of the Red Skunk Band benefitted from the scholarships for several summers. She played guitar in her school band and a rock band, and said she was “a little skeptical” about the
Dixieland camp.

But the instructors were “amazing musicians,” the 21-year-old raved. “I had so much fun.”
She especially loved the gypsy swing sound.

“I wanted my own band with the style of music I was falling in love with,” said Reeves, who soon put together the Red Skunk Band.

Reeves encouraged her bandmates to join the Basin Street Regulars so they could qualify for the scholarships. Most of them attended the camps.

Reeves, who also plays banjo and trombone, will leave soon for New Orleans on a “jazz pilgrimage” to “see if I can break into the scene,” she said. However, her band will continue to play around California and on the Central Coast. You can follow Reeves at www.redskunkband.com and www.mollyreevesmusic.com.

The Red Skunk Band is one of 20 bands playing Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Jubilee by the Sea.

Other bands include the Creole Syncopators with Valerie Johnson, Midiri Brothers, Titan Hot Seven and Tom Rigney & Flambeau.

There are also two special events Thursday, featuring The Au Brothers Band and We Three.

There will be six venues, the main one being the Pismo Beach Veterans’ Memorial Hall on Bello Street.

For more information, call 773-3750 or visit www.pismojazz.com.

Gayle Cuddy’s column is special to The Tribune. She and Cynthia Lambert write the South County Beat columnon alternating Wednesdays. Reach Cuddy at 489-1026 or nightengayles@aol.com.

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