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  • Musicians jump from venue to venue all weekend long for the annual Medford Jazz Festival

  • If everything you know about Dixieland jazz can fit into a broken shot glass, then you're in luck.
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  • If everything you know about Dixieland jazz can fit into a broken shot glass, then you're in luck.
    The Medford Jazz Festival's Friday line-ups blew the lid open on vintage American music, with sounds dredged from the 1920s-era Louisiana bayou all the way to the Los Angeles glitz of David Lee Roth.
    Actually, Roth earned one of his biggest hits from the father of the woman who strutted across the stage at Kids Unlimited Friday night.
    Even if you don't know his name, you've surely heard his tunes.
    "I love my dad's music and so does everyone else," Lena Prima said, minutes after he set. "I'll never get tired of playing it."
    Louis Prima is the New Orleans legend who penned songs such as "Sing, Sing, Sing" and "A Sunday Kind of Love."
    He also gave voice to King Louise in Disney's "The Jungle Book," which Lena Prima featured during her set Friday night.
    Lena Prima, the daughter of Louis Prima, dug deep into her father's playlist. And she was sure to perform "Just a Gigolo," which is one of her father's most covered songs. Roth, he of Van Halen fame, rode it to the top of the Billboard charts in 1988.
    The crowed grooved on the dance floor and at their tables as Prima crooned "I Wanna Be Like You," one of the more memorable songs from "The Jungle Book,"
    Prima worked the crowd throughout her set, cracking jokes and paying tribute to her father's work, while finding time to include songs of her own.
    Afterward, she signed autographs in the back of the venue. She related a story about meeting Roth at the time he decided to cover her father's song.
    "He was cool," she said. "He didn't change the song at all. He figured if something isn't broke, don't fix it."
    Meanwhile, the Cajun-spiced rumble of Gator Beat echoed through the Kids Unlimited gym just down the hall from Prima's set.
    Gator Beat's thumping, muddy sounds were enough to get the dance floor busy.
    Washboard player Willard Blackwell, who had just finished an energetic set at the Medford Elk's Lodge said the local celebration of jazz has come a long way since he began playing it in 1995.
    "They've changed it up since it was mostly Dixieland," Blackwell said. "They still play to the jazz fans, but now have the Cajun and swing music for the younger folks."
    Blackwell said the festival is one of the more musician-friendly gigs he plays every year.
    "They shuttle you to each venue," he said. "You don't find too many places that do that anymore."
    Gator Beat broke down their equipment at the Elks and burned down Riverside Avenue to Kids Unlimited for another set.
    Blackwell said several musicians who play during the day also will return to the Elks for a late-night jam session.
    "This is why you do this," he said.
    The Swing Sisters saw Gator Beat out the door, with their set of classics such as "Please, Mr. Postman" and "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree."
    Tom Rigby, one of the festival's headliners, burned up the strings of his fiddle during his first set of the festival Friday evening. He looked forward to a weekend of various genres of American music, played to enthusiastic Medford audiences.
    "You hear all kinds of music at the festival anymore," he said. "I'd say this is an American roots music festival."
    Ariana Gifford, a volunteer dance host, spent her evening enticing people to crowd the dance floor to celebrate the music.
    "I love it," she said. "I love dancing with people so much. And it's such good music to dance to."
    Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471 or email cconrad@mailtribune.com.
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