Shimmy-shaking in Lacey … with all that jazz

Andrena Greavette and Anne Fraser attend jazz festivals all over the Northwest, from Kalispell, Mont., and Seaside, Ore., to Ocean Shores and their hometown of Vancouver, B.C.

But the retirees said America’s Classic Jazz Festival, which wrapped up Sunday at Saint Martin’s University in Lacey, is one of their favorites.

“This is a really friendly festival,” said Greavette, 70.

“It’s great fun,” added Fraser, 78.

At a time when some jazz festivals around the country are closing, the 21-year-old America’s Classic Jazz Festival is growing, according to festival director Charlotte Dickison, 86, of Olympia.

This year’s event was spread out over four days and boasted four stages and dance floors. Bands played in the Marcus Pavilion, the Worthington Center, the Trautman Union Building and inside a large tent on the university campus.

About 4,500 people attended. They came from 25 states and Canada.

“The attendance is up,” Dickison said.

Organized by the Greater Olympia Dixieland Jazz Society, the festival featured a dozen bands, such as the St. Louis Riverman, the High Sierra Jazz Band, the Grand Dominion Jazz Band, the Bob Schulz Frisco Jazz Band and Tom Rigney and Flambeau.

Many of the groups perform on cruises and at other jazz festivals, Dickison said.

“All of these bands travel the world,” she said.

Greavette and Fraser – who wore fringed flapper-style dresses, feather boas, shimmery hats and blond wigs – spent Sunday afternoon dancing the Charleston. They’ve been attending jazz festivals with friends for about 20 years.

“We’re like little kids, getting to dress up,” said Fraser. “I’m thankful to have this in my life.”

The festival’s mission is to give people a chance to enjoy Dixieland jazz, which also is known as early jazz and New Orleans jazz.

Or, as Dickison called it, “Fun loving and good toe-tapping music.”

The event also helped raise money to help send area youths to one-week summer camps where they can study traditional-style jazz music.

“It’s just to keep jazz alive,” Dickison said. “Jazz is America’s music.”

Lisa Pemberton: 360-754-5433