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Archive for Saturday, October 10, 1992

October 10, 1992

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Their name may have the word "junkyard'' in it, but they usually play in much posher venues.

The Junkyard Jazz Band, now in its 12th year, is a group of between six and 12 musicians who gather frequently to play classic jazz. They've been known to play Thursday nights at the Elks Lodge, 1820 W. Sixth, as well as the Lawrence Holidome, 200 McDonald Dr., and other assorted places.

"We play primarily classic jazz, Dixieland or blues,'' said John Weatherwax, leader of the band and Lawrence resident. "I say it's music of the '90s, but we're talking the 1890s. We don't play anything since 1950. We play some things that were popular with the big bands in the '30s and '40s, but basically we play a style of Dixieland jazz that's called classic jazz among musicians, as opposed to be-bop or rock.''

Weatherwax, a trombonist, draws his musical talent from Lawrence, Ottawa and Kansas City. The band's size depends on where it's playing and how many people can show up.

"We have kind of an informal organization,'' he said. "We usually have six to seven people playing, and as many as 12 different people can get there some nights.

"When we play parades, we usually put eight to 10 on the parade float. We had 10 of us playing at the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce mixer last month.''

Weatherwax, a certified public accountant and former Lawrence mayor, said he picked up the trombone in junior high school and went on to play in jazz bands at Kansas University during the late 1930s and early 1940s. One of his fellow musicians, Clyde Bysom, played with him from his KU days 54 years ago until the present.

"He and I played a lot together over the years,'' Weatherwax said. "There were several people like that who were in big bands in the mid-'30s and are still around here. A lot of us played together over the years.''

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