The Blue Ox Jazz Babies brought their Southern music to the north when they shared their jazzy tunes Tuesday in the Centennial Student Union on the campus of Minnesota State University, Mankato.
While this wasn’t the group’s first visit to the campus, it certainly was a first-time experience for many students gathered around the “Old Abe” statue at the Lincoln Lounge.
Known all across southern Minnesota due to their distinct sound, the Blue Ox Jazz Babies started their featured performance strong, playing an unmistakably Southern, jazzy melody.
Manning a custom washboard that sported a Ford Motor Company logo was Tom Owens. He was joined by Debbie Schreyer on the banjo. Owens and Schreyer are actually married, and their chemistry while playing is rather remarkable.
Just as the banjo compliments the washboard, the band is beautifully anchored through the tuba, with support from the trombone. In fact, that is one of the features of the band that creates the unique, upbeat fusion of sounds from the south and the north.
Taking a walk through the hallways of the CSU felt akin to what it probably would’ve felt like walking through the streets of New Orleans during the mid 60s. It was as if someone had turned the clock back. To describe the Blue Ox Jazz Babies best would be to say it was as if one was listening to a melody accompanied by a section playing for Louis Armstrong.
Perhaps the most distinct difference would be the band’s Midwestern influence on their performances, being more upbeat than relaxing at moments.
While the Lincoln Lounge isn’t fitted with acoustic speakers, or structured like an auditorium, the music resonated within the hallway like aged wine flowing through a cask’s tap. And that is a testament to the Blue Ox Jazz Babies’ music. Their music has burgeoned beautifully over time, and what we heard is quite possibly the best they have ever sounded.
The CSU Serendipity Music Series brought in yet another local act that not only performed for the jazz aficionados, but also for those who might not have come across the beautifully elegant genre of jazz music.
Header photo by John Shrestha | MSU Reporter.