Three Rivers jazzes up annual Christmas celebration

Sierra Traditional Jazz Club celebrates holiday tradition of annual Christmas Party with tuneful music, festive food and more

THREE RIVERS – People can head for the hills this holiday season to celebrate the annual Christmas custom of a local jazz club in Three Rivers.

This year, the Sierra Traditional Jazz Club’s annual Christmas Party returns to spread some seasonal cheer on Saturday, Dec. 10 with a Western-esque music concert, a festive potluck, with a variety of food and refreshments and more. At the event, there will be a concert by the Los Angeles-based, swing band Dave Stuckey & The Hoot Owls, who have never been to Three Rivers, so people can listen to some jazzy tunes and enjoy an afternoon of dancing, if they desire.

“We’re just reaching out for people to come and try something different,” the club’s Jazzaffair director Linda McKee Amaral said. “Take some time out of your day, sit and listen to some music, enjoy people and dance a little.”

The festive celebration is taking place at the Three Rivers Memorial Building, located at 43490 Sierra Drive. The doors open at noon to give attendees a chance to bring their dishes and treats for the potluck, which participants are encouraged but not required to partake in, and get seated in preparation for the band’s performance. The show starts at 1 p.m., followed by a brief intermission at 2 p.m. so everyone can grab some food and goodies, and then the show will resume from 3 p.m. to the event’s close at 4 p.m.

For refreshments, aside from the standard drinks of coffee, water, beer and wine, Amaral said the Christmas Party will have a bar with a plentiful of “crazy, fun” drinks made to fit the seasonal theme, like a “naughty or nice” punch for everyone to enjoy.

The money made through the event will pay for the cost of the band as well as the Sierra Traditional Jazz Club’s music scholarship, which interested students can apply for in the springtime. 

For anyone interested in purchasing tickets for the Christmas Party, tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the doors of the event or online at the Jazzaffair website at threeriversjazzaffair.com/event-details/christmas-party

According to Amaral, the club’s tradition of having a Christmas Party has gone on for about 30 years, and has been received well amongst the community of Three Rivers. After she retired from work and returned to the community, which is her hometown, she said she and her sister were elicited to help with the club and the club’s annual festival, Jazzaffair, which brings together a plentiful of jazz bands and musicians for the community to enjoy. They were encouraged to help because of their father, Earl McKee, who was a founding member of the Sierra Traditional Jazz Club.

“Now, we’re looking to revitalize the club to bring in new people, bring in some younger people, and keep the tradition of keeping music alive,” Amaral said.

In addition to music and dancing, the event will also include a raffle to give participants a chance to win a pair of all-day pass badges for all three days of Jazzaffair, which is set to take place this upcoming spring. Raffle tickets can be purchased at the event for a dollar a piece, with potential for there to be custom deals if more than one ticket is bought, according to Amaral. The custom badges are like pins, to clip onto something like a shirt, hat or lanyard, and can be used for entry to the Jazzaffair festival for all three days it is going on: April 14, 15 and 16.

Otherwise, badges for Jazzaffair can be purchased by reaching out to the club or at the event’s website at threeriversjazzaffair.com/event-details/jazzaffair-2023. If purchased before March 15, 2023, the badges count as an “early bird” special and can be purchased for $110, and for $120 after the date. Other tickets and deals are also available on the website and have different prices depending on the tickets purchased.

This spring, the Sierra Traditional Jazz Club’s 48th annual Jazzaffair festival is featuring nine jazz bands, although according to the Jazzaffair website, the bands are still subject to change. Right now, the bands planned for the event are the Sierra Seven Reunion, Blue Street Jazz Band, Dave Bennett Quartet, Holland & Coots Quintet, Tom Rigney & Flambeau, The Barbary Coast Jazz Club, Gino & The Lone Gunmen, St Johns Riverboat Jazz Band and Dave Stuckey & the Hoot Owls.

The Jazzaffair festival will take place at three venues over the course of the three days. The venues are the Three Rivers Memorial Building, Three Rivers Lions Club Roping Arena at 42490 N. Kaweah River Dr. and at the St Anthony Retreat at 43816 Sierra Dr. According to Amaral, as it stands now, the times for the event this spring are 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to approximately 4:30 p.m. According to the Jazzaffair website, a shuttle will be available to transport people between sites and is free for people with badges. People without badges are expected to pay the shuttle fee.

Additionally, at Jazzaffair, the festival will feature a type of birthday bash for the Fresno band Blues Street Jazz Band, who will be celebrating 40 years of making music.

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