The University of Rhode Island’s Jazz Big Band entertained hundreds of URI Alumni and local residents during the Wakefield Oktoberfest and River Fire this past Saturday, as part of the University’s 125th anniversary celebration.
Seventeen undergraduate students, and one graduate student, fill the ranks of the band, directed by Grammy nominated composer Professor Joe Parillo. The Big Band played an hour long set for hundreds of people, showing off their style and sound. Guests of all ages danced along as the jazz music took over the crowd.
Guitar player Ryan Trembley and Evan Magno on stand-up bass filled the band’s string section, accompanied by James Himmelman on the keyboard and Nick Montroney playing the drums. Marissa Silva, graduate student, joined the big band this year and added to their already beautiful sound with her vocal accompaniment.
“Next we’re gonna do a Lennie Niehaus tune called “Beantown Blues,” said Parillo between sets. “We’re gonna feature every single horn player up here who hasn’t soloed yet.”
The brass sections made up the majority of the band, with four trumpets, four trombones and five saxophones. During “Beantown Blues,” Saxophone player Triston Ethier wowed the crowd with his solo performance before passing the spotlight on to the next member of the brass sections’ solo.
We “really enjoyed the night,” Parillo said. “They took care of us really well, there was not a single glitch, and I think the band sounded great.”
The Oktoberfest activities were held behind Phil’s Main Street Grille and The Contemporary Theater Company on Main Street in downtown Wakefield. The Wakefield Village Association, which is comprised of businesses that reside on Main Street, worked with the University to include the Jazz Big Band to as a part of the festivities. The jazz band played on the outdoor stage of the Contemporary Theater Company, next to the Saugatucket River Bridge, which links downtown to Wakefield Elementary School.
Oktoberfest grew significantly from last years’ festival. Despite the weather, employees and volunteers of the Wakefield Oktoberfest estimated there to be nearly 3,000 people throughout the day, doubling last year’s attendance.
The Wakefield Village Association put together a various line-up of musicians, vendors, street performers, food and local craft beers. The beer garden behind Phil’s featured beer from Whalers Brewing Company and Narragansett Beers, guests could even purchase traditional Oktoberfest foods like German pretzels, bratwurst and apple strudel.
Commenting on the variety of entertainment, Kenny Tetzner, the Wakefield Village Association President and owner of Phil’s Main Street Grille said, “They’re going to be amazed.”
Vendors were set up along Main Street and down along the river for attendees to shop local artisans work. In addition to the Wakefield Village Association, sponsors included Paul Masse Chevrolet, Sweet Altheas, Sign-A-Rama, Contemporary Theater Company, Whalers Brewing Company, South County Hospital, URI and the town of South Kingstown’s Parks and Recreation Department.
Other musical acts from the night included “Take It To the Bridge” and “Los Duderinos.” Besides musical guests, other forms of entertainment included; Ladies of the Rolling Pin, who use rolling pins as instruments, the nationally known Big Nazo puppets, The Great Baldini, a magician, the New England Patriots’ Pat Patriot and Rhody the Ram himself.