Concert features southern jazz Dixieland favorites

Rain can alter plans for an outdoor picnic and concert, but it couldn’t break the spirit of the more than 100 people who showed up to the South Hills School of Business and Technology to hear some Dixieland music Sunday.

The concert, one installment of the annual summer music picnic series, featured the early jazz, Dixieland stylings of Deacons of Dixieland. The performance was moved inside the school because of the midafternoon rain showers in the area.

But trumpet player Jim Ressler said he was happy about the change.

“I’m glad we’re in here,” he said. “It’s easier to play in here than outside.”

He said the acoustics were far better than playing in the open air and the closer audience created a more intimate feel.

The 80-year-old musician, who has been playing Dixieland music for almost 50 years, still enjoys audience reaction and jamming with his friends. Ressler likes to crack jokes and keep the crowd laughing and smiling.

“It’s unplanned and unscheduled. It’s just off-the-cuff,” he said of the humor. “Everything is ad-libbed.”

And the biggest thing is keeping the crowd smiling, he said.

He was originally drawn to the early jazz genre because of the “happiness and the melodies that you can remember.”

Lois Krausser, of State College, has attended many of the weekly summer concerts for the past 10 years, and said Deacons of Dixieland is one of her favorites.

She likes the band’s interaction with the crowd and the music genre that she can tap her foot to throughout the show.

“It’s uplifting,” she said. “It’s fun music.”

Krausser said the concert series usually features music that is more geared toward older generations, but she encourages anyone to come out and see the bands because some acts appeal to everyone.

After a break next week for the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts, six more groups will take the stage Sunday evenings at 6. They are the State College Municipal Band, Tarnished 6, The Les Shaw Band, Heritage Brass, The Little German Band, and Tommy Wareham and The Intrigues.

Ressler said he was happy people came out to the concert because it does a good job of highlighting local talent.

“It’s a wonderful thing for the community and for the local musicians,” he said.