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28th Annual Tribute to Bix

Phil Pospychala
A poster for this weekend's festival in Racine, Wisconsin
Credit Phil Pospychala
One of the featured bands this weekend - Tuba Skinny, from New Orleans.

If you just can't wait until July to hear live, traditional jazz music, you should travel to southeast Wisconsin this weekend. The 28th annual Tribute to Bix Beiderbecke is being held Thursday through Sunday.  

The founder and still organizer is Phil Pospychala who says he first heard Bix when he was a teenager.

"Once I heard Bix's tone, I just could not imagine listening to anything else. Then when you hear his rhythmic and harmonic influence on everybody and what a giant he was."

He first came up with the idea for the Bix tribute while traveling home from a jazz festival in Saint Louis in the late 80's. It started in 1990, and there have been big crowds ever since, including more and more young people.

Pospychala says he send flyers to libraries, newspapers, and radio and tv stations. And he even targets empty newspaper boxes in downtown Chicago every year too.

"I go and spend one afternoon - it takes 4 to 5 hours - and go  up and down every street in the Loop and out on Michigan Avenue. I try to put one flyer in the window and put the other flyers inside."

His festival also includes a record playing room where the serious collectors gather after the Friday night concert.

"We play old original issue 78's, just the good stuff from the 20's and early 30's We have such a good time, it lasts until dawn."

The 28th Annual Tribute to Bix in Racine is being held in the Delta Hotel, formerly the Marriott. More information is at bixfest.com.

A native of Detroit, Herb Trix began his radio career as a country-western disc jockey in Roswell, New Mexico (“KRSY, your superkicker in the Pecos Valley”), in 1978. After a stint at an oldies station in Topeka, Kansas (imagine getting paid to play “Louie Louie” and “Great Balls of Fire”), he wormed his way into news, first in Topeka, and then in Freeport Illinois.