Juke joint jazz to come alive at Penn State Greater Allegheny Nov. 7

October 28, 2015

MCKEESPORT, Pa. — In the late 1950s, Luther Sewell spent two years in Tennessee. Sewell, now the founder and publisher of Talk Magazine in Pittsburgh, and a lifelong jazz enthusiast, talked about his experiences at the juke joints in the South.

“I remember one particular joint called "Behind the Moon." They sold fish and a beer for a dollar!” he said.

Sewell added, “They had a huge tub of lard boiling all the time. They would drop a piece of catfish in, and when it came to the top, it was done.”

Sewell enjoyed his time visiting the juke joints in the South. In addition to the delicious food, Sewell said there was always fabulous jazz music. He said sometimes there was a piano player, sometimes a blues singer, but there was always dancing. “You’d go there and eat and drink and dance — oh could they dance!” he recalled. Juke joints were always located out in the country, and often got raided by police. “My grandparents lived nearby, but they didn’t know I went to the juke joints,” he said, laughing.

Sewell explained that the juke joints were like a private club. “The African-Americans didn’t have private clubs down South back then. We went to the juke joints … they were like our private clubs.”

Sewell will get to visit a juke joint once again when he attends the 12th annual All That’s Jazz Scholarship Benefit at Penn State Greater Allegheny on Saturday, Nov. 7.

Guests will step back in time to the old South and bring juke joint jazz to life. And just like the juke joints Sewell visited in the 1950s, there will be great food, fabulous jazz music, and maybe even some dancing.

The evening's lead singer will be jazz vocalist extraordinaire Betty Shirley. Playing bass will be Dave Pellow, a returning favorite All That's Jazz performer. Composer and improvising keyboardist William "WATIV" Thompson will accompany them on piano.

Another highlight of All That’s Jazz is the silent auction. Guests can bid on prizes — from the extravagant like a trip to New Orleans — to more simple, yet equally exciting, treasures such as sports memorabilia, artwork and golf packages.

Attendees always look forward to the blue and white boxes, where participants purchase a gift box that contains a prize. Prizes include gift certificates to local restaurants and attractions, high-end audio equipment, hotel stays and more. One lucky guest will win an authentic "Return to Tiffany" bracelet. 

The White Oak Rotary Club and Gala Jewelers are the event's premier sponsors. Money raised at All That’s Jazz will benefit the student scholarship fund at Penn State Greater Allegheny. More than $825,000 has been raised in the past 11 years.

The event will begin at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 7, at the Penn State Greater Allegheny Student Community Center, 4000 University Drive in McKeesport. The public is invited to join in the festivities to help support student scholarships. Tickets are $125 each.

Information on tickets and sponsorship opportunities can be obtained by calling (412) 675-9180.

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    IMAGE: Penn State

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated October 28, 2015