Art Talk Monday

Russ-Town Jazz sizzles in summer show by John Emory, Jr. the President of the Dixie Center for the Arts

Help welcome back Russ-Town to the Dixie Center for the Arts on Aug. 4., in a presentation reminiscent of the dance bands of the 1940s.

The band is directed by Lawrence Gibbs, associate professor of music at Louisiana Tech University and conductor to the Russ-Town Band.

A long-time supporter of the Dixie, Gibbs has many talented musicians, and music that will never be forgotten lined up for the evening.

“The band consists of members of the Russ-Town Band who have experience in the jazz idiom. The concert will feature the hits of the Big Band Era with the music of Count Basie, Stan Kenton, Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman and many others,” Gibbs said. “The band is totally a volunteer group. Our goal is to provide a yearly fundraising event for the theater. Even though the concert is free to the public, a donation would be gladly accepted to supported productions of The Dixie.”

Members of Russ-Town Jazz come from many backgrounds. Saturday night’s roster will be recognized by many, as it includes Randall Barron, George Campbell, King Scott, Greg Thomas, Scott Smith, Josh Hires, Tiffany Woda, Tim Pardue, Jeremy Scott, Charles Gaushell, Josh Mattison, Randall Wood, Nick Wood, Jeff Gibbs, Shirley Barron, Steve Blackwelder and Chance Tarver. Guest vocalist for the evening will be Nancy Wilson, of Monroe. Lawrence also promises a few surprises during the performance. Russ-Town Jazz will be one of those performances you shouldn’t miss.

Ruston is very blessed to have Gibbs in our community, and I’m not sure everyone is familiar with the background of this exceptinal musician. At the university, he teaches clarinet and saxophone, directs the Jazz Ensemble, the Symphonic Band and assists with the Marching Band of Pride.

An active performer, Gibbs frequently appears as a soloist and chamber musician and has performed with the Monroe, Shreveport and South Arkansas Symphonies. He’s also performed at the International Clarinet Fest in New Orleans and Oklahoma Clarinet Symposium in Norman, Oklahoma. His past professional experience includes a five-year stint in Las Vegas. In addition, he’s performed with Bob Hope, Liberace, The Nelson Riddle Orchestra, Connie Frances, Susan Anton and the gospel group, “The Martins,” among others.

It goes without saying, the talent on the Dixie stage at 7:30pm Aug. 4 runs deep. Mark your calendar now to be with us as Gibbs directs his exceptional creation, Russ-Town Jazz.

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