Copyright 2017 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.


This is FRESH AIR. Fifty years ago this month, singer-songwriter Bobbie Gentry released this song "Ode To Billie Joe," her enigmatic slice of life in rural Mississippi.

It's somehow fitting that a biography of Sarah Vaughan would emerge during the centennial of Ella Fitzgerald. That's been Vaughan's story from the get go. The brilliance of her instrument was, is and ever shall be compared to Fitzgerald's — the First Lady of Song, the darling of rhythm, the swinging-est singer on record.

Daniel D. Baumer

From a retro celebration on the west side, to hot jazz, to a fully air-conditioned musical,  there's plenty to do in the Alamo City this weekend.

First off tonight--the Guadalupe Theater looks good for its age, but let's face it: it's turning 75.  Executive Director Christina Balli explains on how they're marking its birthday.

Robert Merrill

A long-running jazz festival kicks off later this week.  It’s the Balcones Heights Jazz Festival.  And Q101.9's David Munoz says the quality of musicians is quite high.

"We bring in world class jazz artists. Basically smooth jazz. We've had a couple of straight-ahead, but mainly smooth jazz.  We have 2500-3000 people out there on each of the Fridays. This year of course it's going to be all four Fridays in July."  

Kevin Nguyen

A band is coming to the Pearl's Jazz, TX on Thursday night and the band members may not be what you'd expect for their style of music. They're called the Dirty River Dixie Band, and co-founder Chris Alvarado explains their music.

"We play tunes that are pre-1940s. Jazz, kinda Louis Armstrong and Jellyroll Morton and all kinds of other stuff."

Most bands that have this kind of retro focus tend to be older. Not so with Dirty River.