Doc Evans Jazz Festival returns after hiatus

Published 2:37 pm Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Planners of the Doc Evans Jazz Festival are busy gearing up for this year’s event on the traditional first Saturday in July — which this year is on July 5.

Honoring the memory of Paul “Doc Evans,” the festival will feature dixieland/jazz band Moldy Figs, along with band Rueben Ristrom and the Bourbon Street Boys, which were hired by Allen Evans, son of Doc Evans.

“Come and have a good time, and hope for good weather,” said organizer Jim Pilgrim.

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After a one-year hiatus from the festival last year because of financial concerns, organizers are hoping for a great success at the event this year.

Susie Petersen, executive director of the Albert Lea Convention and Visitors Bureau, said because she received so many calls last year about the jazz festival being canceled, she thought it would be a great idea to bring it back this year.

She approached Pilgrim about organizing the festival again, and with the help of the city of Albert Lea, the Convention and Visitors Bureau and other organizations, it is coming to fruition.

“It’s a great way to celebrate the Fourth of July,” Petersen said. “Especially since the Fourth is on Friday, this would be a great way to celebrate Saturday.”

Hy-Vee has donated refreshments along with a Pepsi stand. The event is from noon to 5 p.m.

Evans, a Dixieland horn player, was born June 20, 1907, in Spring Valley, located south of Rochester and Stewartville.

Though he received formal training in piano as a child, he was self-taught as a drummer, saxophone, trumpet and cornet player.

By the late 1920, Evans became a full-time musician, specializing in dixieland and jazz.

After living in the Chicago area for five years and later traveling around the nation, he returned to Minnesota in 1952 to organize his own band. The band played at several different events in the region, including at the University of Minnesota Concert and Lecture Series, in a television series called “This is Dixieland,” and at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis for 10 years.

He opened a jazz club called The Rampart Street Club. He died in 1977.

The official Doc Evans Web site is at