One for the Ages

Signs of the season: frigid snow and Dixieland jazz.

There are a few noticeable signs of the seasons here in the Inland Northwest: the frigid temperatures in the winter and the Dixieland Jazz Festival early every summer. Each summer for the past 11 years, music enthusiasts have clamored through the downtown streets to the Masonic Temple to revel in the age-old musical art of Dixieland Jazz. This year is no different: the festival will be held June 9-12, again at the Masonic Temple, and promises to be as good as, if not better, than past events.

One word that may describe Dixieland jazz is "sousaphone." You may be more lost now with the description of this musical style, but stay with me -- we'll get there. These unique brass instruments are the cousin of the tuba, have a more mellow sound and fit right in with the type of bands found at this festival. The sound of Dixieland is a musical stew that rouses the senses with a combination of marching band flare, ragtime piano structures and a dash of Broadway show tunes. Spokane has been fortunate enough in the past to draw some of the best acts of their genre for the festival. This year will be no different.

A few of the notable performers include festival mainstays Black Swan, the Dixie Dandies and the Louisiana Joymakers from Canada. The bands all play similar brands of Dixieland and admittedly have common sounds. The payoff for seeing ensembles like these is the musicianship. I went to the festival a couple of years ago and was blown away by how these unassuming musicians with day jobs tore it up on their respective instruments. Even if this type of music isn't your thing, get out of your box and get some schooling in music appreciation this weekend.

In addition to great music and a fun atmosphere, there will be vendors on hand to hook you up with all your favorite Dixieland garb as well as plenty of CDs to satisfy your musical craving. As a venue, the Masonic Temple may be one of the best places in town to see live music. The acoustics are grand, d & eacute;cor is unmatched and the Masons are the most gracious of hosts. There is an ongoing renovation/restoration happening at the temple, but there will still be plenty to see. Don't forget there are also jazz bands on hand from several local schools. There is literally something here for anyone and everyone to enjoy. Be sure to bring your dancing shoes, as there will also be dance lessons on Saturday at 4:30 pm.

The Spokane Dixieland Jazz Festival is at the Masonic Temple Thursday, June 9, through Sunday, June 12. Tickets: $15-$30. All-Festival passes are available call 325-SEAT. Visit

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