Life Along the Streetcar with Tom Heath from The Heath Team Nova Home Loans

On this week’s show, we’re going to speak with Khris Dodge. He’s been a Tucson arts advocate for over 30 years. He works as a musician, an educator, an arranger, a composer, and recently appointed the Executive Director of the Tucson Jazz Festival. He’ll let us know what to expect from the 9th version of this community event attracting national interest.

Today is January 8th, my name is Tom Heath and you’re listening to “Life Along the Streetcar”.

Each and every Sunday our focus is on Social, Cultural and Economic impacts in Tucson’s Urban Core and we shed light on hidden gems everyone should know about. From A Mountain to the U of A and all stops in between. You get the inside track- right here on 99.1 FM, streaming on we’re also available on your iPhone or Android using our very own Downtown Radio app. Reach us by email [email protected] — interact with us on Facebook at LifeAlongTheStreetcar and follow us on Twitter @StreetcarLife

Our intro music is by Ryanhood and we exit with music from New Beginnings, “Monkey Named Calypso.”

Transcript (Unedited)

Good morning. It’s a beautiful Sunday in the old Pueblo. You’re listening to KT DT Tucson. Thank you for spending a part of your brunch hour with us on your downtown Tucson community sponsored Eric and Roll radio station.

On this week’s show, we’re going to speak with Khris Dodge. He’s been a Tucson arts advocate for over 30 years. He works as a musician, an educator, an arranger, a composer, and recently appointed the Executive Director of the Tucson Jazz Festival. He’ll let us know what to expect from the 9th version of this community event attracting national interest.

Today is January 8, 2023. My name is Tom Heath and you are listening to life along the streetcar. Each and every Sunday, our focuses on social, cultural and economic impacts in Tucson’s urban core, and we shed light on the hidden gems everyone should know about, from a mountain to the University of Arizona and all stops in between. You get the inside track right here on 99.1 FM, streaming on Also available

on your iPhone or Android with our very own downtown radio app. Well, it’s a new year, but you can still contact us in the old ways through Facebook, Instagram or contact us through our website, Of course, you can listen to our podcast on lots of platforms like Spotify, itunes and simply asking your smart speaker to play the Life Along the Streetcar podcast. January 8, 2011. That’s a day that will be remembered by all of us that lived in this community. Around that time, people across our city, our state, even our nation had our eyes fixed on that Saturday morning here in Tucson when 19 people were shot by a lone gunman as they gathered to hear the words of our congresswoman, Gabriel Giffords, as she did frequently with congress on her corner, congress on your corner. 13 were wounded and six individuals lost their life as a result of that shooting. And a couple of years ago, a memorial representing the loving embrace of a community was formed right behind the courthouse

in downtown Tucson. According to their website, the January 8 memorial expresses gratitude to the many individuals who responded with donation ideas and other support in developing this memorial. It was a community effort. If you’ve not been, I encourage you to do so, especially on a day like today, January 8, 2023. And take a look at what this community came together to create. It is a reflection pond. There are gardens and symbolism throughout the entire project, not only about the incident and the victims, but also about our rich heritage and how we move forward in a world that seems senseless sometimes. I do hope you get a chance to go and check it out and have a moment of reflection. The speaker today, our guest, is Chris Dodge. He is the recently appointed executive director of the Tucson Jazz Festival, now on its 9th iteration, not only local, but national. And I think international talent is descending upon Tucson this week and will deliver some fantastic music. So I had a chance

to sit by phone with Mr. Dodge and talk a little bit about the history, what we can expect this year and what the future holds for the Tucson Jazz Festival. All right, so we are here with Chris Dodge, now in charge of the Tucson Jazz Festival, recently appointed as the executive director. Mr. Dodge, welcome to the show.

Thank you very much. Good to hear.

So you are new to the Tucson Jazz Festival, but you are not new to Tucson or art Scene. You’ve been involved, I read your biography. You’ve been doing stuff for decades here in Tucson. Can you tell us a little about you before we get into this fabulous festival?

