“He’s the darling of the Elkhart Jazz Festival,” Four Arts program director Kate Madsen said. “Everyone loves his music.”
The concert is free for Four Arts Club members and $15 for the public at thelerner.com, by phone at 574-293-4469 and at the box office, 410 S. Main St.
Here is an excerpt of Bennett’s interview with The Elkhart Truth:
Elkhart Truth: This is the first time you’re playing a concert to preview the Elkhart Jazz Festival. What can people expect?
Bennett: "I’m bringing a three-piece band instead of the four-piece I usually have at the festival. It’s going to be quite a bit of the same music and routine that we do in our shows. A lot of times in our sets, we don’t play just straight jazz. We’ll play some gospel, some blues, boogie-woogie and even some 1950s music, like a Jerry Lee Lewis tune or something like that."
Elkhart Truth: How long have you been coming to the jazz festival?
Bennett: "Since 2003."
Elkhart Truth: How have you seen your audience change since your first performance at the festival?
Bennett: "There is more variety of people in the audience. They’re not just hardcore jazz fans, and it seems like there are some younger folks and people who like different types of music. I notice at the festival that they don’t have just traditional jazz. They have different types of music, and personally I’ve always like performing different types and I see that the crowds are really receptive to that, so personally I think it’s just as good, if not better than ever."
Elkhart Truth: As an artist, what keeps you coming back to the jazz festival?
Bennett: "I love the way it’s run, the venues are great and the people are really wonderful. They’re some of the nicest, most helpful people that work at the festival. The people are great."
Elkhart Truth: What do you like to do when you’re here in Elkhart?
Bennett: "This is going to sound kind of silly, but my drummer and I, we eat a lot when we’re in town. There’s so many great food vendors and restaurants. During the festival, we pretty much stay within the town limits, and we like to check different things out. Unfortunately, it’s not there anymore, but there was a martini bar called Stirred, and that’s a real bummer because we got to know the people there quite well."
Elkhart Truth: What are you up to now?
Bennett: "I’ve been on the road quite a bit. Right now, I’m in home in Michigan, but next weekend, I’ll be in New Mexico and during Memorial Day weekend, I’ll be performing at the Sacramento Music Festival. I have another band called the Memphis Boys. I play piano in that group, and that’s all music of Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry and all that stuff, so that is something I’ve been really looking forward to because you can just get really crazy, do the 1950s thing and it’s a lot of fun. I’ve been blessed to be able to do different types of music, and it keeps it interesting."
Follow Elkhart Truth reporter Angelle Barbazon on Twitter at @tweetangelle.