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Albert Lea festival toots bandleader Doc Evans' horn

By Jeffrey Pieters

jpieters@postbulletin.com

Jazz fans in southern Minnesota will have several chances this summer to feed their hunger for live music.

A handful of festivals, from La Crosse, Wis., to Albert Lea, offer a menu of music performances to satisfy lovers of traditional jazz, from Dixieland to big band.

First up is a July 6 festival in Albert Lea commemorating a late Minnesota bandleader who made his mark in all the major U.S. jazz capitals.

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Doc Evans, a trumpeter and cornetist, widely regarded as the state's premier Dixieland player, performed during his long career in clubs in Chicago, Milwaukee, Detroit, Boston, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Evans, who died in 1977, continues to have an international following.

He is a member of the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame and was named to the Minneapolis Star Tribune's list of Minnesota's 100 most important musicmakers. Butch Thompson, famed musician with "A Prairie Home Companion," got his start in Evans' orchestra.

Evans was born in Spring Valley and lived most of his life in the Twin Cities. Albert Lea, where Evans played a handful of times during his career, "adopted" him, so to speak, when it started the Doc Evans Jazz Festival four years ago.

The event attracts several hundred people per year to the gazebo in Albert Lea's Fountain Lake Park. This year, the free festival shares the park with the Albert Lea Art Center's "Art in the Park" event.

Performers this year include three Minnesota bands: the Barbary Coast Dixieland Band, the Mouldy Figs Jazz Band and the Blue Ox Jazz Babies.

Performances begin at 11 a.m. and run until 5 p.m.

A week later, on July 13, the city of Winona hosts a similar event. The Lake Winona Jazz Festival features three bands performing in the Jaycee Pavilion at Lake Park. Performers include the Mississippi Mudcats, Barbary Coast and Winona's own Gate City Jazz Band. The free event runs from noon to 6 p.m.

Other significant jazz festivals within a day's drive include:

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The Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Festival, July 18-21 in Davenport, Iowa;

Lakeside DixieFest, July 27-28 in Clear Lake, Iowa;

The Great River Jazz Fest, Aug. 1-4 in La Crosse, Wis.

If you have a place you'd like to see in Destinations, please call 252-1111, category 8638, the Life &; Leisure line, and leave a message. We'll try to schedule your suggestion for an upcoming feature.

Doc Evans Memorial Jazz Festival

July 6, Albert Lea.

Features: Three Minnesota-based traditional Dixieland bands.

Cost: Free.

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Information: 1-800-345-8414 or www.docevans.com.

Lake Winona Jazz Festival

July 13, Winona.

Features: Three area Dixieland bands; 15th annual festival.

Cost: Free.

Information: (507) 452-2277.

Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Festival

July 18-21, Davenport, Iowa.

Features: 31st running of renowned festival features 11 top bands from around the world.

Cost: $9 and up, depending on the level of ticket.

Information: 1-888-249-5487 or www.bixsociety.org.

Lakeside DixieFest

July 27-28, Clear Lake, Iowa.

Features: Six Dixieland bands perform in city park and on cruise boat.

Cost: Park performances free, $10 for cruise.

Information: 1-800-285-5338 or www.clearlakeiowa.com.

Great River Jazz Fest

Aug. 1-4, La Crosse, Wis.

Features: Ten U.S. bands playing a variety of jazz styles.

Cost: $12 advance, $14 at the gate. VIP badges also available.

Information: (608) 791-1190 or www.centurytel.net/jazzfest.

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