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In the News -
Friday, APRIL 8, 2005
To the delight of hundreds of fans, volunteers, Lions Club
members, and local business owners, it’s Jazzaffair time. The 32nd
edition, as always since 1976 when the Sierra Traditional Jazz Club decided
that early April should be the season and the preservation of Dixieland
(or traditional) jazz be the reason, Jazzaffair signals the start of the
annual tourist onslaught in Three Rivers.
It’s not that visitors come in overwhelming numbers
to experience the verdant shades or see the colorful wildflower display,
but in April they do come in increasing numbers to take part in one or
more of the of the annual rituals of a Kaweah Country springtime. Sue
Mills, who following this weekend will step aside again as Jazzaffair
director after more than two decades at its helm, likes to tell newcomers
to Jazzaffair that initially the enjoyment of the festival and this quaint
little village is subject to the whims of Mother Nature.
in the last few weeks we’ve experienced three seasons — winter,
spring, and summer — and we could have all three during any given
Jazzaffair,” Sue said. “It usually rains some during jazz
weekend but it’s never managed to dampen the spirits of the staff,
musicians, or the fans.”
Curiously, it’s the weather that has provided some
of the most memorable moments for some folks, especially those who make
the pilgrimage year after year. They come for the music, the foothills
setting, and the warm family atmosphere — that never changes. But
it’s the changeable weather that many of the diehard fans insist,
along with those timeless elements, is what makes Jazzaffair unique.
Marilyn Carter, a retired nurse from Sacramento, has the
granddaddy of all festivals in her hometown yet she prefers the small-town
ambience of Jazzaffair.
beautiful here in Three Rivers, and the cozy venues are perfect for hearing
the best music on the festival circuit,” Carter said. “The
Sacramento jazz festival has grown so big and there are just too many
people that we don’t even go anymore.”
And all these good people gather and celebrate jazz music
like one big, happy family — musicians, jazz club members, friends,
neighbors, community volunteers and sponsors. Probably the biggest irony
of the popularity of the jazz festival is that this music was born in
the streets of Storyville, the red-light district of New Orleans.
Jazz beginnings –
When America first became conscious of jazz in the 1890s
and the decades after 1900, it was associated with all the worst elements
of society. That’s because it started with the musicians who played
as entertainment for the classiest of the legalized brothels in New Orleans.
The other cheaper joints, as they were called, depended on
itinerant musicians who played the streets and saloons of Storyville for
coins and drinks. One of the most popular of these early combinations
was a company of boys aged 12 to 15 years old called the Spasm Band.
According to a popular history of the French Quarter, written
by Herbert Asbury, these were the real creators of jazz, and this seven-piece
Spasm Band — who played homemade instruments, whistles, a cigar
box fiddle, and a harmonica — were the very first jazz band. Several
of the members of the Spasm Band went on to later fame, playing more traditional
instruments, and their careers are well-documented in the history of New
Today, the players at Jazzaffair, and the fans to some extent,
know and love many of the early jazz standards that poke fun at or refer
to being on the wrong side of the tracks, a street-corner gal, or a night
on the town spent misbehaving in a brothel or a saloon.
Although society has tamed somewhat, these modern purveyors
of the jazz tradition still come to Jazzaffair to entertain their audience,
enjoy the company of other musicians, see old friends and, like more than
a century ago, just to feel good about playing America’s music.
That’s what Jazzaffair is all about.
April snow survey
Snow news is good news
Most of the April 1 measurements are in for the Kaweah River
drainage and the snowpack is even better than expected. The basin average
for April 1 is a whopping 159 percent of average.
The April 1 survey is the most important of the year because
the figures document the total snow accumulation for the season. But that
doesn’t mean that more snow won’t accumulate.
In fact, the wet winter experienced in Kaweah Country this
year proves that anything is still possible. This quarter, the long-range
outlook still includes a regional forecast for above-average moisture.
As of Thursday, April 7, Sequoia National Park rangers reported
71 inches of snow at Lodgepole, which is at an elevation of 6,700 feet.
A snow-measuring station at 9,500 feet on the flank of Farewell Gap in
the Mineral King area of Sequoia is reporting nearly 12 feet of snow as
of April 1.
