An interesting week
If you have not had the opportunity — or, worse yet, not taken advantage of that chance — to attend one of the events put on by the Ohio Valley Music Guild, you’ve missed being able to relax while enjoying an evening of food, music and camaraderie.
A reminder of that came about 10 days ago when the guild held its annual summer jazz event at the Steubenville Country Club.
The guild works to hold three events each year — a spring presentation, the summer jazz event and a late fall presentation that coincides with its annual meeting.
Headlining the July 26 presentation was the Pittsburgh-based Jenny Wilson Quartet. Wilson is a composer, a vocalist, a flutist and, as she explained during the performance, a rarity in our region — a female jazz pianist. She was joined by her husband, bassist Nathan Wilson, saxophonist Curtis E. Johnson and drummer James Johnson III.
They entertained the 100 or so in attendance with a combination of original music and familiar jazz tunes.
Chairing the event, which was dubbed “Summertime Jazz,” was Debbie Elias, a longtime guild member and the organization’s first vice president.
It was an evening in keeping with the guild’s goal — to support culture, music and theater throughout the region and raise money to provide scholarships to students from around the Tri-State Area who are college-level music majors.
This was not the first time Wilson has appeared at a guild presentation.
Her trio performed during the jazz event held Sept. 17, 2016, at the country club. Sadly, that evening marked the last event for longtime guild supporter Anita Jackson. Jackson, who was serving as the organization’s president at the time, died just a few days later, on Sept. 22.
For Jackson, who was employed as the executive director of community relations at the Franciscan University of Steubenville when she died at the age of 77, the music guild marked another opportunity to work with and support organizations throughout the region. Her involvement with organizations like the United Way of Jefferson County and the Ohio Valley Health Center (then known as the Jefferson County Fourth Street Health Center) made a big impact on the lives of countless residents throughout the region.
Another reminder of that came just a few days after the jazz event, on Wednesday, in fact, when the Ambassadors Club of the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce held its annual Burger Bash fundraiser.
About 200 or so area residents took part in the event, which was held in the greenspace at Franciscan Square on University Boulevard. As usual, the evening offered the chance to relax outside while enjoying a mid-summer evening that included games and hot dogs, drinks and, of course, burgers.
There’s also a serious side to the bash — it helps to raise money. And it has raised a great deal of money since Jackson played a big role in getting it off the ground.
The focus has changed –at one time the money went to help local charities, but it now is used to provide scholarships. Last year, in fact, the ambassadors, who help to support chamber events and work with chamber members, gave out $6,000 in scholarship money.
Chris Orris of Valley Hospice, the club president, and Nicole Adamski of the Inn at Franciscan Square, who chaired the bash committee, as well as all of the ambassadors who worked to make the bash a success, deserve to be commended for being able to put on a quality event year in and year out, while helping to preserve the legacy of Jackson and, in the process, keep alive the memory of all of the good things she did for the community.
(Gallabrese, a resident of Steubenville, is executive editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times. He is the second vice president of the Ohio Valley Music Guild and first vice president of the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce.)