The holiday season is rapidly approaching, and there’s no better way to immerse yourself in the Christmas spirit than by indulging in an unforgettable evening of music and merriment. Mark your calendars for Saturday, December 2, when the Jazzed Up Big Band, under the guidance of managing director Rick Ayres, takes center stage. The group will present a Big Band holiday show that Ayres said promises to be nothing short of spectacular. From timeless classics like “Jingle Bells” and “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” to beloved carols like “Joy to the World” and “We Three Kings,” the audience will be transported to a world of musical delight.
Now in its fifth annual installment, Jazzed Up Christmas guarantees an enchanting evening that commences at 7 p.m. The venue for this enchanting performance is none other than the Roof Garden Ballroom in Arnolds Park.
Rick Ayres, trombonist and managing director of the Jazzed Up Big Band, shares his excitement for this grand event: “We are genuinely thrilled to present Jazzed Up Christmas again this year. We appreciate the opportunity to put on this show, especially for an audience that shares our profound appreciation for the magic of Big Band music.”
Anyone stepping into the Roof Garden will be welcomed by festive Christmas decorations, creating the perfect backdrop for the elegantly attired Jazzed Up Big Band. The visual spectacle, combined with their world-class musical performance, guarantees an unforgettable experience that will have guests brimming with holiday spirit.
Love of Music
Rick Ayres, a dedicated musician for over 55 years, embarked on his musical journey with piano lessons as a young child. His musical passion led him to major in euphonium at the University of South Dakota, picking up the trombone his second year, which has been his faithful companion ever since.
“I felt like there were more opportunities to perform with a trombone, and I haven’t stopped playing since,” Rick shared.
Over the years, he forged deep musical connections with friends like Ken Hoyne, Dan Cassady, and Mike Wells, musicians he’s been playing with for over 45 years. In the late 1980s, he co-founded the Swing Machine Orchestra with Greg Twombley, a pivotal moment that opened doors to numerous other Big Band and combo opportunities.
Rick managed the Dick Bauman Big Band for 18 years before embarking on a new journey with Jazzed Up Big Band in 2014. Comprising both friends and other professional musicians, this ensemble unites talents from diverse backgrounds, driven by their sheer love for playing this unique style of music.
College band instructors and professional musicians make up the 16 members in the Jazzed Up Big Band, coming from various locations, including Vermillion, Sioux Falls, Sioux City, Brookings, Worthington, Fort Dodge, Storm Lake, and Omaha.
Rick emphasizes their dedication, stating, “They are willing to drive this far to be part of this truly exceptional band. We have a blast performing together, and I feel blessed to share the stage with these incredibly talented musicians.”
During the summer months, Jazzed Up Big Band serenades audiences on Tuesday nights in the Roof Garden Ballroom with an array of big band swing and Latin arrangements. They delve into classics from the 1950s through the 1970s and contemporary hits from groups and arrangers like the Gordon Goodwin Big Phat Band, Phil Kelly, Roger Neumann, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, and others.
“It’s remarkable that this area boasts not just one but two remarkable Big Bands,” he said. The Dick Bauman Big Band performs at the Pearson Lakes Art Center on Monday nights in the summer.
Jazzed Up Christmas
This year’s Jazzed Up Christmas promises a one-of-a-kind musical experience. According to Rick, the show will transport guests to the ambiance of a nightclub Christmas Show in Las Vegas or a timeless, old-fashioned Christmas Show. The performance features vocalists and a captivating Big Band.
Special thanks to Ken Hoyne for helping launch the first Jazzed Up Christmas show, which took place at the Washington Pavilion in 2018. After a successful run, they brought it to the Pavilion in Arnolds Park and made the Roof Garden Ballroom their local home when it opened.
The musical lineup features a diverse range of songs, from Michael Bublé’s “Let It Snow, Let It Snow” and Andy Williams’ “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” to Tom Kubis’ “God Rest Ye Merry Trombones” and Carl Anderson GRP’s rendition of “O Holy Night.” While many of these melodies will be familiar, Ayres and the band always strive to introduce five or six new pieces each year, keeping the experience fresh and exciting.
In addition to the 16 musicians in the Jazzed Up Big Band, the show’s vocalists include Shawn Cable, a returning favorite who has graced the stage for five years and is an Emmy® award-winning Chief Meteorologist at KEYC in Mankato. Joining him is Kate Wismer, Miss South Dakota 2007 and a seasoned stage performer with a stellar track record in musicals nationwide.
