Originally created 05/07/99

June Jazz arrives in May



Grab a bottle of wine, a picnic basket, lawn chairs and a blanket for an evening of cool music beside the Savannah River -- just don't look at the calendar.

Although it's still being billed as June Jazz, All That Jazz's eighth-annual candlelight outdoor concert series at Riverwalk Augusta's Eighth Street bulkhead is already in swing.

Summer heat precipitated the move.

"It's real plain and simple -- it was so unbearably hot," said bandleader Wayne Hoey.

The musicians sweat anyway, but when concertgoers began complaining about the heat, Mr. Hoey decided to move the series to May in hopes of milder weather and bigger audiences.

Mr. Hoey retained the name June Jazz so people would know the series had not been canceled. "If I said May Jazz, they may not know it's the same thing," he explained. "It's not gone. It's just been moved."

If the May run proves successful, Mr. Hoey may extend performances at the Riverwalk into June.

The big band Sophisticated Swing performs at 8 p.m. Sunday as June Jazz in May continues. Admission is $5 at the gate.

The band, which is basically All That Jazz augmented by a keyboard player and horn section, will perform classic swing songs by composers such as Duke Ellington, mixed with contemporary hits from the current swing revival.

Mr. Hoey said they'll play Brian Setzer's Jump Jive and Wail and Rock This Town along with Cherry Poppin' Daddies' Zoot Suit Riot.

So, among concert paraphernalia, dancing shoes may be appropriate as well.

Since the concert is on Mother's Day, some salute to motherhood will probably be performed, too.

"We'll pull something out of our hat," said Mr. Hoey.

In past years, the shows have drawn about 1,000 people.

Mr. Hoey borrowed the idea for candlelight concerts from Chastain Park amphitheater in Atlanta, where patrons bring picnic dinners to concerts and dine by candlelight.

The Eighth Street bulkhead slopes enough that it approximates a natural amphitheater, with the river in the background. The levee helps retain sound.

The candlelight series continues May 16 and 23 with performances by All That Jazz, followed by Sophisticated Swing on May 30.

Before Sunday's concert, a free art show featuring watercolors by Annette Bush will be on display at Cotton Row Cafe's Whitney Room.

The series marks the beginning of the outdoor concert season at the Riverwalk. Here's a roundup of other May events:

The Southern Gospel Music Association will present a concert from 7 to 10:30 p.m. Friday, May 14, at the Jessye Norman Amphitheater.

The 10th Annual Riverwalk Acoustic and Bluegrass Festival will be from 3 to 10 p.m. Saturday, May 15, at the amphitheater. Performers include Avalanche, Flatbed, Andy McCraw, Cedar Hill, the Flowers Family, Steelblue and Betty Fisher. Advance tickets are $5 and are on sale at Smile Gas locations.

The Augusta Choral Society, the Augusta Children's Chorale and Orchestra come together for Pops Along the Savannah, an evening of Broadway tunes, at 8 p.m. Saturday, May 22, at the amphitheater.

The Augusta Concert Band performs its Ninth Annual Memorial Day Concert at 7:30 p.m. Monday, May 31.

For more information, call Riverwalk Special Events at 821-1754.

On stage

What:

June Jazz in May Candlelight Concert featuring Sophisticated Swing

When:

8 p.m. Sunday

Where:

Eighth Street bulkhead

How much:

Phone:

868-0006

Kent Kimes covers entertainment and arts for The Augusta Chronicle. He can be reached at (706) 823-3626 or feature@augustachronicle.com.