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Labor Day jazz at Hot Jazz Jubilee

Sacramento’s turning into festival town with food festivals, film festivals and music festivals. The newest music festival, End of Summer Hot Jazz Jubilee, is scheduled for Labor Day weekend in Rancho Cordova at the Marriott Hotel.

This inaugural festival opens Friday, Aug. 30, at 5 p.m., with a welcome party by the pool. The Blue Street Jazz Band from Fresno is scheduled to perform from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., and The Crescent Katz and Clint Baker are scheduled from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.

The festival really heats up after 7 p.m., when the six venues open to welcome bands like Sister Swing, a trio of vocalists who focus on jazz songs from the 1930s and 1940s; Big Mama Sue, a performer of many talents and washboard player extraordinaire; New Orleans Racket Makers; and Meschiya Lake and Dem Lil’ Big Horns.

Saturday, Aug. 31, and Sunday, Sept. 1, the music starts at 9:30 a.m., and continues through midnight. Monday, Sept. 2’s shorter day still provides a musical feast from 9:30 a.m. until 3 p.m.

Saturday’s special event is a wine tasting party from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., with the Bob Draga & Friends Quartet performing and mingling. Draga is a jazz clarinetist who’s been known to perform traditional, swing and even some zydeco.

And Sunday features a special lunch honoring the event’s patrons.

Other jazz bands scheduled to appear include Blue Street Jazz Band, High Sierra Jazz Band and Bob Ringwald’s Fulton Street Jazz Band.

Gator Beat will burn up the stage and get you on the dance floor with its own style of zydeco and New Orleans R&B. Gator Beat was a regular at the Sacramento Jazz Jubilee from 1996 until 2010 and has performed in venues as diverse as The Moscone Center, The San Francisco Academy of Science, fairs, private events and, of course, jazz festivals. 

Among the invited artists are Sacramento native Jason Wanner, who often performs with Blue Street in addition to being a jazz camp mentor, and Yve Evans, a jazz singer who is a two-time recipient of the Monterey Jazz Festival’s Musician of the Year Award and a lifetime achievement award from the Desert Theatre League. Wanner and Evans share a love of the music, which touched their lives at very young ages.

Travelling from New Orleans after walking away with multiple awards at the Big Easy Awards, including "Best Traditional Jazz Band" and "Performer of the Year," Meschiya Lake and Dem Lil’ Big Horns is worth the extra effort to track down in the schedule’s listing and locate on one of the many stages. Lake’s story is nearly as interesting as her sound is true. She reaches deep within herself and pulls from the jazz greats to produce a sound that is rich, fun and always moving. Don’t be put off by the body ink she sports, one listen to that voice and you’ll know she’s the real deal.

Shelley Burns, High Street, Hot Flashes, Au Bros.w/Howard Miyata and Tom Rigney & Flambeau are also scheduled. And five youth bands – Dixie Dominus, TNT, Crazy Eights, In the Swing of It and River City Swingers – will perform, proving that jazz is for all ages.

Other special performances include Saturday’s 11 a.m. tribute to Doris Day with Jim Martinez and Sunday’s "Diva Set" featuring five of the female performers including Burns, Evans and Lake.

With 14 bands scheduled, including six guest artists, jazz in its many forms may be enjoyed in six venues – three with dance floors – for four days. Jazz lovers are sure to get their fill.

Rooms are still available at the Marriott and space is available for those who own recreation vehicles. Tickets range from $10 for the student rate (a badge good for all four days) to $500 for the family patron package rate (all four events badges plus two patron badges and admission to a special Sunday patrons’ lunch. The basic four-day badge runs $95 and includes the poolside welcome party. Individual daily badges are also available.

Editor’s note: Every Thursday we deliver a local event guide straight to your inbox, right on time to make your weekend plans. Sign me up.

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