Prepare to embark on a musical journey that will kindle your holiday spirit and leave you with cherished memories that last a lifetime. Jazzed Up Christmas 2023 is a must-attend event for music enthusiasts and holiday lovers alike!
Meet the Band
Owner of Lakes Marketing and Print in Spirit Lake and Managing Director of Jazzed Up Big Band.
Retired - Chief Financial Officer at First Dakota Title.
Dan Cassady was a high school and community college band director in Iowa for 38 years. He directed band programs at Graettinger Community School, Fort Dodge Senior High School, Iowa Central Community College and St. Edmond High School. He is credited with building the award-winning jazz program at St. Edmond. As a trombonist, Dan has performed many area bands. He plays with the Jive For Five Brass Quintet, Karl King Municipal Band, Dick Bauman Big Band, Jazzed Up Big Band, and Lone Tree Revival. Dan and his wife, Lori have two sons, one daughter, and a granddaughter.
Electrician at Frisbees Plumbing, Heating, A/C & Electrical.
Shawn is an Emmy® award-winning Chief Meteorologist at KEYC in Mankato.
Kate was Milly in the Seven Brides for Seven Brothers national tour and has played Nellie Forbush at several regional theaters. Emmy-winning choreographer Al Blackstone notably directed her in a production of Annie where she shared the stage with Broadway's original Annie, Andrea McArdle, as Miss Hannigan. Kate grew up in Britton, SD, and serves as the artistic director of The Northern Fort Playhouse and director and producer of the Miss South Dakota and Miss South Dakota's Teen competition every year. She sings lead with the Union Cattle Band and enjoys relaxing at the lake with her family and Pepper the Chocolate Lab.
Christopher "C.T." Kocher
Dr. Christopher J. Kocher is Professor of Saxophone and Jazz Studies at the University of South Dakota, where he has taught since 1999. Kocher, who is active as both a performer and educator, has an extensive background in both classical and jazz saxophone. Kocher has premiered new works at World Saxophone Congresses and other North American Saxophone Alliance events. As a jazz performer, he regularly plays with his own quartet, the Okoboji Jazzed Up Big Band, USD Faculty Jazz, and others.
Dr. Brian Hanegan is an associate professor and director of jazz studies at the Augustana University School of Music in Sioux Falls. He began his professional career as the saxophonist in a summer revue show at Valleyfair Amusement Park in Minneapolis, Minnesota (2006-08). From there, Hanegan toured internationally with Carnival Cruise Lines as a multiple woodwind artist in a 7-piece show orchestra. He is actively performing across the Midwest in a variety of ensembles.
Freelance flautist, Clarinetist and Saxophonist. A former member of the Glenn Miller Orchestra, Dennis has been in Omaha for the last 25 years playing in all venues from Cover bands to Big Bands.
Agency Owner at Ryan Hofer Agency, Horace Mann.
Dr. Erik Mahon is Assistant Professor of Music and Director of Jazz Studies at Morningside University. Under his leadership, the jazz studies area at Morningside has continued to be a regional resource for high school students and directors alike. As a performer, Dr. Mahon has traveled throughout the United States and China, as well as recent performances at some of Europe’s most prominent jazz festivals. He plays lead trumpet for the Jazzed Up! Big Band that headlines the Roof Garden at Arnold’s Park throughout the summer months. Dr. Mahon is active around the Midwest as a clinician, adjudicator, and educator.
Jim Speirs is Executive Director of Arts South Dakota, the arts education, service and advocacy organization for arts supporters, artists and arts groups across the state. Jim is an experienced arts administrator and a working musician. He is a founding member of the Dakota Jazz Collective, the touring program of Sioux Falls Jazz and Blues, and a trumpet player in a number of South Dakota musical ensembles.
Mike began working at the Storm Lake Midbell Music in 1980, managing the repair department for 19 years before moving to his Educational Service Representative position at Ray’s Midbell Music in Sioux City. Upon retirement in 2019, Mike had 39 years of service to the Siouxland music community! Mike has played in many regional dance bands including Tuxedo Junction, Jazzed Up Big Band, Dick Bauman Big Band, and others.
Welder, carpenter, and freelance trumpeter.
Retired Owner Western Cherokee Mutual Insurance and lifelong musician
Retired band teacher after 42 years. Currently Principal Tuba with the South Dakota Symphony and Sioux City Symphony.
Dr. Darin Wadley is the Director of Percussion Studies and Associate Professor of Music at The University of South Dakota. An active performer, Darin is principal timpanist with the Sioux City Symphony Orchestra and performs regularly with other regional orchestras as both timpanist and percussionist.