Music News & Reviews

Jazz days in Pismo

When you hear the bouncy beat of a tuba, the singsong flutter of a clarinet or the high-pitched jangle of a banjo, you’ll know the Jubilee by the Sea has begun.

The three-day event, which has been a fixture in Pismo Beach since 1976, channels the spirits of bygone traditional jazz greats such as Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller and, of course, Louis Armstrong.

This year, 20 ragtime and Dixieland bands from around the country will perform more than 100 sets at various venues, beginning Oct. 29. The event will include both local acts and popular touring groups.

“These are some of the most sought-after bands in the nation,” said festival director George Smith.

The event is expected to attract around 2,000 people, many who will arrive early to camp.

“We get a lot of RVers,” said Smith, who will perform in the band Clam Chowder.

While the event promises to feature great jazz music, we’ve found that it also spotlights some interesting people. With that in mind, here are the top 10 factoids about the musicians appearing at the Jubilee:

10. Apt Pupils: Sherri Colby, a singer with the Blue Street Jazz Band, is working on a doctorate in cultural anthropology from the University of Virginia. Pieter Meijers, trombonist for the High Sierra Band, earned a doctorate in nuclear chemistry and physics in 1968.

9. Happy Blues: Local musician Valerie Johnson, who is appearing with the Creole Syncopators, has given workshops at juvenile halls, teaching the use of songwriting skills as a positive method of communication and a way to reduce emotional stress.

8. Pretty in Pink: Bob Ringwald, piano player and singer for the Fulton Street Jazz Band, is the father of actress Molly Ringwald. In 1998, he appeared in the TV movie “Twice Upon a Time” with his daughter, portraying a lounge pianist. His daughter—who sang with the band when she was 6 — now fronts her own jazz group, The Molly Ringwald Quintet.

7. Old School: Chet Jaeger, of the Night Blooming Jazzmen, has been playing music longer than most Jubilee musicians have been alive — and in many cases, longer than their parents have been alive. He started playing cornet in 1937 and formed his first band in 1941. He met his wife-to-be while playing in the USO.

6. School of Music:

Three members of the Blue Street Jazz Band are teachers — two band directors and one elementary school music teacher.

5. Tooting His Own Horn(s): Jim Richardson, of the Night Blooming Jazzmen, can actually play two saxophones at the same time. He is a past “Gong Show” winner.

4. Jazz Jazz: Joe and Paul Midiri, of the Midiri Brothers, are identical twins. Joe plays clarinet and sax; Paul plays vibraphone, xylophone, marimba, drums and trombone.

3. Where’s Wally? The band Wally’s Warehouse Waifs doesn’t actually have any members named Wally.

2. Spaced Out: Leslie Deutsch, a multi-instrumentalist with the Night Blooming Jazzmen, is a mathematician and manager for Caltech and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which explores the solar system and is responsible for the Mars rovers. Deutsch, who designs his own organs, holds more than 25 patents, mostly in electronic music.

1. No Free Bird?

Inspired by Pat Boone, Cal Poly’s jazz bands (includes Cal Poly Big Jazz Band) once performed a set of hard rock and metal tunes, including “Paradise City” by Guns N’ Roses, “Enter Sandman” by Metallica,” “Smoke on the Water” by Deep Purple and “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin.

Reach Patrick S. Pemberton at 781-7903.