On Saturday, June 29th, the annual Jazz on the Waterfront concert returns to the Odess Theater in the historic Allen Hall at Sheldon Jackson. This year’s Speakeasy-themed benefit features a 20-piece Big Band playing popular songs from the 1920s through the 1980s. Early in the evening, Chef Donte will serve a New Orleans-style dinner in the new Odess Theater followed by dancing into the night. Tickets for the concert and dinner are $65 and available at Old Harbor Books; all proceeds go toward supporting the Sitka Fine Arts Camp. Those interested in the event are advised to get tickets early as it usually sells out quickly.
To start the night, the band will take the audience on a journey back to the 1920s with traditional New Orleans jazz tunes by Louis Armstrong, King Oliver and Jelly Roll Morton. The second set features early-swing era classics by Jimmie Lunceford, Mary Lou Williams and Duke Ellington. The “exotic” third set features works from Afro-Cuban charts from the late-1940s and 1950s that drawn on African and Cuban rhythms and the middle-eastern sounds of Casablanca, Morocco and Egypt. The fourth set evokes a 1950s Las Vegas showroom and highlights tunes made famous by such crooners as Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra and Louis Prima. The band closes out the night with some hard driving 1970s funk and popular ‘80s songs from artists such as Michael Jackson, James Brown and Earth, Wind and Fire. Made up of professional musicians from around the United States, the band is led by Kyle Athayde, bandleader of New York’s hottest new Big Band—the Kyle Athayde Dance Party!
All proceeds from ticket sales and additional donations go to the Sitka Fine Arts Camp, which has for over forty years inspired campers of all ages to find their creative voice and reach their artistic potential. Money raised at the Jazz on the Waterfront event goes toward scholarships, staffing and supplies for campers. Tuition for each student typically covers less than halfof the cost of sending a child to camp–16% of campers receive need-based financial aid. Since being established in 1973, SFAC has provided a top-notch arts education to thousands of campers. This year alone, over 700 students from 37 Alaskan communities, 27 states and 5 different countries will attend one of our nine camps, which include the traditional middle school and high school camps, as well as the Musical Theater camp and Dee Daniels Vocal Jazz camp, among others.
The summer arts camps and Sitka Fest programs take place on the historic Sheldon Jackson College campus in Sitka, which was gifted to the Camp in 2011 after the College’s closure four years earlier. The Camp has since undertaken the monumental project of restoring the historic buildings on the campus, which is registered as a National Historic District.
As part of an ongoing 40th anniversary challenge, an anonymous donor has pledged to match any gift made to the renovation efforts by the end of this summer. If you would like to donate to the Sitka Fine Arts Camp to support the students and historic restoration efforts, please contact 907-747-3085 or visit www.fineartscamp.org/donate.