The From Africa to Appalachia Foundation, in conjunction with Morristown Parks and Recreation, are presenting two free concerts featuring some of the best musicians in east Tennessee. On Saturday, August 30, at 7 p.m., The Streamliners will be bringing their high-energy big band/jazz music to Martin Luther King Park. Jenna and Her Cool Friends will bring their amazing blues sound to Fred Miller Park on Saturday, October 4, at 6:00 p.m. In addition to the outstanding music, patrons will also be able to enjoy, and even purchase, some of the best art in the area. A select group of artists and craft artists will be set up two hours before each concert with a variety of high quality work for sale.
The Streamliners is a 19-piece volcanic explosion of high-energy big band music. Led by Morristown native Michael Spirko, the Streamliners is comprised of some of the best improvising jazz musicians in the area. According to Nate Arthur of The Daily Beacon, “They are a bona fide jazz dance band whose members have good chops and clearly love and understand the involved music they play. They fluidly blend the blues, bebop and traditional swing with a jump-inflection, and the boys have style to boot.” With a reverence for the rich tradition of the music, the group performs swing tunes of past big bands along with vocal icons like Sinatra and Joe Williams. According to Streamliners leader Michael Spirko, the group plans to do a tribute to two of the greatest big band / jazz musicians of all time, Count Basie and Duke Ellington. Listen to some of their music on their website: wwwthestreamliners.com.
Art and crafts of all kinds will be available at the concerts. Paintings, drawings, ceramics, painted porcelain, jewelry, textile work, gourd art, photography and wood working will be found in the booths of talented area artists. Those who will be displaying their work at the Streamliners concert on August 30 include: Helen Buis, Jane Buis, Dan Gibson, Selina Golden, Patty Gracey, Sammie Nicely, Ron Plasencia, Cathy & Tom Teller, and Linda White. If the temperature isn’t too high, special guests The Chocolate Ladies will also be on hand with their delicious treats.
Vivacious vocalist Jenna Jefferson gathered Her Cool Friends – Michael “Crawdaddy” Crawley (harmonica/vocals), “Detroit Dave” Meer (guitar/vocals), Keith Ford (rhythm guitar/vocals), Glyn Loyd (bass/vocals), Kevin Redding (drums), and Ben Maney (keyboards/vocals) – for a Blues Cruise on the river in 2010, and a very cool new blues band with an all-star lineup was born. They became Knoxville’s most popular Blues band almost immediately, playing for appreciative audiences everywhere they went. In 2012, they represented Knoxville at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, making it to the semi-finals in competition with 118 other bands. Last year, they were voted “Best Blues Band” in the Metro Pulse readers’ poll and then released their debut CD, “I’m What You Get,” this March. Visit their website: www.jennaandhercoolfriends.com for more information about these talented musicians and their CD.
These concerts are a continuation of a series begun by the From Africa to Appalachia Foundation in the fall of 2013. The organization’s president, Sammie Nicely, says, “We wanted to present different genres of music heavily influenced by African American artists.” Leading to this year’s jazz and blues concerts were gospel and old time concerts. “Thanks to the support of the Parks and Recreation Department and a grant from the Live to Give Foundation,” Nicely adds, “we are able to offer free admission to these performances.”
Seating in the parks will be on bleachers. Feel free to bring your favorite lawn chair or a blanket to spread out and enjoy an evening of live music.
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