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Three Rivers,
Sequoia and Kings Canyon
National Parks,
Lemon Cove and Woodlake
Kaweah Kam

  Celebrating 10 years:

March 1995 ~ March 2005

For the past decade,

The Kaweah Commonwealth

has been telling readers

things they won't read, hear,

or see anywhere else!



In the News - Friday, APRIL 8, 2005

Jazzaffair is

weekend headliner

   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.

  “Weather-wise, 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.

  “It’s so 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 – 1890s
   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 Orleans.
   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

reveals hefty totals

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 the region.
   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

in Arts Visalia show

‘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.

  “All Creatures,” 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 interest.”
   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 to complete.

  “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.

  “My sculptures 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.
   Information: 739-0905.

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.”


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