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Look around you anywhere Dixieland jazz is being played. What is the average age of the audience and the musicians? Is it not clear that if Dixieland jazz is to thrive for another 100 years, we must encourage young musicians to play Dixieland and young audiences to listen to Dixieland?
Passing the Torch
Every summer Camp Heebie Jeebies convenes on the shores of Lake Crescent in western Washington. For one week veteran Dixieland players work with young musicians passing on to them the lore of traditional jazz as it has been played since the turn of the century. This is one of many summer camps where the torch is being passed to the next generation of Dixieland musicians. The VDJS Youth Music Program identifies young jazz musicians interested in learning to play in the Dixieland style and provides full scholarships for them to attend the week long camp.

Youth Music Mosaic
In the summer of 1994 the Vancouver Dixieland Jazz Society embarked on an ambitious program when it sent trumpet player Dustin Matheson of Mission to the Sacramento Trad Jazz Camp, the first student from outside continental USA to attend the camp. Each summer since then we have sent one or more students to camp: trumpeter Danny Sung of Vancouver, percussionist Geoff Bowers of Courtenay, vocalist Carly Jepsen of Mission, trumpeter Bria Skonberg of Chilliwack, trumpeter Darryl Hol of White Rock, bassist Everett Jelley of White Rock and reed man Evan Arntzen of Vancouver. Since 2000 every member but one of the now famous Big Bang Jazz Band (51st Eight) have attended camp sponsored by the VDJS. In fact, the 51st Eight was the first Canadian youth band to perform at the Sacramento Jazz Jubilee (2001), thanks largely to the contacts made by Bria when she attended camp in 2000.

In the summer of 2008 the Vancouver Dixieland Jazz Society set a personal best by sending 12 students to Camp Heebie Jeebies. We did this with the help of many:
  • The White Rock Traditional Jazz Society funded three students
  • Pat & Ken Hanson funded two students
  • The Jazz in the Olympics Society funded two students
  • Bruce Boxall, a VDJS member, personally funded one student
  • The VDJS, funded the balance with money raised through its youth raffles.

The program is working! The 51st eight, now 11 years old, morphed into the Big Bang Jazz Band on their tenth birthday. The Dixie 9 are going strong and recently adopted a new name, the Stompin' Hot Jazz Band. The Back Alley Strutters, recently graduated from the Chilliwack Secondary School program, are currently a work in progress with great promise. The current "official" youth band in the program is the Front Porch Swingers, the Dixieland band at Chilliwack Secondary. At a full day workshop in March of 2009, Bria Skonberg described them as the group with the most potential yet!

Band pictureGary Raddysh

At the 2006 Vancouver DixieFest Gary Raddysh was presented with a VDJS Friend of Jazz Award for his work developing both the 51st Eight and the Dixie 9.

We would like to recognize the contribution made to our program by Ken and Pat Hanson of Castle Rock, WA. In each of the past 11 years Ken and Pat have donated most of the prizes for our Youth Raffles used to raise money in support of our program. In each of the past three years, they have also donated two scholarships providing tuition for two of our students to attend camp each year. Through their generous support, and that of the thousands who have purchased raffle tickets and made donations to the program, the VDJS is hopeful that the torch will indeed be passed to a new generation of Dixieland musicians and fans.

Tax deductible donations in support of the program can be mailed to VDJS, 3205 Hoskins Rd., North Vancouver, BC V7J 3B5 (download donation form). To print the form you will need Adobe's free Acrobat Reader.

All Canadian donors receive a tax receipt at the end of the year.

For more information or to be placed on our mailing list, send us an email

The Vancouver Dixieland Jazz Society
3205 Hoskins Rd.
North Vancouver, BC V7J 3B5

Telephone: 604-987-5966

This document was last modified on April 4, 2016