KASU to present "Jazz for the Holidays" in Pocahontas

Nov 18, 2019

Jazz for the Holidays performers
Credit Gary Gazaway

JONESBORO – KASU-FM 91.9 radio, Arkansas State University’s public media service, will present “Jazz for the Holidays” on Saturday, Dec. 7, at 7:30 p.m., in downtown Pocahontas at the Rendezvous Event Center, 106 West Everett. Featured musicians are Lisa Ahia, Sam Ahia, Gary Gazaway, Joy Sanford, Tim Crouch, Robert Bowlin and David Eckert. Admission at the door will be a suggested donation of $15, or $5 for students.

Pocahontas native Gary Gazaway has organized a group of talented area musicians to perform jazz arrangements of familiar holiday songs and Christmas hymns for this concert. Gazaway is a trumpeter, composer and record producer who has been working as a professional musician for over four decades. He has recorded or performed with musicians including Joe Cocker, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Derek Trucks, Phish and many other international artists.

Vocalist Lisa Ahia’s musical career began at age eight on stage with her father, Sam Ahia, an acclaimed traditional Hawaiian and jazz guitarist. She has performed in some of the major Polynesian shows in her native Hawaii. She also loves to sing standards from the Great American Songbook and has performed with jazz artists including Hugo Fattoruso, Victor Wooten, Charles Thomas and Buck Powell. 

Heralded as Hawaii’s premier jazz guitarist, Sam Ahia has achieved accomplishments in musical styles that transcend his native-born Honolulu roots and has gained international attention from major artists and musicians around the world. Sam has performed with jazz artists including Freddie Hubbard, Monk Montgomery, and luminaries George Benson and Howard Roberts. In the 1970s, he began working for many of Hawaii’s musical legends including Don Ho, Loyal Garner, Jimmy Borges, and with the most important native Hawaiian musicians playing ukulele and slack key guitar. He performed at Carnegie Hall in New York City in 2013 and was recently featured on the Hawaii Public Radio Hawaiian Music Series.

Pianist Joy Sanford is a native of Hardy and studied classical piano at A-State, and has been a long-time resident of Jonesboro. She is a former band and choir director at public schools in Arkansas and has served as an accompanist for many area musicians, performing in a wide variety of musical styles. Joy also studied jazz piano at the acclaimed Jamey Abersold jazz workshops in Louisville and has performed with many important musicians in her career.

Violinist and multi-instrumentalist Tim Crouch is from Strawberry. He is a former staff fiddle player for the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, and has appeared as a session musician on thousands of recordings.  He has collaborated musically with Dolly Parton, Glen Campbell, Alan Jackson, Jerry Reed and Mike Snider.  He has also appeared on television programs including Austin City Limits, Hee Haw, the Late Show with David Letterman, and Late Night with Conan O’Brien.

Guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Robert Bowlin was raised in Pocahontas. He is a past winner of the National Fingerpicking Guitar Championship. Bowlin has recorded or performed live with Kathy Mattea, Tom T. Hall, Ricky Skaggs, Bill Monroe, Bobby Bare, and was bandleader for Bill Monroe. He has appeared numerous times on the Grand Ole Opry.

Bassist David Eckert is classically trained and studied with Ferdinand Maresh of the Philadelphia Orchestra well as with Clifford Spohr and Dwight Shambley of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.  Eckert spent two years as the principle double bassist for the Sinfornica Nacional in the Dominican Republic. Upon returning to the United States, he enrolled at Kent State in library science and developed a passion for jazz. He plays with several groups in Northeast Arkansas and is director of the Craighead Public Library.

The concert is presented by KASU and sponsors, including River Bank of Pocahontas, Lesmeister Guesthouse, City Pharmacy, and Bella Piazza & Uptown Pub.