Jazz Band offers a Jump Start to annual Eggplant Festival

Local group just one of many to entertain at Oct. 2 festival
By: Martha Garcia, Loomis News Editor
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In addition to food and fun, the Loomis Eggplant Festival will be packed with entertainment throughout the day on Saturday, Oct. 2. The Loomis Basin Chamber of Commerce, the event sponsor, has even added a third stage — The Purple Reign stage — next to the Blue Goose Corn Maze. The Main Stage takes advantage of the shade provided by the Loomis Depot, and the Wine Garden Jazz Stage will be located next to the wine-tasting area. One of the audience favorites over the past dozen years has been the Jump Start Jazz Band, comprised of musicians in the adult jazz class and their teacher, Greg McLaughlin, co-owner of McLaughlin’s Studio. Nancie McLaughlin co-owns the studio with her husband and arranges entertainment for the Eggplant Festival. Greg, she said, is also the head of the music department at Sierra College, where he teaches jazz band, vocal jazz classes, wind symphony, woodwind ensemble, jazz history class, and music appreciation and piano. She said that in order for Jump Start to deliver its smooth but upbeat, swing-jazz sound, the band rehearses at the studio Wednesday evenings, year round. Band members include McLaughlin, Mike Rossitto and Rich Magill on saxophone, pianist Bea Pearson, bassist Tom Wilson, Charlie Moreno on drums, and trumpet player Randy Hansen. Hansen said performing with the band has become his creative outlet. “I enjoy the audience and the band members. I invited the group to play at the Loomis Fruit Growers 100th anniversary celebration in May 2001, and I was invited to join the band. I hadn’t played my trumpet for 30 years before that, but now I get to play music every week,” Hansen said. Hansen also extended an invitation to local musicians to join the group. "We could use more members," Hansen said. "We're interested in hearing from all adults, of all ages, and who play any instrument." Kelsey Bolstad, McLaughlin Studio receptionist, said she has noticed that Jump Start players have a lot of fun, “They come here early … They really enjoy playing with each other. It shows in their music, because they sound really enthusiastic,” Bolstad said. The 21-year-old is also a fan of the band’s music. “I like that it’s upbeat and I like that it’s never the same because they improvise on it,” she said. In addition to playing at the Eggplant Festival, Jump Start performs at other community and charity events including the Soroptimist wine tasting, Mandarin Festival, and benefits at Sierra College. Jump Start Jazz plays in the Wine Garden Jazz Stage from 2 to 3 p.m. Music starts at 10:45 a.m. with the sound of the Sierra College Jazz Voices & Combo, a student group, followed by the McLaughlin Studio Jazz Cats, the McLaughlin Studios Faculty Group, and the Betty Asher Woodwind Quintet. Main Stage entertainment begins at 8:45 a.m. with opening ceremonies featuring the Del Oro High School Band. Dancers, singers, musicians, and performers fill out the day’s entertainment play list. The Purple Reign Stage will be the site of The Little Sprout Fashion Show at 11:15 a.m. From 2 to 5 p.m., the Stephen Charles Band delivers toe-tapping entertainment through top-charted cover songs and their own popular rocking country songs. Kids will have a good time, too. In addition to the fashion show, they can enter the Egganopolis 500 pine derby, join a scavenger hunt, make free arts and crafts, visit the petting zoo, ride the tea cups and quad jumper, and take in the Blue Goose corn maze. Exploring all the good things to eat is also good way to spend the day. Start out with a pancake breakfast served by the Loomis Firefighters Association in the firehouse, just a few steps away from the festival site. Then, visit all the food vendors who are offering a variety of eggplant dishes as well as traditional festival food and drink. And don’t forget to pick up fresh eggplant and other local produce at the farmers market. Adults can visit the Wine Garden to taste award-winning vintages from Placer County growers and vintners, or they can stop by the Margarita bar for a tasty drink. Those who enjoy fine arts and crafts shouldn’t miss the Avenue of Art, or the many booths filled with other handcrafted items. Get your Eggplant gear and souvenirs at the chamber’s Little House of Eggplant. You can also stop at booths where local businesses and organization will display their products. Some exhibitors will offer information and give samples and gifts. A “gift” everyone will get from the Loomis Chamber is free admission to the festival and free parking.