ELKHART — Terry Myers estimates he has performed at the Elkhart Jazz Festival almost 20 times.
His participation in the festival over the years, both as a solo act and with bands, is what earned him this year’s Van and Jean Young Lifetime Achievement Honor.
“Several people could have gotten that award but Terry was perfect for it this year,” said Van Young, one of the organizers of the festival. “He is keeping big band music alive.”
Myers, who plays various reeds including tenor sax, said he goes to many jazz festivals but Elkhart’s has a special place in his heart.
“I enjoy (the festival) from a spectator’s viewpoint as well as from a participant’s viewpoint,” said Myers. “I enjoy the eclectic nature of the festival. It gives me a chance to hear from a lot of guys I don’t usually hear from and I see a lot of old friends while I’m there.”
Myers lives in Orlando, Fla., but travels about four months out of the year for different performances. He’s been performing professionally for about 60 years. He’s fronting the Tommy Dorsey Band on two nationwide tours in addition to his involvement with Bill Allred’s Classic Jazz Band and some of his own bands.
One of Myers’s passions is helping kids with their music. He said the highlight of this year’s festival for him will be his performance with the Concord High School band.
“The band director sent me a CD of their recent performance and they sounded great,” said Myers. “I’m really looking forward to playing with them. It’s a lot of fun to work with young kids and try to pass on what I know in an understandable way.”
Myers has already left his home to visit family before coming to Elkhart next week. He said he’s already feeling “in the festival mode.”
“I’m ready to be there,” said Myers. “I’m looking forward to seeing everybody next week.”
Myers will be performing with Bill Allred’s Classic Jazz Band at 6 p.m. Friday, June 21, at the Civic Plaza and at 8:30 p.m. Friday at the Crystal Ballroom at the Lerner Theatre. He is also performing at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, June 22, at the Lerner Theatre and at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Knights of Columbus; and at 11 a.m. Sunday, June 23, at a to-be-announced location and at 2:30 p.m. at New Life Community Church. He will perform with the Concord High School band Saturday at 11:30 a.m. at the Lerner Theatre.
The Elkhart Jazz Festival’s 2013 schedule is available online at www.downtownelkhart.org under the arts and entertainment tab.