Formed in Charleston in 1997, The River City Dixieland Jazz Band is more than just an entertaining ensemble of talented instrumentalists. It is also a dedicated group of professionals who specialize in the presentation of traditional American
jazz, “N’Orleans style”.
Historically, Charleston has always shared many characteristics with its Louisiana counterpart. But now, the Holy City can also say it has that special spirited sound that’s rarely heard anywhere else, real Dixieland jazz!
River City will
provide a uniqueCharleston experience for all, even
families with small children.
Hearing and seeing the various instruments in the
band always fascinate the kids, and to everyone’s
delight, they’ll want
to dance to this spirited music that people of all ages find so appealing.
jazz is a happy, toe-tappin’ kind of music that’s never too loud,
fun to dance to and entertaining even for those who just want to listen.
guests cansing along to
familiar tunes like “Ain’t She Sweet,” “Five Foot Two,” and “Bill Bailey, Won’t You
Please Come Home.” Of
course, they’ll also have the opportunity to try their luck dancing
city’s most famous tune, “The Charleston”. The band’s
renditions of Louis Armstrong’s “Hello Dolly” and “Wonderful World” are
great crowd pleasers too, as well as “The Muskrat Ramble,”
“Tiger Rag,” “Sweet Georgia Brown” and our traditional red-hot
closer, “When the Saints Go Marching In”.
City’s recent appearances include many private functions at landmark venues such as Charleston Place Hotel, Boone Hall,
Magnolia and Middleton Plantations. Other familiar establishments downtown include the Blind Tiger and
9 months of weekly performances at the Southend Brewery on East Bay Street.
You too will find River
City to be a great choice for a variety of functions including private parties, corporate meetings, outdoor gatherings and
special events. Give us a call. Let’s see how a little Dixieland
Jazz can make your next function one they’ll remember.
Traditional jazz is above all,
unstructured. Rarely is a tune played exactly the same way twice.
As one musician comments, “There is a surprise in every box.” It is
this spontaneity that gives Dixieland its special style and sense of
freedom. Every musician makes up his part as he goes along. The
King, as the cornet player was called in early bands, sets the pace
and carries the melody. The trombone and clarinet fill in the
chordal structure, while the rhythm section is the engine that makes
it all work together.
The origins of jazz are a bit
muddled, because there were no recordings at the end of the 19th
century—no vinyl, no tape, no CDs, not even radio. The only people
who heard music were the people who heard it being played. We
surmise that the elements of this new musical expression were
Ragtime, the Blues, and Parade Music. Ragtime was
highly syncopated music for dancing, and was often played by
pianos. It became popular because perforated paper rolls could be
made of this music which could then be played on a player piano—an
early form of recording, and those could be mass produced, so many
people could hear one person’s playing of a ragtime tune. Ragtime
was highly structured and written out. Not much improvisation.
The blues came out of the black
work songs in the South. The characteristics of this element
include a significant freedom of expression and personalization of
the tune and the lyrics. It also used what we call “the blue notes”
of the scale. These provide a minor tension in a tune, and when
added on to a regular tune (like a Rag or a march), give it more
Finally, the parade bands provided
the training for many musicians. They played Sousa marches and
other things an Army band might play—and they used instruments left
in New Orleans by the departing Union Army musicians in pawn shops.
Their venue was the streets of New Orleans—for birthdays, weddings,
funerals, political rallies or any other excuse. The trombone
player often sat on the tailgate of a wagon, so he could extend his
slide and use it to the best advantage. The clarinet players, who
had been trained in classical music to play in the Creole symphonic
orchestras, began to play the piccolo obligato parts on the trios of
the marches, gradually expanding the style throughout the piece,
while the cornet carried the tune throughout. And of course, parade
music is all about the beat, because you march to it.
Initially, New Orleans jazz had few
soloists, and most of them were cornet players. The beat was pretty
even (1,2,3,4). But as jazz moved up the Mississippi River to St.
Louis and Chicago, other soloists began to emerge and what we now
call Chicago-style Dixieland features solos by every player, and a
strong two-beat rhythm (on beats 2 and 4), like rock and roll.
But mainly this music is about
having fun, and expressing joy in life. It’s simple stuff. It
makes your toes wiggle, and it makes you smile. Nearly everyone
likes it. So do we, and we’re happy to share it with you. This is
America’s music, mixing African and European music in a unique way
which emphasized personal freedom of expression. It is like New
Orleans gumbo—not really one thing or another, but a wonderful
mixture of cultures and flavors that is unique and memorable. Bon
Ain’t She Sweet
Alexander’s Rag Time Band
Basin Street Blues
Bourbon Street Parade
Buddy Bolden Blues
Bye Bye Blackbird
Do You Know What It Means To Miss N’orleans
Down By The Riverside
Five Foot Two
Georgia Camp Meeting
Georgia On My Mind
Hello Central, Give Me Dr. Jazz
How Come You Do Me Like You Do?
I Found A New Baby
Just A Closer Walk With Thee
Midnight In Moscow
Save Yo’ Confederate Money
St. James Infirmary
Struttin’ With Some Barbeque
Sweet Georgia Brown
That’s A Plenty
The Blues My Naughty Sweety Gives To Me
The Charleston South
The Tin Roof Blues
Up A Lazy River
Washington & Lee
When The Saints Go Marching In
Yes Sir, That’s My Baby