Other measurements recently recorded in Sequoia are: Panther
Meadow (8,600 feet), 12 feet 4 inches; Hockett Meadows (8,500 feet), 9
feet 6 inches; Mineral King (8,000 feet), 6 feet 9 inches; and Giant Forest
(6,400 feet), 5 feet.
All that snow won’t be melting anytime soon as the
weekend forecast is calling for cooler temperatures, especially in the
higher elevations as a weak trough of low pressure makes its way through
Rainfall as of Thursday, April 7, for the current season
in Three Rivers (1,000 feet) is 20.50 inches. On this date one year ago,
it was 13.02. In 2004, it rained another .25 of an inch on April 18 and
did not rain again for the rest of the season.
Local artists featured
‘Art Comes in 3 Dimensions’
Marn Reich of Three Rivers has gathered 20 artists from Three
Rivers, Visalia, and other communities in an effort to provide the three-dimensional
artists a place to show their work. The variety of media includes metal,
clay, gourd, fabric, paint, and wood.
Marn is the curator of the exhibit, entitled “Art Comes
in 3 Dimensions,” which is hosted by Arts Visalia and sponsored
by the Phylon Foundation.
Marn’s piece, took five months to complete and demonstrates the
challenging projects she creates.
Three Rivers resident Carole Clum is entering five ceramic
pieces entitled “Dancing Women.” She made 16 stoneware sculptures,
hand-built of coils and slabs of clay, before selecting the final five.
“I picked this
project because making people in motion is a challenge,” explained
Carole. “I love the creative process. I aim for perfection on every
piece. If I don’t attain perfection, I still feel the process is
worth the trip.”
Lidabelle Wylie, past president of Women Artists of the West,
is entering her favorite bronze piece, “Rodeo Clown.” It reflects
her connection to the western lifestyle.
“Ranching is the
only way of life I have ever known,” said Lidabelle, who has lived
in Three Rivers for most of her adult life. “I must express this
When Lidabelle was 10 years old, her teacher sent her painting
to the county fair. The blue ribbon Lidabelle won reinforced the pleasure
she had in making the piece. Pleasure, she said, is her greatest reason
to continue to work from her studio in Three Rivers — in oil, watercolor,
pastel, as well as bronze.
Jim Entz, also from Three Rivers, is entering his favorite
piece, “Crossing #7.” His art projects take one year or more
“The art grows
organically from wood supported by an accretion of layers,” reported
Jim. “It is a process that is a continuous meditation on pushing,
pulling, and dripping paint to create form and color that is primary and
visceral. Then I cut through the core to expose grain, the layered history
of the work.”
Richard Arenas, a San Joaquin Valley native, holds a master’s
degree in art. With metal fabrication techniques, Richard forms the metal
into various shapes to create bold spirals and soft curved lines.
are in honor of the many people who have suffered,” he said.
Other Three Rivers artists participating in the month-long
show are Lynne Bunt, Anne Haxton, Nancy Jonnum, and Mike Perez.
Arts Visalia’s Local Art Comes in Three Dimensions will run from
Tuesday, April 12, through Friday, May 13, at the Arts Visalia Gallery,
214 E. Oak St., Visalia (Tuesdays through Saturdays, 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.).
An artists’ reception will be held Friday, May 6, 6 to 8 p.m.
Jerry Jonnum of Three Rivers has made 10 pedestals to optimally
display the works. Luci Merritt, the Arts Visalia Gallery curator, promises
that the show will be a memorable artistic experience.
TIME WILL TELL
10 years ago this month
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 7, 1995— The 22nd annual Jazzaffair
came to town. The lineup included Jean Kittrell and the St. Louis Rivermen,
Night Blooming Jazzmen, Blue Street, Chicago Six, Stumptown, Black Diamond,
Misbehavin’, High Sierra, and more.
After more than a decade of volunteer service,
Sue Mills announced her retirement as Jazzaffair director. (Fast-forward
2005: It’s déjà vu all over again.)
A Hockett Meadows snow survey revealed an
average snow depth of 120 inches, “the best snowpack in years.”