From my report about the 2000 and 2002 Bix Fests in Davenport.
by Albert Haim
2000 The Concert at Graveside. The New Wolverine Orchestra, by far the best band in the Festival, was chosen to play at this venue: an excellent choice since the New Wolverines strive to preserve the exact sound of Bix's music. Trevor Rippingale mentioned that the New Wolverines are jazz musicians, and as such are improvisers. However, when it comes to playing music recorded by Bix, they try to play it note for note. I think that this is as it should be. Consider a classic composition. Every note for every instrument is written precisely. The performers bring the composition alive exactly as written. To me, Bix's records are like classic compositions and modern bands that recreate Bix's music should treat the recordings as "classic compositions" and bring them alive again by playing them note for note.The tunes played by the New Wolverines were: Singin' the Blues, I'm Coming Virginia, Davenport Blues, Waiting at the End of the Road, There Ain't No Land Like Dixieland To Me, I'll Be A Friend With Pleasure, Half Way Blues (a composition by an Australian musician), Just A Closer Walk With Thee, and The Wolverine Blues. The selections were interspaced by thoughtful commentaries from Trevor. He honored the Beiderbecke and Shoemaker family members that were present by dedicating some of the songs to them, he expressed how honored he was that the New Wolverines had been selected to play at Bix's graveside, he thanked Bix and Spiegle. Trevor and the New Wolverines were a group of gracious and highly competent musicians who respect and bring back, in an authentic manner, Bix's musical legacy.
Concert at Bix's Gravesite. In my opinion, the highlight of the Festival is the traditional concert at Bix's gravesite, in Oakdale Memorial Park. The Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Band of New Jersey started the tradition in 1971, and it has been followed each year eversince. This year, the honor of being the band at Bix's gravesite fell upon the New Wolverine Orchestra. This is a first-class group of Australian musicians led by Trevor Rippingale who describes their music as follows, "Our central focus is to celebrate the music of Bix Beiderbecke and the musicians and bands with whom he played. " Trevor plays mostly alto sax and clarinet. Geoff Power is on cornet, Robert Smith on piano, Harry Harman on bass, Strewart Binstead on guitar and banjo, Jim Elliott on trombone and Neil (Chauncey) Macbeth on drums. They play music from the Wolverines, the Trumbauer, the Goldkette and the Whiteman bands, arranged for seven instruments. Of course, the New Wolverines do a great job with the music from the smaller bands. But it is remarkable how this small group of musicians recreate very well the music of the huge Whiteman band. The New Wolverines were in Davenport for the 2000 Festival and had played at Bix's gravesite. Most of the people that I talked to who had seen the New Wolverines in their previous appearance agreed with me that the band sounds even better than they did two years ago! They played the following numbers: Davenport Blues, I'm Coming Virginia, West End Blues, I'll Be A Friend With Pleasure, Black and Tan Fantasy, There Ain't No Land Like Dixieland To Me, Blue River, Riverboat Shuffle, At the Jazz Band Ball and Jazz Me Blues. Trevor prefaced every song with some comments and historical remarks. Since the New Wolverines were doing a tribute to Bix, he included two numbers from Bix's contemporaries, Louis and Duke, as tributes that they would have like to make on behalf of Bix. It was a memorable presentation and we should all thank Trevor and the New Wolverines for their extraordinary efforts to keep Bix's music alive. Those who have never attended the tribute to Bix at gravesite cannot understand what it represents. Being near the place where Bix is buried, seeing the Beiderbecke family stones -in particular Bix's stone with floral offerings (one, a lone red rose deposited on the stone every year by Bix fan Ruediger Machwirth)- and listening to Bix's music played by an excellent group of musicians is an irreplaceable experience.
Also at the 2000 Festival:
Alann Krivor, a grand nephew of Jean Goldkette was at the Festival for his second visit and presented the Second Jean Goldkette Award to Trevor Rippindale and The New Wolverine Orchestra. The award was a conductor's baton mounted on a picture frame. Alann runs the Goldkette Foundation.