Billy D's Route 66 Jazz Band

Get your kicks on Route 66. Every Saturday afternoon for the past thirteen years, Club Saratoga as presented Duluth audiences to some of the best jazz in the upper Midwest with Billy D's Route 66 Jazz Band. Drummer Billy D. (DeMeria) is a local Twin Ports treasure. He is a hometown product who is striving to keep the jazzy sound of the 1940's and 50's alive.

Piano player Paul Ierino, who has been playing with Billy D. for the past 20 years, has fingers that fly over the keys with a dexterity and ease that makes the complex appear effortless. He fronts the band which includes some of the best jazz musicians in the area. Bob Draves, from Chicago, gets in his licks on Route 66 with some clean jazz guitar. The young man with the horns, Bob McGregor, plays saxophone and clarinet and sings like a bird. His incredible repertoire of tunes includes classics from the 1920's to songs from 1990's. Mike Johnson on bass and Mark Anderson on guitar and back up bass are "right there" with every beat that Billy D. hammers out on the tubs. What would jazz be like without those sultry women of song? It doesn't get any sweeter than the vocal stylings of Patty Dodge and Gina Befera who bring to life the sounds of Billy Holiday, Lena Horn, Peggy Lee and a whole gamut of jazz greats. Some of the best talent in the area drop in from time to time to jam and help keep the jazz alive in the Twin Ports, including pianist Michael "Dr. Jazz" Pagan, saxophone talent Frankie Garcia and Bob Ransom.

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Copyright 1997 by Ray M. Stiles

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