Bix Lives Here

In the summer of 1971, a group of musicians made a pilgrimage to Oakdale Cemetery in Davenport, Iowa.  They planned to play a simple concert in homage to one of the pioneers of jazz, on the fortieth anniversary of his death.

Almost two thousand people showed up at the gravesite to listen.

The Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Festival has only grown from there.

This will come as no surprise to those of us who know Bix and have heard recordings of  his compositions.   The man had a phenomenal musical memory and he used it to weave the unconventional patterns of modern classical composers—Debussy, Ravel, Holst, and Stravinsky—with his own free syncopational style.  

And how was he as a coronet player?  At a time when music was just starting to favor the soloist, Bix shone:*

The celebration kicks off tomorrow, with the 23rd annual Bix Porch Party at the Davenport Public Library on Main Street.  We’ll have hot dogs and hot music.  Bring your lawn chairs and your dancing shoes.

While you’re here, come on down to our Special Collections Center and say hello.  We’ll show you our collection of Bix Beiderbecke photographs—including one of Bix on a pony—and Memorial Jazz Festival posters.

Bix Lives!


*The singer isn’t half bad, either.

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One Response to Bix Lives Here

  1. Graham says:

    I had the pleasure of visiting the DPL Special Collections department on Monday afternoon. I was in town for a few days to see some Bix sites and to do a little genealogical digging for some relatives of mine who lived in Davenport between the 1880s and 1960s. I was impressed with your special collections department, and really appreciate all that the librarians there must do to maintain it. (I’m a library worker myself, so I have some understanding of what it’s all about!) I wish I could have stayed for Bix Fest this year (I’ve never been to one, much to my chagrin), but, since I feel that I’ve only scratched the surface of the resources that I could consult in my research, I will almost certainly be back at some point. Davenport is only a 9-hour drive from my front door, after all.

    (Oh, yes, and I did enjoy taking a look at the Bix memorabilia that you have on display!)

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