2019 NPR Tiny Desk: WJazz and Friends
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Like their eclectic song, WJazz & Friends are an eclectic group. Ward Johnston has been the high school band & choir director in Sundance, Wyoming but starts a new gig teaching music at Rapid City’s South Park Elementary this fall. Flautist Rod Garnett founded Spearfish’s gamelan ensemble. Bassist Joel Adams has a day job with Roma’s Restaurant and tours with bands like Camp Comfort. Rapid City-based singer Sophia Beatty works as a musician and waits tables. “Ky’s Tune” is their first collaboration with Beatty. Johnston says South Dakotans have an appetite for jazz. “Most community members I talk to after concerts are blown away and want to hear more. They also want to be educated about jazz, its history, and how instrumental music is created and performed. I think performing with Sophia will be a great bridge for people just learning about jazz because a vocalist makes the music that much more accessible.”