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In the News - Friday, APRIL 13, 2007


By Hook and the grace of Aphrodite

   The anticipation, the building of the venues, the decorations, the arrival of the first RV, the musicians, the families, the old fans, new friends, and suddenly it’s upon us all, and at the most picturesque time of year: another incomparable Jazzaffair. Incomparable because simple and understated, Three Rivers is the home of the finest small-venue jazz festival on the planet.
   When seemingly everything is consolidated, legislated, federated, or outdated, Jazzaffair plays on and, surprisingly, the more it changes, the more it remains the same. For better or for worse, its three venues — Lions Arena, the Memorial Building and its Tent — are very much subject to weather yet still more than adequate places to perform. But ask any musician or band who’s played here since its inception in the 1970s, the song remains the same.

  “We love coming here playing in Three Rivers,” said one member of the Titan Hot Jazz Band. “The setting is beautiful, it’s a chance to see old friends and play with High Sierra, the fans are great… and it’s mostly about having a good time playing our music.”
   Call it what you will, Jazzaffair is one great movable party, but even more, it’s about the music. Look up and down the lineup from the veteran Night Blooming Jazzmen to the youthful Mighty Aphrodite Jazz Band to Jazzaffair’s renowned High Sierra hosts, all play homage to New Orleans, its unique cultural heritage and, especially, the fact that it is the birthplace of jazz music.
   There’s been a lot of publicity recently about this extraordinary place and its music, especially in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Wynton Marsalis, born and raised in a musical New Orleans family, has become the face and spokesperson for the recovery effort as it relates to the preservation of jazz music and the musicians themselves, many who were dislocated during the disastrous hurricane summer of 2005.
   Marsalis, 45, whose latest CD “From the Plantation to the Penitentiary” has been called a preachy, political perspective on why African American youth are alienated from jazz music and now in “mental bondage,” has created a separate label with the proceeds from the sale of that music going to help Katrina’s victims. Harry Connick Jr., another native son of New Orleans, has a 2007 release “chanson du vieux carré,” a prime example of big band jazz on the Marsalis music label.
   During a recent interview on public radio, Marsalis explained what it was about jazz music that is timeless and will never change.

  “I remember when I was very young and I wanted to play only the really hip and up-tempo tunes,” Wynton recalled. “My father took me to listen to some of the older New Orleans musicians playing the traditional jazz marches and the spirituals that everybody was playing in those days. He asked me what I thought of that music and did I hear each instrument?”
   Marsalis explained what his father had pointed out about jazz music was the solo that each instrument played and how the ensemble created a distinct sound when the musicians played together. That’s when the young horn-playing Wynton realized he was hearing his own jazz calling.
   That solo playing that the jazz musicians refer to as improvisation is the essence of Jazzaffair. Throughout the course of the weekend, there is ample opportunity to hear the music of the greats like Louis Armstrong, Buddy Bolden, Fats Waller, Sidney Bechet, Hoagy Carmichael, Eddie Condon, Turk Murphy, Scott Joplin, Duke Ellington, Bix Beiderbecke, and others too numerous to mention here. Each of the groups at Jazzaffair are composed of accomplished musicians, many who rank among the top jazz players in their fields.
   Nearly everyone who plays jazz music studies and collects jazz and is well versed in the culture of the art form. Tom Hook, a resident New Orleans musician, and veteran performer on the Mississippi River steamboats, is adept at playing several instruments and as well as other musical styles ranging from Dr. John’s blues and Mardi Gras music to Fats Domino’s vintage rock and stroll to the Neville Brothers’ funk.
   Hook’s last appearance at Jazzaffair (2004) was with his Les Chiens Noir — a fancy-sounding French way to say Black Dogs — a jazz ensemble that he has been performing with in one form or another since it was founded in 1988. That 2004 group was fronted by Sacramento vocalist Brady McKay.
   Hook is really at his best when he is free to roam and play in solo or duo formats. When he is sparring at the piano with the likes of Jeff Barnhart of Titan Hot Seven, what transpires can be sheer bedlam and unforgettable jazz high jinx.
   Among the 2007 bands are the Mighty Aphrodite Jazz Band, an all-female outfit from the Pacific Northwest, who are playing their first Jazzaffair. From all reports, these gals really cook and can spice up any room with their magnanimous personality and virtuosity in the traditional jazz realm.
   Young and old, new and blue, come see and experience what they do. Let the good times roll because that’s Jazzaffair!

