A love letter to Sylvan Lake.
The eighth annual Sylvan Lake Jazz Festival is coming up Aug. 19 to 22 and I am very pleased to return with the HOT Dixieland Jazz Band under the leadership of the festival’s co-founder, Eric Allison.
In a year where the C-Jazz festival in Calgary had to be cancelled, Albertans should prize this little gem of a festival all the more.
Past headliners of the Sylvan Lake Jazz Festival include Canadian jazz piano great Oliver Jones, percussionist and band leader Dan Brubeck, and this year, Juno-nominated vocalist Emilie-Claire Barlow will appear. Many superb local Alberta musicians perform here as well, and deserve our support and attention for keeping jazz alive here.
The volunteers get a huge thanks from me; they make a festival like this one possible and the people who billet musicians probably never get the thanks they deserve either. Dale and Bonnie Ganske have billeted me and several other band members for years now. They have taken us into their homes and made us feel like family and are some of the nicest people you would ever meet.
Last year, though, something happened that really blew my mind. We were performing at the Lions Legacy Park Gazebo and there was one small parking spot just before the driveway near the RCMP offices, which was close enough to unload my tuba and not have to carry it too far.
At break time I went back to the car to get something and saw an officer just putting a ticket on my window; none of us had noticed a ‘No Parking’ sign very high up on a pole!
OK, well that’s life, but when I mentioned it to the fellows in the band one of the volunteers overheard. This gentleman was so incensed that he immediately took up a collection to pay for the fine! I was reluctant to take the money because I figured, I did the crime so I expected to pay the fine.
But no, this was considered a great injustice to me and a personal affront to my friend and supporter Phil Norris. That evening about two-thirds for the fine was presented to me, in cash, and there was no way was I allowed to refuse it.
There is not any other place I can think of where this would happen and why Sylvan Lake will always have a special place in my heart.