Once upon a time in the 1960s through the ‘70s, a quaint, unassuming nightclub in Evergreen, CO – known as the Red Ram – hosted the likes of Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Buddy Rich and Woody Herman. In 1975, the Red Ram updated and changed into the Little Bear saloon and restaurant, but didn’t change its celebrity allure, continuing to attract big musical names – Bo Diddley, Rita Coolidge, Willie Nelson, Leon Russell, John Lee Hooker Jr. These big names felt at home enough to just loosen up, hit the stage and jam.
Gypsy Swing Revue
Today, the former dance hall/church/drugstore/brothel is honored to be one of four main, intimate venues hosting jazz, big band and swing bands for the town’s annual Evergreen Jazz Festival (this year, it’s held from July 23-25). All four venues allows for audience participation in the form of dancing. A free shuttle to any of the venues (a saloon, a lake house, an Elks Lodge, and a church) allows for visitors to check out as many of the scheduled acts as possible.
James Dapogny’s Chicago Jazz Band
The festival—fairly new since 2001—offers music for everybody, whether it’s swing or straight-ahead. The proven acts come from all over to give and have a great time.
The Celebration Jazz Band from Ft. Collins, CO is one of the proven mainstays and audience favorites, lead by Bob Cooke. These guys have been festival faithfuls from inception. From Denver comes the Gypsy Swing Revue, made up of Elliot Reed, Dmitriy Fisch, Stephen Hill, and Ian Hutchison. The ensemble specializes in 1930s/40s swing jazz, modern gypsy jazz and reflections of Django’s Hot Club, featuring the trademarked two acoustic guitars, upright bass and violin. Ann Arbor, MI’s James Dapogny’s Chicago Jazz Band?has performed in the prestigious Carnegie Hall, the Smithsonian and A Prairie Home Companion. That this selective, highly discriminating band has chosen to grace Evergreen with its presence speaks to this festival’s greatness.
Besides live performances, every day is a day to swing dance, as well as learn more about jazz (July 23rd, noon—free, two-hour educational concert presentation by vocalist Wende Harston and pianist Hank Troy). Free swing dance lessons by Jesse Kahat and Philippe Taillon and a Sunday gospel service highlight the festival.
For more info: Ticket costs are reasonable, with a three-day festival badge going for $145, or individual sessions between $65-$115. Call (303) 697-5467 for any serious questions.