Locals swing into jazz at festival

Published 2:34 pm Monday, October 7, 2019

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

Mesmerizing melodies and toe-tapping tunes filled the room during the In the Mood Jazz Festival on Oct. 5.

The event, which is hosted by the Central Alabama Performing Arts Guild, features a variety of local and regional talent at Senior Connection on an annual basis.

This year’s headliner was Chuck King and the Swing Kings.

Local musicians performed in The Prime Suspects and The Usual Suspects.

Mike Schiermann of Clanton and Dr. Howard Beckner of Bessemer performed with these groups.

“I just love playing, so having the opportunity to play for people … is a joy,” Beckner said.

Beckner plays the saxophone, clarinet, flute and a variety of other instruments.

One of his favorite songs from the day’s performance was “Swingin’ Shepherd Blues.”

“Because I get to play the flute with Lee McFall, and that’s something special,” Beckner said.

He began playing in high school.

“I focused on church music most all of my life,” Beckner said. “It was just within the last three or four years.”

Schiermann played a pivotal role in Beckner pursuing jazz.

Schiermann said the event had a “good turnout.”

“We have some amazing artists here, too, as a part of the art show,” Schiermann said. “The pedigree of some of these artists is just tremendously impressive.”

He was introduced to jazz by his grandparents, and it was his “first love” musically, Schiermann said.

“I never really latched on to a lot of rock ’n’ roll music (which was popular with his friends in high school),” Schiermann said. “It was always big band and swing and jazz for me.”

“Perdido” was Schiermann’s favorite song of the day’s performance. He called it “one of the great songs of all time.”

“I love Fever, the way Mary (Schiermann, his wife) sings it,” Schiermann said.

This year’s event saw many first-time attenders.

“This is actually one of the first times I have heard live jazz music, which is very exciting.” attendee Craig Isley said.

He said he enjoyed jazz but was new to the genre.

“I’m very impressed with what they have done so far,” Isley said. “It’s a nice event, especially for Clanton to have something like this is so rare, makes it really special.”

In addition to enjoying the music, many attendees took advantage of the Clanton Evening Lions Club shrimp boil fundraiser on-site. Percy Scott said he enjoyed the food and the people at the event.

“I love to meet the people,” Greg Nobles of the Clanton Evening Lions said. “We meet a lot of friends, meet a lot of people and show what the Lions are all about.”

Nobles said he was a “big fan of jazz music.”

“It is probably (my) favorite genre,” Nobles said.

Janice Hayes was also new to the music style but said she was enjoying the event.

“I enjoy it (the music) … and the food was delicious,” Janice Hayes said.

W.C. Hayes said it was an opportunity to enjoy a different style than many of the other musical performances he had attended.

“Senior Connection always has a lot of good things going on and this is a very good event,” Jennifer Carter said.

Visual artists set up booths to display and sell their work around the perimeter of the performance space.

Artist Ricky Martin of Sylacauga said it was his first time being a part of the event. Marin said he had chosen to be a part because he knew Mary Schiermann of Central Alabama Performing Arts Guild and participating artist Susan Hazzard.

Martin said he enjoyed meeting new people at the events and seeing their work.