Jazz Central festival helps locals hang on to mining history through music

Graham Jaehnig/Daily Mining Gazette Mike Irish and Uncle Pete’s All-Star Barbecue Band warm up to please the crowd Friday night at the third annual Jazz Central.

CENTRAL MINE — The third annual Jazz Central music festival drew an impressive crowd Friday in spite of a cool and wet day. Jim Vivian, Keweenaw County Historical Society member and Jazz Central organizer, said that people came out to support the event, ignoring the October-like weather.

Michael Cooper, fellow historical member, was also pleased with the turnout, as well as the event.

“I’m glad to see people coming out and listening to this kind of music,” Cooper said, “and I’m glad that people are beginning to truly appreciate what we have here. People have always appreciated it, but it’s a little piece of the Keweenaw history that we’re trying to hang on to.”

Cooper said that when grade school students visit Central on field trips, parents often accompany the children and remark to him that they did not know Central existed.

“So, part of the mission of the historical society is to disseminate, as well as to document and discover and preserve,” Cooper said. He added it would be nice to get some of the theater groups to put on reenacting events at Central.

Although the event is called Jazz Central, there was an impressive array of music genres, ranging from Glenn Miller tunes to 1950s rock-n-roll, and, of course, jazz.

The bands included Denny McKaig and the Bluffs Orchestra, Mike Irish and Uncle Pete’s All-Star Barbecue Blues Band and Randy Seppala and U.P. Gumbo.

Cooper said organizers begin making phone calls in January to begin organizing the August fundraiser, lining up bands, reserving tent rentals and the other tasks necessary to putting on an event like this.

In addition to the music lineup, there was a silent auction, a 50/50 raffle and food catered by Fitzgerald’s restaurant of Eagle River.

The purpose of Jazz Central is to raise funds dedicated to Central Mine preservation projects, such as restoring dilapidated houses as just one example.