Five of us, members of the Scottsdale Strummers, attended the 7th Annual Flagstaff (Ariz.) Folk Festival where we performed over the June 28-29 weekend. The Strummers are a ukelele orchestra, and we were joined by two other ukelele players and a mandolin artist from the host city area. Our group consisted of Pat McInnis, leader and ukelele player; Myrna Foster and Lois Collins, ukeleles; and Duane Foster, ukelele and electric bass. I was on washboard. Amidst all the country and bluegrass musicians, I was the only washboarditionist, and I quickly was given the title "Scrapper" by one of the fans.
It was my first country/bluegrass/folk festival, and it was most enjoyable. There were no big headliner groups, but a few highlights included groups like Three Legged Dog, Mars Hillbillies, Pony Express and the Mexican Beaded Lizard Band. There were 30-40 additional players on guitars, banjos, mandolins, ukeleles, violins (fiddles) and acoustic basses. A number of these were just learning their craft, but the majority were seasoned players. Several workshops were held on the weekend and were interesting to attend.
The setting was absolutely beautiful in the mountain/pine country just north of the city. And for those of us who have become accustomed to 110+ degree weather in Arizona's Valley of the Sun, temperatures in Flagstaff were mild -- just in the mid-80s. We are looking forward to the 2009 season in Flagstaff and may go up there Sept. 12-14 for the Pickin' In The Pines Bluegrass Festival. You can call (928) 525-1695 for more information on the bands and artists like Del McCoury and the Nashville Bluegrass Band who are scheduled. The future of our Strummers looks good with invitations to events like The Prescott Folk, Festival and West Valley Arts Festival at Surprise in October. Other contacts have been made.
We are also pleased with the reactions we have received about the formation of our Washboarditionist Society which is open to all of those who play the washboard or who are in groups that utilize a washboard. We're hoping to be able to put together a small festival sometime during 2009 which will feature the washboard as the great musical instrument it is. Interested in joining us? Call (480) 348-3702 or write to our Arizona Chapter at 6835 East Kings Ave., Scottsdale, AZ 85254.
Locally the Swingtime Jazz Band continues its record run at the Scottsdale American Legion on Wednesday evenings. Bill Tharp has rejoined the group on trumpet, replacing Dave Chaney who is undergoing extensive dental work. We'll keep you apprised of Doc's condition and look forward to his rejoining the band when he is able to start playing again.
Our next out-of-town visits will be in September to Denver, Colo., and the Annual Summit Jazz Party with an opportunity to see Jim Cullum and his great San Antonio group; always marvelous. After that we'll travel to Sacramento for the West Coast Ragtime Festival where we will hear our favorite ragtimers Nov. 21-23.
We hope you will all stay active in your support of the trad musicians in your areas. Keep jazzin'!