Local music celebrities
embark on a new endeavor
After playing together at Aquafest and other local taverns, band members Bob Richter, Larry Knodel, Jimmy Young, Gordy “T-bone” Taylor, Kenny Heitman and Denny Blankenship realized that they were playing a lot of old songs from the 1920’s and 30’s which originated from Chicago and New Orleans, the heart of Dixieland music.
With that in mind members of the horn section decided to form a new band and call themselves the “Snag Rag Dixieland Jazz Band”.
“We’re playing all these old Dixie songs anyway, we decided to form a Dixieland group,” said Denny Blankenship, trumpet player and songwriter.
Their sound is not the traditional Jazz band sound, which includes a clarinet. They have replaced the clarinet with a second trumpet that has created a balanced chordal brass choir.
“Our style of high powered, brassy syncopation with driving banjo chord lines is what we call 21st century Dixie,” Blankenship said.
The band members have all had their share of fame playing in bands including Santana, Duffy Bishop and Tower of Power. They all hail from Lake Stevens and the surrounding area except for Blankenship who grew up in Sacramento and decided he was sick of the heat and wanted to move north.
“We were all friends in the music business year’s ago in the Bay area before making it to fame, “ Blankenship said.
The band members found their way back to Western Washington and also found themselves playing together, creating new sounds and enjoying every minute of it.
After the Snag Rag Dixieland Jazz Band debuted last May at Piccadilly Circus restaurant in Snohomish to a standing room only crowd, they knew they had hit pay dirt with their new sound.
“They all stayed, nobody left and at the end of the night and four encores later they gave us a five minute standing ovation”, band members said,
Their music has hit a chord with music lovers of all ages who flock to see them perform.
“A lot of the old timers that come in are amazed at the amount of younger kids and couples in their 20’s that are clapping their hands and tapping their toes to this relatively new music to them, not mentioning the teenagers outside listening and doing the same,” Blankenship said.
The band is still attached to the Sauerkraut Band, which is a charitable organization but when they aren’t playing “kraut gigs” they are completely in their element with their updated Dixieland sounds.
The Snag Rag Dixieland Jazz band is getting ready to cut their first CD entitled “Hot Blooded Dixie”.
They will be performing at Doc’s Tavern in Machias, April 28 and Piccadilly Circus restaurant in Snohomish, May 5.