Photo courtesy Lance Haslund
The Highline Classic Jazz Festival approaches; Des Moines' Landmark Event Center Saturday, March 9. The event was created by Lance Haslund of Burien. Pictured is Casey MacGill of Casey MacGill’s Orchestra, the headliners.

Highline Classic Jazz Festival approaches; Des Moines' Landmark Event Center Saturday, March 9

Burien Arts’ Fifth Annual Highline Classic Jazz Festival is nearing. The big event takes place at the Landmark Event Center in Des Moines, Saturday March 9th from 2:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Featured are 15 bands in three music venues playing Straight Ahead Jazz classics, and early to mid -20th Century jazz styles, Dixieland, Gypsy Jazz, Blues, Ragtime and Big Band Swing. The fest promoters promise plenty of dancing, food and drink, and schmoozing with the jazzbos.

The festival was started by Burien musician and Festival Director Lance Haslund. His wife, Laurie, the volunteer coordinator, said he puts in four months of full-time work to prepare each year's event.

"We started it as a program and project for Burien Arts," said Lance. "We're board members. Burien Arts used to have an art gallery and are working on getting one opened again. We present Shakespeare in the Park and we started the Strawberry Festival.

"The Highline Classic Jazz Festival is one of our signature events," he said. "This year's featured group is Casey MacGill's Orchestra, a 14-piece band playing swing and jump music reminiscent of Cab Calloway, Louis Prima, and others. Casey is known around town as one of the original classic jazz guys. He lives the part. He's got a little pencil-thin mustache, wears clothes from the era, plays ukulele and coronet and sings. The band members have the stage to themselves from 9:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m."

The Haslunds are also proud of the annual participation of a local high school band. This year it is the Highline/Aviation High School Jazz Band, a combination of students from both schools.

Said Laurie, "One of the most exciting things for all the performers is getting to hang out with each other because (generally) they're so busy gigging they don't necessarily get a chance to go out and hear each other perform. At this event they are all in the same place. And the students will get the same opportunity, to hang with all those professional musicians."

The Haslunds said they met as a result of music, and play in the band, Jangles, which they describe as "hick jazz" popularized by Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys in the 1930's, and the Sons of the Pioneers with Roy Rogers.

Sponsors of the Highline Classic Jazz Festival include Cedarbrook Lodge and Copperleaf Restaurant in SeaTac, New Balance Chiropractic in White Center, and The Highline Times among others. The Festival has also received support from Jazz Alley, 4Culture, Bake's Place in Bellevue, and many individual jazz lovers from around the Puget Sound area.   And they have a reciprocal promotional agreements with the "Jazz on the Lawn" summer concert series at Cedarbrook Lodge" and Des Moines Rotary's Poverty Bay Wine Festival.

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