Jazz days full of sun, clouds

   Last year, the weather was picture perfect with only a brief shower on the finale. After four of the last six years being full-on adventures in Kaweah Country extreme climatology, this weekend will be mostly sunny and pleasant. Thursday’s spotty showers and cooler air aloft brought lots of clouds but very little of the wet stuff that all of California could really use.
   Like much of the state, Three Rivers and the entire San Joaquin Valley is checking in with April precipitation totals right at 50 percent. That translates to only 10 inches of rainfall for the entire season at the 1,000-foot elevation level in Three Rivers.
   Bruce Huddleston, High Sierra’s renowned piano man, who lives up canyon at couple of hundred feet above that 1,000-foot benchmark, reported earlier this week that he has tallied 15 inches to date for the current season. That discrepancy indicates that the few showers we have had have been spotty and all the area’s rain gauges are quite a bit below the 20 inches that they should have by this time of the season.
   On Thursday, daytime temperatures in Three Rivers reached only into the low 60s. The highest California reading for the day was 94 degrees in the Imperial Valley; the lowest temperature recoded was nine degrees at Bodie State Park on the Sierra’s east side.
   There is a slight chance of precipitation for the foothill region around Three Rivers on Saturday. For the rest of the Jazz weekend, and on into to the work week, the high temps will reach into the 70s with good air quality. Nighttime performances, especially outside at Lions Arena, will require a sweater or light jacket for optimal listening enjoyment.

BLM ends fees

for North Fork sites

   There are some big changes in the works for the new season at the North Fork recreation sites being managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). According to Diane Simpson, a recreation planner from the BLM’s Bakersfield regional office, parking/use fees for the three area sites — Cherry Falls, Advance, and Paradise — are new longer being collected. The demonstration-fee collection that began in April 2004 was part of an agency effort to reduce visitor use in the hope that gang members from the Valley would take their activity elsewhere.
   For three consecutive seasons, recurring problems like arson fires, vandalism, litter, and alcohol consumption declined as BLM rangers wrote numerous citations for illegal parking, and various substance abuses. Now, Simpson said, rangers will only patrol the sites on occasion.

  “We’ll have some recreation staff onsite most weekends but law enforcement rangers will only be present during peak holiday weekends,” Simpson said. “The fee collection station has already been removed.”
   The new 2007-08 budget directs that the resources be used elsewhere. That leaves the majority of the responsibility for law enforcement in the current season up to the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department already stretched thin in the foothills, especially on weekends when there are the most visitors.
   Three Rivers and foothills residents who might be impacted will have two opportunities to furnish public comment relative to the policy changes at the North Fork sites. The first will be Saturday, April 21, when the BLM Central California Advisory Committee concludes its regular meeting at the U.C. Experiment Station at Lindcove with a public comment period. That portion of the meeting is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m.
   The agenda of the two-day meetings, that actually begin Friday, April 20, and includes a presentation by the Bakersfield region and remarks of the state director, is available through the BLM website or by calling Mary Gorden, an advisory council member from Lemon Cove, at 597-2373.

   “The meetings are open to the public on both days and I would encourage all who are concerned about the North Fork sites to attend,” Mary said.
   A new property survey has revealed that all or part of the popular Paradise Recreation Area is actually located on private property. Simpson said that site will probably be closed and fenced off.
   In addition to the Lindcove sessions, BLM planners have also scheduled a second meeting in Three Rivers at the Memorial Building on Thursday, April 26, at 6 p.m., to discuss the policy changes. For more information on the Three Rivers meeting, contact Patty Gradek or Steve Larson at (661) 391-6000.


Grab some food, catch a ride

Dinner and more...
   Each year at the Memorial Building venue of Jazzaffair, the parents and students of the seventh-grade class at Three Rivers School man the kitchen and prepare the meals for jazz patrons.
   This weekend, the TRUS Class of 2008 is in charge of the menu. Plate lunches will include hamburgers, hot dogs, soup, and salad with prices ranging from $4 to $6. A la carte items will also be available.
   Friday night’s dinner is: Chicken cacciatore, bread, salad, biscotti, and choice of beverage. Donation: $8.
   Saturday night’s dinner is: Chicken shish kebab, seasonal vegetable, rice, roll, salad, cake, and choice of beverage. Donation: $8.
   Vegetarian entrees will be available both nights.
   All proceeds from the meals go to the class’s eighth-grade trip fund. The students will visit San Francisco in May 2008.
Shuttle service...
   To ease traffic congestion and parking constraints at performance sites, complimentary transportation will be provided to all Jazzaffair badge-holders.
   Two shuttles will run continuously in Three Rivers throughout the weekend from one hour before each day’s opening performance until one hour after the last set. Shuttle stops will be serviced every half hour.
   Community members and visitors may ride the shuttle for 25 cents.
   The shuttles, operated by Sequoia Sightseeing Tours, will have two routes.

