Knox-Rootabaga Jazz Festival

Knox-Rootabaga Jazz Festival Features Julian Lage

Funky Butt Brass Band, Knox jazz groups, March 31-April 2

March 03, 2011

Julian LageThe 31st annual Knox-Rootabaga Jazz Festival features The Julian Lage Group, Funky Butt Brass Band, Knox College Jazz Ensemble, Knox Faculty and Friends Combo, and the Knox Alumni Big Band, March 31 through April 2 in Galesburg.

Festival passes and Saturday evening tickets are available in advance by calling (309) 341-7265 or e-mailing

The festival opens Thursday, March 31, at 8 p.m., with The Knox Faculty and Friends Combo performing in McGillacuddy's, 58 S. Cherry St., Galesburg. With a dozen of the region's most talented jazz musicians, the 2011 Faculty and Friends Combo will feature David Hoffman, trumpet and piano; Kevin Malley, alto sax; John Miller, guitar; Nikki Malley, vibraphone; Kevin Hart, piano, vibraphone and drums; Danny Leahy, piano; Hannah Malley, bass; Andy Crawford, guitar and bass; Steve Jackson, bass; Brian Zeglis, drums; Jake Dillon, drums; and Semenya McCord, vocals.

Photos: top of page, the 2010 Alumni Big Band; above right, Julian Lage; below right, Funky Butt Brass Band

Funky Butt Brass BandFriday night, April 1, brings the Knox Alumni Big Band at 8 p.m., and the Funky Butt Brass Band at 9:30 p.m., in McGillacuddy's.

Directed by Justin Haynes, a Knox graduate and band director at ROWVA High School, the Alumni Big Band draws on two decades of graduates of the Knox jazz program.

The Funky Butt Brass Band is a St. Louis-based brass band that blends traditional New Orleans-style jazz with funk, blues, and swing. A review by Towerlight Online praises the band for its "impeccable musicianship and technique [and] airtight grooves that would feel right at home on a James Brown A-side."

David Hoffman, Kevin MalleyThe Saturday, April 2, concert at 5 p.m. in the Orpheum Theatre, 57 S. Kellogg St., Galesburg, features the award-winning Knox Jazz Ensemble, directed by Nicole Malley, and this year's guest artist The Julian Lage Group.

The Knox Jazz Ensemble has performed for the Illinois Music Educators Association, Central Illinois Jazz Society and for jazz festivals at Western Illinois University, University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire, University of Notre Dame, University of Kentucky, University of Kansas, and the University of North Texas. The ensemble is directed by Nicole Malley, instructor in music and director of the jazz program at Knox College.

Photos: Above, David Hoffman on trumpet with John Miller, guitar, and Kevin Malley, saxophone, in the 2010 Faculty and Friends Combo; below, 2011 Alumni Big Band director Justin Haynes performs at the 2010 Knox-Rootabaga Festival.

Justin HaynesLage is a rising star in jazz guitar, noted for his combination of swing and modern rock influences, creativity and melodic power. According to a review in the British newspaper The Observer, "to find music that is both abstract and instantly attractive is so rare that there are virtually no points of comparison."

Sponsored by Knox College, with support from individual and corporate donors, the Knox-Rootabaga Jazz Festival for more than 30 years has brought leading jazz artists to Galesburg, including Matt Wilson, Kurt Elling, Benny Green, Frank Mantooth, Greg Osby, Curtis Fuller, Mose Allison, the Hornheads, and the Artie Shaw and Woody Herman bands. The festival was initiated by Galesburg community members Mona and Tom Tourlentes at Carl Sandburg College in 1980. It is named after "The Rootabaga Stories," a series of children's stories by Galesburg native and famed poet Carl Sandburg.

Founded in 1837, Knox is a national liberal arts college in Galesburg, Illinois, with students from 48 states and 51 countries. Knox's "Old Main" is a National Historic Landmark and the only building remaining from the 1858 Lincoln-Douglas debates.


Matt Wilson2011 Knox-Rootabaga Jazz Festival:

Thursday, March 31 at McGillacuddy's, 58 S. Cherry St.
8 p.m. - midnight
Knox Faculty and Friends Combo
Admission: $7 at the door 

Friday, April 1 at McGillacuddy's
8 p.m. - Knox Alumni Jazz Band, directed by Justin Haynes
9:30 p.m. - The Funky Butt Brass Band
Admission: $10 at the door 

Saturday, April 2 at The Orpheum Theatre, 57 S. Kellogg St.
The Knox Jazz Ensemble with The Julian Lage Group
5:00 p.m.
Knox-Rootabaga Jazz FestivalAdmission: $12-$16 at the door.

Photos, right: above, Matt Wilson, the 2010 Knox-Rootabaga guest artist, joins the Knox Jazz Ensemble; below, ensemble director Nicole Malley leads the band in its 2010 festival performance at the Orpheum Theatre.