A Full Day of Jams at Bellson Music Fest

The second annual Bellson Music Fest honors Rock Falls’ most internationally known and accomplished musician: the world renown composer, arranger, band leader and jazz drummer Louie Bellson. He was born in Rock Falls on July 6, 1924 and passed away on Feb. 14, 2009.

The free event will be from 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 10.

Melinda Jones, director of Rock Falls Tourism and Events, says she helped to organize last year’s event to keep the drummer’s memory alive.

“We just want everyone to remember Louie. He was famous around the world, and we want to celebrate his life and music. We don’t want to forget him because he never forgot us,” she says.
The Music Fest opens with a drum clinic led by Walfredo Reyes, Jr. from 11 a.m.-noon at McCormick Event Center, 205 E. Third St.

Live bands perform outdoors beginning at noon at the RB&W District, 205 E. Second St. The lineup includes BAJA Band, playing soft pop-rock and funk, Josh Duffee & His Orchestra, playing music from the 1940s and original compositions by Bellson, jazz musicians The Mike Conrad Trio, and the Starlight Theatre Blues Band, offering smooth jazz, classic blues, Motown, southern soul and more. The Walfredo Reyes, Jr., Trio performs a variety of musical styles from 8-9:30 p.m.

As a composer and author, Bellson wrote more than 1,000 compositions and more than a dozen books. He was a six-time Grammy nominee and received the prestigious American Jazz Masters Award from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1994. He performed in most of the major capitals around the world. Along with his late wife, actress and singer Pearl Bailey, he holds the record of having the second highest number of White House appearances, behind only Bob Hope. Bellson performed on more than 200 albums, with such greats as Ella Fitzgerald and Tony Bennett.

In case of rain, the event will be held in the McCormick Event Center. Food vendors will be onsite. For more information, go to visitrockfalls.com. ❚