  “Route A” will operate between the Memorial Building and Lions Arena and include business stops at Sequoia Gifts and Souvenirs/Sierra Subs and Salads, Reimer’s Candies and Gifts, and the Gateway Restaurant and Lodge.

  “Route B” will operate on the south end of town between the Lions Arena and Comfort Inn and Suites. Other stops include the Century 21 complex, Three Rivers Mercantile, Anne Lang’s Emporium, and Three Rivers Bed and Breakfast.

History of the Redbud Festival

3R Golf Course was the first venue

Contributed by Shirley Blair Keller

   In a month, the Redbud Festival will return to the Lions Arena in Three Rivers, hosted by the Arts Alliance of Three Rivers. The popular event is scheduled for the weekend of May 12 and 13 (Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.).
   Cleo White and Vivian LaMar, both of whom still reside in Three Rivers, were instrumental in the first arts and crafts fair held in April 1972. It was Cleo’s son Dennis White’s idea to hold the festival outside of the Ard Farkle’s Restaurant that was located at the Three Rivers Golf Course, which the Whites owned.
   Dennis thought it would be great for business, and there were many artists living in Three Rivers who would appreciate this public venue to sell art.
   The rules were simple. No charge to the artists, but they must be from Three Rivers. No food booths because there was a restaurant.
Vivian thinks there may have been 30 to 50 booths. Cleo recalls less. But there were enough to fill the space and create a wonderful party atmosphere.
   Announcements were run on radio stations to entice Valley residents to attend. Cleo remembers a bus arriving and a line of senior citizens unloading from Visalia, first browsing at the booths and then filling up the restaurant.
   Ard Farkle’s hosted the Redbud Festival for about five years until the property was sold.
   Why did Vivian and Cleo work so hard to see arts and crafts promoted in Three Rivers?
   Before coming to Three Rivers, Vivian was a teacher of arts and crafts in Long Beach, an assistant manager of a hobby show, and would provide decorating for events. There isn’t a craft she hasn’t tried. A beautiful mosaic coffee table sits in her living room, just one of her creations.
   Gardening was Cleo’s main passion, but she tried everything in handwork and especially enjoys crochet.

  “It gives me great satisfaction to see the growth of the Redbud Festival over the years,” said Cleo.
   Watching the Redbud Festival happen year after year amazes her. The organization that the Arts Alliance of Three Rivers provides is a far cry from how it was done in the beginning, she said.
   These days, people come from all over the Valley to participate as sellers and customers.

  “Once we decided to take the Redbud Festival on the road,” Vivian recalled.
   They set up booths in one of the malls. It didn’t work out to be as successful as they had hoped. The merchants were not thrilled to have them, so they decided to stick close to home after that.
   During this year’s event, be sure to stop by the Arts Alliance booth to enter the Pick-a-Gift Raffle and the Silent Auction. The nonprofit group is raising money for the Lorraine Young scholarship fund, which will provide a scholarship to a high school senior pursuing an education in the arts.


Susan Davis
1927 ~ 2007

   Susan J. Purdy Davis of Woodlake died Thursday, April 5, 2007. She was 79.
   Susan was born Dec. 12, 1927, in Stockton to Earl Purdy and Gladys M. (Thompson) Purdy. She was raised in Kaweah by her grandmother, Ida Purdy, a longtime resident and postmistress of Kaweah Post Office.
   Susan’s husband, Joseph L. Davis, was employed by the National Park Service, so for most of her married life she resided in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. The couple also resided in Zion and Lassen Volcanic national parks.
   Susan was preceded in death by her husband of 45 years, Joe.
   She is survived by her children, Beverley Scott of Woodlake, Earl Davis of Sanger, and Barbara Coelho of Exeter; four brothers; one sister; six grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.
   Services will be private.


   The following are California residents killed in Iraq as announced by the governor’s office this week:
   U.S. Army Specialist Curtis R. Spivey, 25, of Chula Vista, died Monday, April 2, 2007, in San Diego as a result of injuries sustained Sept. 16, 2006, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle during combat operations in Baghdad, Iraq.
   U.S. Army Private First Class Gabriel J. Figueroa, 20, of Baldwin Park died Tuesday, April 3, as a result of injuries sustained when his unit came in contact with enemy forces using small-arms fire in Baghdad, Iraq.
   U.S. Army Specialist James J. Coon, 22, of Walnut Creek died Wednesday, April 4, as a result of injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle in Balad, Iraq.
   U.S. Army Private First Class Walter Freeman Jr., 20, of Lancaster died Wednesday, April 4, as a result of injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle during combat operations in Baghdad, Iraq.

—Total U.S. deaths—
Iraq area: 3,260
(as of Friday, April 6)
Afghanistan area: 312
(as of Saturday, March 31)

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