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Hershey Jazz band performs in KearneyTell North Platte what you think
Photo by Joe Chitwood
Trumpets and saxophones
Photo by Joe Chitwood
Lori Evans
Photo by Joe Chitwood
The Hershey jazz band

The Hershey Blues Jazz Band entertained more than 300 school administrators Thursday at the Nebraska Rural Community Schools Association Conference in Kearney.

The 12-piece band was invited to open the two-day conference of 195 school district members that work together to support educational programs in rural Nebraska.

“We support fine arts and always like to open by inviting jazz bands or choirs to perform,” NRCSA President Steve Grizzle said.

“The youngest member of their group is an eighth grader, and the oldest a senior,” Grizzle told the crowd as he introduced the Hershey band. “And on March 21, they received a superior rating at the Southern Platte Valley Association conference meet and brought home the best of conference trophy.”

Band Director Lori Evans said the group specializes in “big band swing,” but utilize a variety of musical styles.

They opened the show with Mister Lucky by Henry Mancini and followed with music by the group Earth, Wind and Fire.

The crowd tapped their toes and swayed in their seats as the group performed A Horse with No Name by America.

When Evans told the audience the band would play Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered, a 1940s song in the Rogers and Hart play Pal Joey, she gave credit to rock star Lady Gaga for popularizing that style of music with the younger generation.

“One thing I can say for Lady Gaga, she had a very cool performance of this song in Las Vegas, and has a great voice,” she said.

Later, the percussion trio entertained the crowd with a routine called Fresh Trash, using drum sticks and 30-gallon trash containers.

“This trio is one of our two percussion groups,” Evans said. “This small group along with our larger group also won ‘best of conference trophies’ at the SPVA meet Tuesday.”

The band returned to light up the room and close out the show with a high-energy rendition of Bon Jovi’s You Give Love a Bad Name.

But, they weren’t done yet. The crowd gave them a standing ovation, requested an encore and they responded with the 1971 hit Smoke on the Water by Deep Purple.

Before leaving the stage, they turned to a more serious song, officially opening the conference by playing the Star-Spangled Banner.

Evans was happy that the band was invited. “We were selected because of our successes and we enjoyed playing here.”

To be in jazz band, students must be in the concert band and be willing to practice at 7 a.m. two days a week.

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The North Platte Bulletin - Published 3/25/2017
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