The Dixieland tunes are flowing over the Mississippi River this weekend in Davenport. The annual Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Festival kicked off last (Thursday) night and continues through Sunday. The festival is named for Leon “Bix” Beiderbecke, who was born in Davenport and was considered one of the greatest jazz coronet players of the 1920s. He died in 1931 during an alcoholic seizure at age 28. Jim Arpy writes and edits the highly-acclaimed Bix newsletters and festival program, and has uncovered some strange Bix-related stories. One dealt with two young children, Bix relatives, who died of cholera around the year 19-hundred and were buried in the yard of a Davenport house. Arpy says the current residents claim they’ve been seeing the ghosts of the children in the house, playing with toys. Another festival-goer is Joe Lynch of Ankeny. Calling himself Jazzman Joe, Lynch says he’s attended all of the Bix Jazz fests — except the first one back in 1972. Lynch says he didn’t know about it and was instead visiting a jazz museum in New Orleans. This year’s fest features a big name in the jazz world, according to Ray Voss, president of the Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Society. Voss says Randy Sandke of the New York All Stars will perform tonight, taking the festival to a new level. The first outdoor concert is noon to five today on the riverfront. The shows started last night, indoors, at the Col (call) Ballroom in downtown Davenport.
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