Estes Park Trail Gazette – Things to get swingin’ at Performance Park


Lisa VonBargen is a self-proclaimed band geek.

She played the trumpet while in high school back in Lincoln, Nebraska and then continued to play in college at the University of Nebraska. But then her horn got stashed away in a close and started collecting dust.

“After college, the horn gets stuck in the case and you get married and have kids,” she said.

These days, she keeps her horn nice and polished and performs with the Estes Park Village Band and the Estes Park Big Jazz Band. VonBargen, president of Big Band Bash Inc., wants to keep Estes Park High School students excited about playing music as well.

That’s why, five years ago, VonBargen, John Mills and Chuck Varilek decided to host the Big Band Bash in Estes Park and have proceeds benefit the EPHS band programs. Mills had the idea for a big band/jazz festival six years ago, according to VonBargen.

He called it the Greeley Jazz Festival and held it at St. Michael’s amphitheater in Greeley as a benefit for the Weld County Food Bank. However, the event was unsuccesful and the decision to move it to Estes was made, VonBargen added.

The 2015 Big Band Bash hits the Performance Park stage this Saturday and Sunday with a full schedule of performances starting at 12:45 p.m. each day.

Since the first Estes event five years ago, Big Band Bash has gained the sponsorship of the Town of Estes Park, become a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and has expanded to a two-day format, VonBargen said.

Prior to the organization becoming nonprofit, and before the 2012 flood, previous events raised around $6,000, according to VonBargen.

“The Town of Estes Park is a very generous sponsor for us,” she added. “All money onsite goes straight to the band kids, as well as sponsorship money.”

Money raised goes toward paying percussion instructors, instruments, instrument repair and food for band trips, just to name a few things, VonBargen said.

“If we didn’t have a band booster organization, in addition to fundraisers, it would be really tough for the program to continue,” she added.

Headlining Saturday night’s schedule is Temple Jazz Orchestra from Texas. The group is traveling on a grant and bringing along special guest saxophonist Ed Calle.

Calle appears on Grammy-award-winning albums by Frank Sinatra, Vicky Carr, Arturo Sandoval and Jon Secada, as well as on numerous television and motion picture soundtracks, according to VonBargen.

He also has recorded and performed with such artists as Gloria Estefan, Julio Iglesias, Michael Bolton, Bob James, Bobby Caldwell, Rihanna, Extreme and Vanessa Williams. Among his many solo recordings, “Ed Calle Plays Santana” garnered a Latin Grammy Award nomination in 2005. His latest release “In the Zone” (2006) features original compositions and jazz standards and earned a Latin Grammy nomination in 2007.

Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra with special guest vocalist Becky Martin will headline Sunday’s event.

“They’re professional musicians that do it really cheap for us, because they are also a nonprofit dedicated to music education,” VonBargen said.

Big Band Bash is a free concert thanks to the Town of Estes Park’s continued support. The organization would also like to thank its generous sponsors: Best Western Plus Silver Saddle, the Bank of Estes Park, Comfort Inn, Colorado Homestead, Flash Electric, the Fine Arts Guild, Eagle Rock School, the Rotary Club and KUVO Jazz Radio 89.3 FM.

The event will feature a cash bar available, and Estes Park High School band students will sell popcorn and water.

“Our crowd is primarily people who are here already. That’s part of our goal, to create events that not only benefit our high school kids, but benefit motels and restaurants as well,” VonBargen said. “It creates a lot of goodwill to put on things like this.”

VonBargen would also like to thank the musicians whose talent, support and generosity make this event possible.

“For some gas money and a barbecue, they are performing to help increase funding for the Estes Park High School instrumental music program,” she said. “We couldn’t do it without your support and appreciate you very much.”

Big Band Bash 2015 lineup

Saturday, June 13

12:45 p.m. Mile High Wind Machine

2 p.m. Big Range Front Band

3:15 p.m. Blue 88’s

4:30 p.m. Kream of the Krop

5:45 p.m. Don Elwood Orchestra

7 p.m. Temple Jazz Orchestra with special guest saxophonist Ed Calle

Sunday, June 14

12:45 p.m. Estes Park Jazz Big Band

2 p.m. Flatirons Jazz Orchestra

3:15 p.m. Colorado Jazz Workshop

4:30 p.m. Just for Kicks

5:45 p.m. John Mills Orchestra with special guest vocalist Heidi Schmidt

7 p.m. Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra with special guest vocalist Becky Martin