Blue Street Jazz Band
2015 marks the 32nd anniversary of the Blue Street Jazz Band., a true force of integrity, stability, and professionalism on the Dixieland jazz circuit. Founded in 1983 by trumpet player Forrest Helmick and currently under the leadership of trombonist Dave Ruffner, the band has been one of the most innovative groups in traditional jazz. Original songs and creatively conceived arrangements have been the hallmark of the band along with the musical expertise displayed by each individual member on their respective instrument. The band features the singing of Sherri Colby. While traditional jazz is the cornerstone on which the band was built, the band earned the reputation as “The Bad Boys of Dixieland” for their eclectic tastes in music. At any given Blue Street performance the audience is liable to hear various styles of music including swing, Mardi Gras, folk songs, marches, waltzes, Latin music, and hymns. The band is capable of playing entire sets devoted to the music of Kid Ory, Jelly Roll Morton, Sidney Bechet, the History of Jazz, and Louis Armstrong. Audiences particularly enjoy the band’s Sunday morning gospel programs.
The Blue Street Jazz Band has three teachers in the band. They are Rick Canfield and Forrest Helmick, both elementary school music teachers and Dr. Sherri Colby-Bottel, who teaches Anthropology at California State University at Fresno. Sherri’s husband, Matt, makes computer programs for his day job.
The band has four working musicians: Pianist Jason Wanner is a regular on the jazz circuit and performs at Disneyland. Reed player Nathan Ketner tours and performs at Disneyland in the Los Angeles area. Bassist Sam Rocha plays with various groups in the Bay area including the prestigious Hot Club of San Francisco. Former High School Band Director Dave Ruffner lives in New Orleans and performs daily at various clubs on Bourbon Street.
For the past twenty-five years the band has played every major jazz festival in the United States and has performed in Canada, Mexico, and Europe as well. The band has recorded twenty-three albums.
Dave Ruffner – Trombone
Forrest Helmick – Trumpet
Rick Canfield – Drums
Sherri Colby – Vocalist
Nathan Ketner – Reeds
Jason Wanner – Piano
Matt Bottel-Banjo, Guitar
Sam Rocha – String Bass and Tuba