Fans of jazz cut a rug at weekend festival in Port Angeles

PORT ANGELES — They came from far and near this weekend, crowding into venues across town to tap toes, cheer swinging solos and cut the proverbial rug at the Jazz in the Olympics Festival.

Up to 2,000 people are visiting Port Angeles to hear the foot-stomping roots of jazz, said Gary Sorenson, festival director.

Featuring 10 bands from around the country and spread out among four venues — showcasing instruments not generally heard on Top 40 hits, like the tuba and the banjo — the festival is showing that the music might have found its niche in the North Olympic Peninsula, Sorenson said.

A fan told him there may not be another place in the world where 10 traditional jazz bands can be seen over four days.

“In all humility, I agree,”‘ he said.

Deon Keller of Port Angeles got an early jump on the festivities Saturday morning, turning out at the Elks Naval Lodge to hear the lively syncopation of the Jazz in the Olympics Society Youth Band.

Was it too early?

“Not for Dixieland jazz,” she said.

For future generations

Sanford Feibus of Sequim, director of the JITOS (for Jazz in the Olympics Society) Youth Band, said weekend-long events are important to keeping the traditions of Louis Armstrong and Jelly Roll Morton alive for future generations.

“It all started from this,” he said, noting that the festival also gives the older generation a reason and an occasion to practice its dance floor chops.

“It’s probably what’s keeping them alive,” he said with a laugh.

When A. C. “Borgy” Borgerson learned how to play the banjo from his father, it was already an instrument past its peak in popularity, he said.

Festivals like the Jazz in the Olympics, which are held throughout the United States, go a long way in educating younger generations about the history of the music.

“This is what it sounded like back when,” he said backstage at the Vern Burton Center.

Jazz in the Olympics, featuring three days of Dixieland Jazz in several venues, will end today.

Event badges are $15.

Venues are the Vern Burton Center, 308 E. Fourth St., which is “jazz central;” the Red Lion Hotel, 221 N. Lincoln St.; the Elks Naval Lodge, 131 E. First St.; and the Eagles Club, 110 S. Penn St.

Food and beverages are available at all venues.

Today’s schedule will include:

9 a.m.: JITOS Youth Band at Vern Burton

9:30 a.m.: New Black Eagle “Spiritual” at Vern Burton

10:45 a.m.: Paramount at Vern Burton; Uptown Lowdown at the Eagles; High Sierra at Red Lion

Noon: Buck Creek at Vern Burton; Original Salty Dogs at the Eagles; Holotradband at Red Lion

1:15 p.m.: Uptown Lowdown at Vern Burton; High Sierra at the Eagles; Paramount at Red Lion

2:30 p.m.: New Black Eagle at Vern Burton; Buck Creek at the Eagles; Original Salty Dogs at Red Lion

3:45 p.m.: Holotradband at Vern Burton; Uptown Lowdown at the Eagles

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