Jazz & Wine Among Friends fest promises to really swing, man


— With a new headliner on tap, this year’s Jazz & Wine Among Friends festival is sure to be a hot ticket.

Friends of Children of Walla Walla will hold its fifth annual Jazz and Wine Festival fundraiser Aug. 24-26.

The festival is slated to feature a variety of musical talent from around the Pacific Northwest, as well as wines produced in the Walla Walla Valley.

Friends focuses on matching children throughout the Valley with caring adults who are interested in acting as their mentors.

Started in 1999, Friends has thus far made more than 600 matches.

The festival is one of the group’s two annual fundraisers.

The Shanghai Woolies from Portland will headline the festival this year, playing “hot music” from the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s.

Also formed in 1999, the Woolies got together after Gavin Bondy, trumpeter for the Portland-based Pink Martini, developed a fascination with the orchestration of jazz in the ’20s and ’30s.

“He started the band based on a dream of getting some of those things into a smaller format,” said Ben Medler, the group’s current musical director and trombonist.

However, unlike bands of that era, which often featured massive horn sections of 13 or more players, the Woolies work to produce a similar sound with an octet of musicians, only three of whom are horn players.

The Woolies make up the difference with a distorted guitar, which allows them to emulate a big band’s sound.

According to Medler, their audience at first was mostly corporate.

Recently, the Woolies have expanded to playing clubs in the Portland area and plan to record a studio album in early 2013.

When asked what the audience should expect from their show, Medler cited musical variety as one of the Woolies’ greatest strengths.

“We do a lot of schticks,” he said. Medler said he often does a Louis Armstrong impression during the Woolies’ shows, and other band members have their own takes on the material they perform.

Medler said the Woolies want to make sure that their audience feels engaged with the performance.

“We’re really trying to connect with the people,” Medler said, noting that one of the hallmarks of early jazz was a greater connection between the performers and the audience.

After taking time off the road, the Woolies are itching to bring their take on jazz up from Portland for the festival.

“We can’t wait,” Medler said.

If you Go

What: Jazz & Wine Among Friends, a fundraiser for Friends of Children of Walla Walla.

The five-venue musical evening will be Aug. 24 in downtown Walla Walla.


  • 4:30-6:30 p.m.: Gary Hemenway, Sinclair Estate Vinyards, 109 E. Main Street
  • 6:30-9 p.m.: Fork in the Road, Walla Faces, 216 E Main Street
  • 7-9:30 p.m.: The Sound Money Band, Marcy’s, Colville and Main Streets
  • 8-10:30 p.m.: The Crawford Glenn Band, Charles Smith Wines, 35 S Spokane St.
  • 9 p.m.-Midnight: Franco Paletta and the Stingers, Sapolil Cellars, 15 E Main St.

Tickets for all five shows are $25.


  • 6:30 p.m.: The Crawford Glenn Band will open for the Shanghai Woolies, Waterbrook Winery, 10518 U.S. 12. Tickets include appetizers, desserts, and a glass of Waterbrook wine. More wine will be available for purchase, including bottles custom-labeled for the occasion. Tickets cost $70.
  • Sunday
  • 10:30 p.m. and 12:30 p.m.: New Orleans-style jazz brunch with music by the Uptown Lowdown Jazz Quartet, Whitehouse-Crawford, 55 W Cherry Street. Tickets cost $40.

Tickets for all three events can be pre-purchased for $120 ($15 cheaper than all the tickets bought separately) from the Friends of Children of Walla Walla website, or at the downtown Walla Walla Visitor Center at 26 E. Main St.

Information: Friends of Children of Walla Walla at 527-5745.


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