Disneyland veterans bring Dixieland to summer concerts

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The Dixie Machine, next at the Idyllwild Summer Concerts, are longtime veterans of Disneyland, having collectively logged 220 years of experience playing for the Walt Disney Company.

The sextet, co-led by Rich Watson on drums and Brian Bettger on trumpet and vocals, played at all the Disneyland venues in many Disney iterations — the Disneyland Band, Disney Symphonic Fantasy, Golden Horseshoe Review, the Hook & Ladder Company and the All-American College Band. For those old enough to remember, Disneyland was not complete without hearing a big band or a Dixie group on Main Street at the Carnation Pavilion.

Now the Dixie Machine brings its upbeat blend of Dixieland favorites to ISCS at 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 10. Come on out and toe tap or strut to favorites such as “Ain’t She Sweet,” “Baby Face,” Toot Toot Tootsie,” “Ballin’ the Jack” and “When the Saints Go Marching In.”

Joining Watson and Bettger are Art Dragon on trombone, Bob Berstein on tuba, Doug Mattocks on banjo and Brian Clancy on clarinet. The Dixie Machine is part of the R&B Swing Machine organization that performs throughout California and beyond with swing, jazz, blues, latin and jazz rock.

Dixie Machine Disneyland vets have performed with Frank Sinatra, Barry Manilow, Wayne Newton, Mel Torme, Queen Latifah, and the Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey orchestras. Co-leader Watson was band director at El Dorado High School in Placentia for 36 years and is a member of the Jazz Educators Hall of Fame. Dragon was the director of the Disneyland Band for many years, and Berstein retired from the Disneyland Band after 36 years as a member.

The Dixie Machine members have perfected their Dixie chops making their audiences smile. They’re sure to do the same for Idyllwild audiences.

Opening for Dixie Machine are Don Reed and Maria Williams at 6:15 p.m.

ISCS concerts are free, and are presented each year for the enjoyment of locals. Sponsorships and donations at the concert help fund the series. Sponsors and donors can contact Dahleen directly at 951-659-2229 or send checks to P.O. Box 1542, Idyllwild, CA 92549. And along with your chairs, beverages and food, don’t forget cash to feed the donation jars passed around by volunteers.

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