The new performance hall at Jackson High School will host one of the top jazz bands in the United States on Thursday night. The Shades of Blue Jazz Ensemble will take the stage to entertain young and old with a variety of tunes.
"We are very excited and honored to have a military band of this caliber performing in Jackson," said David Ludwig, Americanism officer with American Legion Post 158 in Jackson. "Working with the Jackson School District to bring this concert to the community has been great, and we're really looking forward to showcasing the group."
Ludwig is also the county auditor.
The Shades of Blue Jazz Ensemble is made up of 18 members of the U.S. Air Force. The group tours extensively all over the country and performs in venues from baseball stadiums to jazz clinics and festivals. The elite players in the Shades of Blue Jazz Ensemble have a range of influences, from big band styles in the vein of Count Basie and Duke Ellington to swing and bebop by contemporary composers. Of course, the ensemble's focus is on celebrating the heritage and pride of the nation and the Air Force.
"This concert not only showcases the Shades of Blue Jazz Ensemble, but we will be awarding one of our outstanding Legion members an honor as well," Ludwig said. "Our focus is community; Christy Shinn and Beth St. John, both talented musicians and teachers at Jackson, will be singing the national anthem. We will have Legion Honor Guard members there to assist with wheelchairs, as well. Anyone needing assistance will get it."
Matt Lacy, assistant principal at Jackson High School, said the school is happy to feature the concert.
"This performance is a great fit and has worked out well with the new performance hall," he said. "We're glad to be able to help out the Legion post by providing the facility. We have set the facility up to accommodate around 1,200 attendees, and have tried to minimize the [number] of steps for people coming to see the concert."
Lacy also said there will be an intermission during the performance and concessions will be available.
Jackson's new performance hall debuted last year with the baccalaureate in May and has been a centerpiece in school performances and concerts.
"We have distributed about 1,000 tickets so far," Ludwig said. "This is the first concert in the new building outside of school activities, and we think it is a great opportunity to show off this incredible facility to the community."
The concert is at 7 p.m. Thursday. Free tickets are available in Jackson at Country Mart, Jones Drug Store, Horst Pharmacy and the Cash Book Journal office. In Cape Girardeau, tickets are available at Schnucks.