Free concert in Jackson City Park this weekend

Friday, September 15, 2006
Pat Schwent

Free concerts aren't new to the Jackson City Park.

Over the years, the park has played host to alternative concerts called "Shellshocked" and the regular summer offerings by the Jackson Municipal Band.

But this weekend Pat Schwent wants to try a new kind of concert -- a twilight romp through the sounds of the '50s, '60s and '70s, especially the Motown music that dominated the airwaves of the era.

"It's a chance for us and for the people at the concert to go back and relive what we were doing in our college years," Schwent said. "It seems as if there are many people out there who enjoy listening to the music of their college years.

"With this concert, hopefully the baby boomers can sit in the park with their families and have a great evening."

Schwent's newest arrangement of musicians, the 11-piece big band Saxy Jazz Transitions, hope to deliver some nostalgia with a two-hour concert Sunday at the park. The Transitions' program will be filled with hits from the past like "I Will Survive," "Respect," "Mustang Sally" and the somewhat-appropriate "Saturday in the Park."

The band is primarily anchored by horns. The Transitions perform the songs of the past, but not all of the musicians are old enough to remember the tunes at the height of their musical popularity. Chrissie Icaza, a 25-year-old Jackson native who was an "American Idol" semi-finalist two seasons ago, fronts the band on vocals.

Schwent said Icaza performs Motown tunes better than the original artists. The end result is a group far different from Schwent's usual jazz ensembles.

While Jackson's City Park has played host to free concerts at its bandshell in the past, those events are rare except for the regular municipal band concerts that occur each summer.

But Jackson's parks director Shane Anderson said concerts are always a welcome addition to the park's activities.

"We're excited about using our bandshell to begin with, and an event like this is going to make great use of it," said Anderson.

A Jackson resident and former music teacher in the city's public schools, Schwent said she thinks the venue is one of the best for outdoor concerts in Southeast Missouri.

Schwent is billing the event as a "family night in the park," encouraging the public to come with picnic baskets in hand to dance and hear some familiar tunes. The evening will also be recorded, so Schwent hopes the crowd will make plenty of noise.

Most of all, Schwent said the concert is about fun for both the listeners and performers.

"I guess I've come full circle with my music," Schwent said. "How many people get to retire from a job they love and go back and start at age 20? That's exactly what I've done."

335-6611, extension 182

Want to go?

* What: Saxy Jazz Transitions Concert in the Park

* When: 5 p.m. Sunday

* Where: Jackson City Park Bandshell

* Info: 243-5061

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