Southern Fried Jazz, a seven-member Dixieland ensemble based in Charlotte, N.C., will perform a concert as part of the Hartsville-Coker Concert Association’s 2012 Series at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 12 at the Center Theater in downtown Hartsville.
Southern Fried Jazz Band offers authentic Dixieland jazz music and depicts the evolution of early jazz in America from the levees and cotton fields of Louisiana up the Mississippi to the early jazz clubs in Chicago. Featuring trumpet, clarinet, trombone, bass, piano, drums and a vocalist, its concerts include musical renditions reflective of different locales and tempos and anecdotes by leader Don Edwards that give the audience a chance to share in experiences that are an important part of the nation’s past, present and future.
Edwards worked as a professional musician both before and after his formal education at the Cincinnati Conservatory. He paid for his education by working club dates and serving as a part-time player for WLW radio, the Albee Theatre pit orchestra, the Cincinnati Symphony and the Cincinnati Gardens Orchestra.
Edwards first performed Dixieland music as lead trumpet with several popular bands during the Big Band era. He worked in Las Vegas for more than a decade where he served as a member of various house bands performing in stage shows and making recordings with artists such as Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr.
During his tenure at the Sands Hotel, Edwards performed with the Nelson Riddle Orchestra on NBC’s Nat King Cole Show and later served as a member of the Rat Pack band. He also backed such greats as Louis Armstrong and the World’s Greatest Jazz Band.
After leaving Vegas, Edwards moved east and eventually settled in the Carolinas, where he started the stage band at Furman University. Since relocating to Charlotte, he has served as music contractor and lead trumpet for various shows and big bands throughout the Southeast, including his own.
Seeing declining interest in jazz in recent years, he organized Southern Fried Jazz Band as a vehicle for promoting an appreciation for the genre among music lovers of all ages.
A partnership between Coker College and Hartsville, the Hartsville Coker Concert Association presents an annual program of performing arts events in downtown Hartsville and on the Coker College campus. Individual tickets are sold for each event, and discounted season tickets are included in the Association’s membership.
Tickets for the concert, which are available at the door, are $25 for adults and $7 for children under 18. Coker students, faculty and staff with college identification are admitted for free.