Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Potomac River Jazz Club

George A. Borgman had a lifelong association and appreciation for music, especially jazz and swing. In the late 1940s and early 1950s he played with several Swing bands. When he landed a government job in Washington, D.C. his love for jazz led him to seek out a venue for his interest.

In about early 1983 George A. Borgman who was living in Suitland, Maryland became a member of The Potomac River Jazz Club (PRJC)  when it was under the leadership of President Gary Wilkinson and Vice President Roy Hostetter. The group is still in existence.

The Potomac River Jazz Club was formed in 1971 the year Louis Armstrong died. It was created for the preservation of Traditional Jazz, Ragtime and the Blues which the organizers considered a unique American art form.

Members of this organization admired musicians like Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong, Bix Beiderbecke, Sidney Bechet, Jack Teagarden and many others. They also promoted the later revivalist Dixielanders such as Turk Murphy, Lu Watters and Bob Scobey.

The Jazz Club was one of the founders of the American Federation of Jazz Societies as well as being a founding member of the Cultural Alliance of Greater Washington.

Although membership is currently under a thousand it has members all across the United States and Canada. The group is mainly made up of members concentrated in the Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, Maryland area.

George permanently moved to Massachusetts in April of 1985, but continued his membership well into 1987.

While in Maryland George attended many of the club's events including the 1983 Easter Seals Dixieland Jubilee on February 19th where over 500 people were in attendance for a twelve hour dose of jazz from noon to midnight. Some of the bands in attendance were Fat Cat's Festival Jazzers, Southern Comfort, Bob Greene's New Orleans Quartet, and the Buck Creek JazzBand.

Then on June 19, 1983 George attended the Manassas Jazz Festival at the Ramada Inn in Alexandria, Virginia. The festival was presenting a benefit for pianist Dillwyn "Dill" Jones. The bands on show were Butterfield-Jones and the Jazz Connection, Buck Creek Jazz Band, Fat Cat's Festival Jazzers and the Princeton Bix Reunion Band. The musicians included drummer Johnny Blowers, trumpeter Billy Butterfield, cornetist Tommy Pletcher, Clarinetist Gary Gregg, pianist Rick Cordrey, and banjo players Jerry Addicott and Steve Jordan as well as numerous others.

Only about 150 people showed up for the five hour entertainment. By all accounts Butterfield's first set, with pianist John Eaton standing in for Dill Jones was winner. Later Butterfield and Tommy Pletcher played chase choruses. Singer Barbara Lea  accompanied the musicians for some tunes.

Manassas Jazz Festival Nov. 26, 1983 - "If I Could Be With You"
George was to enjoy many jazz performances, festivals and jazz picnics during his year working in Washington.

On September 15, 1984 he attended the 14th Annual PRJC Jazz Picnic at Blob's Park in Jessup, Maryland. The event went from 11:00 AM to 9:00 PM with Any Ol' Time Jazz Band starting off the festivities and ending with the Village Jazz Band. Some of the groups in-between consisted of the Royal Blue Orchestra; Federal Jazz Commission; Capital City Jazz Band; and the Ponchartrain Causeway New Orleans Jazz Band.

George's experiences as a member of the Potomac River Jazz Club and the opportunity to attend the numerous events where Traditional Jazz was one display prepared him for his future career as a jazz researcher, writer and reviewer.

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