Spring is the Season for Renewal at the Jazz Hall

CEO, Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame

ROCKIN ACOUSTIC CIRCUS: This sensational teenage band will rock the Jazz Hall of Fame Friday, March 27 at 7:30 p.m. The members of the group include Carson Klemshire, Zac Hardin, Sterling Abernathy, Eric Dysart, Emma Hardin and Rick Morton, their leader and musical director.

Courtesy Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame

Spring is upon us and it is the best time of the year! What’s so cool about this season is that it affords us the opportunity to shed those winter sweaters, jackets and coats and hopefully shed some of those winter pounds and cozy up to spring and its beautiful bounty.

Too often we zip through life without stopping to admire and appreciate God’s amazing landscape. Bouquets of flowers are blooming all over, while trees are bursting forth with their various shades of green, and who can’t look in awe at those mesmerizing baby blue skies, while basking in the warmth of the sun. In this rush, rush world, wouldn’t it be nice to slow down a bit and take a moment out of our busy lives to visit one of Tulsa’s picturesque parks and either sit on a bench, or stroll the grounds to stop, look and listen to the sounds and smells of this eye-popping spring season. You will be blessed with a sense of serenity and peace. With the stress of everyday life, visiting our parks is an inexpensive way to treat yourself to God’s country. It’s also the season to join a gym or begin a workout regime. Walking or running is also a good option for a healthy lifestyle; after all, spring is the season for renewal.

Speaking of spring, the music continues to fill the air at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame with our 2009 Spring Jazz Concert Series. Our efforts are to celebrate “live??? music and present the sheer joy of music, straight up and unadorned. The concerts have been, without a doubt, some of the most amazing concerts we have ever produced. Serious props to Maestro Marc Gottlieb, pianists Donald Ryan, Chuck Gardner, Amy Cottingham, Scott McQuade and Jeff Newsome for a stunning jazz keyboard concert. Another Tulsa pianist, Rick Fortner, presented what was perhaps one of the most dynamic concerts ever presented at the Jazz Hall of Fame. Vocalist Tavis Minner was also a standout performer in Fortner’s concert. Needless to say, the University of Tulsa’s Big Jazz Band always presents a top-notch program and the young musicians were terrific. Chuck and Sandy Gardner also presented an elegant afternoon of jazz for the Spring 2009 season.

Rockin Acoustic Circus Rocks the Jazz Depot Stage on Friday, March 27 at 7:30 p.m.

Recently I had the chance to interview a few members of Rockin Acoustic Circus, the teen music sensations from Tulsa who play bluegrass, country and a bit of jazz. There are two things that are clear in my mind about these talented teens: their undeniable commitment to growing as artists and the fact that they love playing music. The members of the group include Carson Klemshire, Zac Hardin, Sterling Abernathy, Eric Dysart, Emma Hardin and Rick Morton, their leader and musical director.

Carson is 15 years old and has been playing the banjo for three years. He actually began his musical career playing the guitar. Initially, he learned a couple of songs on the guitar, but soon thereafter he was introduced to the banjo music of Earl Scruggs, J.D. Crowe, Scott Vestal and Bela Fleck and was immediately influenced by their talent and extraordinary playing ability. Needless to say, Carson feel in love with the banjo and from that point on was 100 percent hooked.

I asked some of the members if they would like a career in music and like clockwork, they instantly said “Oh yea, we would a love a career in the music industry.??? Their enthusiasm is infectious and when you see them perform on stage, you can definitely see how much they love what they do and you can also see that you are witnessing future successful Oklahoma music stars. You don’t want to miss these amazing kids in action!

I spoke with Zac Hardin, who is 14 years old and the bassist for the group. In addition to playing in the Circus, he takes classical bass lessons at the Barthelmes Conservatory with Robin Smith and studies jazz bass lessons with Tulsa music educator and bassist extraordinaire Jim Bates. “I really love my lessons at the Conservatory and I love playing classical music.? Zac continued, “I also enjoy playing with the Circus; it’s really a lot of fun and I’m able to express myself freely, because in my mind that is what music is all about. I love being able to pursue both classical and the music of the Circus right now. Whatever the future holds for us, the Circus will keep progressing with our technical ability. I would like to see the Circus perform at major festivals, get a recording deal and just be the best musicians we can be.? Zac will attend a couple of music mini camps and string bass competitions this summer in Philadelphia and New York City. He’s excited and we are excited for him.

When I caught up with 16 year old Eric, who plays the fiddle and is the male lead vocalist, he told me that he had been playing the fiddle for about ten years and singing for four or five years. I asked Eric what is his favorite music to listen to and he stated, “I like to listen to blue grass, country and classic rock.? I also asked Eric who his favorite fiddle player might be and he said, “I love all of them, but my favorite is Mark O’Connor; I really like him.? Actually Mark O’Connor is a hit with all the members of the Circus. I will write more about the amazing Mark O’Connor and his induction into the National Fiddler’s Hall of Fame Gala on April 29 in the next issue of Inside Scoop. Finally, I asked Eric, “What would you like to see for yourself in the future?? “I believe we will keep playing and that everyone will keep enjoying every moment of performing. We will also keep practicing and getting better too. I see myself 20-40 years from now still playing and enjoying music as a professional musician and playing in the band.? As a singer, I asked Eric what type of songs he really enjoyed singing and he stated readily, “Oh, I really enjoy singing upbeat blue grass and country tunes, but the songs that tell a story and touch the heart, basically the ballads, are those I love singing most.???

I have been a fan of this group for some time now, and they have performed at the Jazz Hall of Fame on other occasions and always to standing ovations. It’s really refreshing and thrilling for me to see young people who have their heads on straight, and focused on their future with a positive attitude. A lot can be said about their parents, grandparents and family members for helping to steer them in a clear and healthy direction. I asked them if they would give any advice to other young people who may want to follow in their footsteps, and each of them said the same thing: “Practice, practice, practice and never, never give up.??? Carson, the banjo player, even suggested that one could also practice with a metronome to keep proper time.

Updated 04-07-2009

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