Friday, June 6, 2014

Jazz Under the Dome

Miles Davis & Dizzy Gillespie
at the French Lick Jazz Festival by Duncan Schiedt
With big names like Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie and Benny Goodman, French Lick’s Jazz Festival (1958-1960) brought notoriety to the small Indiana town. The three day festivals, produced by Newport Jazz founder George Wein, drew more than 20,000 people. The jam-packed line-up included jazz all-stars who played in both indoor and outdoor venues, including an 800 seat amphitheater on the 18th fairway of the Valley Links Course.

David Baker leading
the French Lick Orchestra
by Duncan Schiedt
It’s amazing to think that for the top ticket of $4.75, first year attendees were treated to a line-up of Gene Krupe, Eddie Condon, Duke Ellington, Dave Brubeck and Miles Davis. In doing research for this story, we discovered that live recordings of the 1958 festival exist on    

Unfortunately, the turbulent times of that era forced concert organizers to pull the plug on the 1960 festival before it got off the ground. Luckily for us, the legacies of those Midwest jazz festivals still live on and French Lick is often noted in the musicians’ memoirs!

Sarah Stivers performing in
the West Baden Springs Hotel Atrium
In more recent history, Sarah Stivers Productions has brought jazz back to the property named “Best Historic Resort” by Historic Hotels of America. Whether she is performing herself or bringing in quartets from Louisville, Indianapolis and the like, jazz is available every weekend throughout the year.

Now we are excited to announce a new musical offering, Jazz Under the Dome, a full weekend of jazz vignettes in the West Baden Springs Hotel August 22-24.  Ease into the day with breakfast infused with light jazz by Craig Wagner; grab a rocking chair on the veranda overlooking the garden and relax with the Rob Dixon Group or catch late night jazz in the library with the Jamey Aebersold Quartet. In all, there will be over 21 hours of musical entertainment available throughout the weekend and best of all, there’s no cover charge!

Jazz Under the Dome artists include:

Jamey Aebersold
Saturday, August 23 • 9pm-Midnight
West Baden Springs Library

Aebersold has made enormous contributions to the jazz world through his tireless efforts as a performer, educator and publisher. In 2014, the National Endowment for the Arts bestowed the saxophonist a Jazz Masters award.

After Hours Quartet
Friday, August 22 • 9pm-Midnight
West Baden Springs Library

One of Evansville’s premier groups for over 20 years, After Hours offers the best in jazz and pop standards. You can expect to hear Ellington, Gershwin and Porter mixed with the Beatles, Stevie Wonder and Elton John.

Rob Dixon
Saturday, August 23 • 1pm-4pm
West Baden Springs Veranda

Often referred to as the “Musical Mayor of Indianapolis” Dixon’s style is both respectful of tradition and free with expression. He has played with legendary artists such as the Count Basie Band, Tony Bennett, and The Ellington Band as well as Slide Hampton, Dakota Stanton, Rufus Reid, Akira Tana and Jonah Jones.

Mike Lucas Trio
Friday, August 22 • 5pm-9pm
West Baden Springs Atrium

Lucas’ primary style of music is jazz/swing standards, but other styles are offered as well. Mike has performed with Henry Mancini, Johnny Mathis, Andy Williams, Perry Como, Natalie Cole and many others.

Sarah Stivers
Saturday, August 23 • 5pm-9pm
West Baden Springs Atrium

As the house musician for the French Lick Resort, Stivers has standing gigs in the West Baden Spring Hotel Atrium and in the Power Plant Bar & Grill. Though she has been labeled a pop singer, a jazz vocalist and a cabaret chanteuse, Sarah considers herself a “musical chameleon.” Call it what you will but with a voice that's clean, sexy and "buttery smooth," she is definitely a guest favorite.

Her repertoire includes music from Mozart to Maroon 5 and she leads four different-sized bands that play disco, big band, cabaret-style, rock & roll, jazz, Broadway, Motown, country, classical, 70s music, bluegrass and show tunes. 

Craig Wagner
Saturday, August 23  & Sunday, August 24 • 9am -11am
Sinclair’s Restaurant

From performing Rhapsody in Blue a featured soloist with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra to touring and recording with platinum-selling rock band Days of the New, Craig Wagner is recognized as one of the most versatile guitarists on the scene today.



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