If you haven’t gone already, tomorrow is the last day to catch premier jazz musicians Big Mama Sue and Fast Eddie at the Harvest Festival. This weekend has so far been a blast at the Long Beach Convention Center, with comedy juggler Chuck Gunter and country singer Ann-Marita taking the main stage. Although Big Mama Sue and Fast Eddie will not be onstage this time around, they will be performing all morning and afternoon for strolling entertainment – convenient for anyone who doesn’t have time to watch a full performance but still wants to walk around and enjoy some good music.
Big Mama Sue and Fast Eddie are each one of a kind. The former, whose real name is Sue Kroninger, is a veritable jill-of-all-trades. Singer, percussionist (she can literally play jazz on a washboard), comedienne, emcee, and talent agent, Big Mama Sue defines multi-talent. She has degrees in literature and music from the University of California, Davis, started her career with musical theater, and founded her own production company in 1988. Big Mama Sue Productions promotes musicians in the central California area and provides booking services for parties all over San Francisco and Monterey. Big Mama Sue also acts as a style and staging consultant for musical events.
But besides all of this, Ms. Kroninger is jazz musician, quite possibly the queen of Dixieland jazz in this side of the country. She brings the traditional styles back and considers blues and jazz divas like Bessie Smith and Billie Holiday to be her greatest influences, though her clear, crisp mezzo-soprano seems to be more reminiscent of Ella Fitzgerald. What makes her so unique as a performer though, is her comedic ability combined with her musical skills. “She is considered by many to be one of the most recognizable figures in Dixieland jazz. She is also considered by many to have one of the most recognizable figures in Dixieland jazz,” according to her website. Everyone loves a person who’s talented but doesn’t take herself too seriously.
Next, Fast Eddie. “Fast” Eddie Erickson is a true virtuoso and showman, not to be confused with the DJ from Chicago, the heavy metal guitarist from Motörhead, or the blues guitarist from Portugal (these are just a few of the many possible results you might find on Google). Mr. Erickson, though unfortunate enough to have chosen a common stage name, is inimitable as a musician. Like Big Mama Sue, he is a pioneer of the Dixieland jazz scene in Central California and a multi-talent – a guitarist, vocalist, and banjoist. Banjos hearken back to an era when they provided the chordal accompaniment for big bands because regular acoustic guitars were too quiet – of course, with the invention of amps, all of that changed – but Erickson has taken this supposedly dated instrument and made it both modern and improvisatory. And like Ms. Kroninger, Fast Eddie brings us back to the homegrown jazz of New Orleans, reviving the charm of Louis Armstrong and Django Reinhardt.
The Harvest Festival is a pan-West Coast franchise that is also one of the largest indoor art and craft shows in the U.S. They’ve been around for almost forty years, promoting hundreds of local artisans and providing family entertainment. Big Mama Sue and Fast Eddie are bringing a taste of Central Cal to So Cal from 9:30am to 3pm tomorrow, so don’t miss it. Tickets can be purchased at https://events.admitoneproducts.com/tkt_sales.php?test=true&event_id=326011(the costs are $4.00, $7.00, and $9.00 for youths, seniors, and adults, respectively). Proceeds from the event will go to the Food Bank of Southern California, the Pacific Hospital of Long Beach, the Boys & Girls Club of Long Beach, Metro, and many more. The Festival will take place in the Long Beach Convention Center, Hall C, which is located on 300 E. Ocean Blvd nearby the Rainbow Lagoon. For directions, visit http://www.harvestfestival.com/Visitors/shows/longbeach/Directions.aspx.