Sure. I don’t generally like talking about myself, but because you asked, I will tell you a couple of things. I’ve been part of the community for probably 30 plus years from performing with several organizations like the Arizona Opera, which I was a manager for the orchestra and a principal percussionist for 20 plus years to Arizona Theater Company and other theater companies around town. I’ve played and produced lots of different musicals with lots of different companies over the years. I’ve run my own production company that produces live music concerts for people all over Arizona. We tour tour things throughout the state. And I’ve also was a teacher in the public school system teaching music for 20 plus years. I taught a really successful steel trunk program that performed for thousands of people over the years. It’s been great to be part of the Tucson community, part of our arts community through the years. And I think all my experiences that I’ve done from the playing experience and

national tours to the management experience to the education are all a great mix. To be able to be run the Jazz Festival right now, absolutely.

I can imagine pulling all of those pieces together for what is a nine day event, but really takes on a 365 day preparation. But before we get to that, I need to know one thing. What about hot stuff? You didn’t talk about hot stuff.

Are you a fan of Donna Summer? Is that what you’re telling me?

When I read biographies, I find things that are just very interesting to me. And then when you don’t bring it up, it makes it even more interesting. But not only a musician, but you’re an arranger, you’re a composer. Tell me about hot stuff.

Well, Hot Stuff is a show that created with an amazing Crystal Stark several years ago. And we’ve toured that around and it’s the music of Donald Summer. And it was enjoyable to arrange the show and it’s even more enjoyable to perform it with Crystal, who’s absolutely stunning at performing and playing that role. She does lots of other things as well, as we all know. But yeah, that’s one of our great shows. Yeah.

Well, Crystal Stark is another Tucson treasure that we are blessed to have her around Tucson as much as we do. There’s a lot of talent in Tucson.

Tucson is rich with talent. I say per capita. It is one of the finest cities in America as far as the musicians and the quality of musicians we have here. And I’ve had the fortune of playing and being around different scenes all over the country. And Tucson has just a wonderful wealth of great and diverse musicians here, for sure.

Yeah. And I’ve interviewed people that do rock and they’ve played in venues across the country and they say the same thing about our rock base. We have a strong orchestral talent. Jazz, like you said, there’s a lot of diversity in Tucson that I think gets missed on the radar because we’re kind of a small market.

Yeah, I would agree with you. But I know a lot of musicians, both touring and retired that make Tucson their place to come and be when they’re not on the road because of the environment that’s around here. You never know who you’re playing with on a band stand and what their career is and who they played with and what they’ve done in their life. It’s absolutely fascinating to me some of the stories I hear and people I’ve played with.

Well, I would love to dig into that because I’ve heard about Tucson’s collaborative spirit from others. But I think collaboration for me is the perfect segue into the Jazz Fest here in Tucson. Because if there’s one thing that I think of with jazz, it’s this sort of mix of different talents and styles that come together. And I think Tucson being a host of really kind of a major festival for nine days again, I think that would surprise people. But this is not a new event. We’re going on nine years now.

Nine years. We started the original executive director, Yvonne Irvin and had a vision with several people in town, including our board director of our board, a president of our board, Elliott Glicksman. And they came together and said, hey, we’ve had lots of different jazz things going on in this community. Let’s create the Tucson Jazz Festival and through the support of HSL Properties and everything else and all of our other sponsors we’ve been able to make this thing grow and thrive through the last nine years and even through the Pandemic. Losing a year, but coming back strong last year. Tucson has shown that it’s a town that really supports a festival like this and it’s gaining national attention for people around the country. Tucson is a cool place to come and listen to music and I expect that only to grow over time as well.

Yeah, I think the timing of the event makes it a very attractive we talked before the show about the weather we’re seeing in the East Coast versus what we’re seeing here. So it’s not a bad reason to come to Tucson. And it is a draw though, from we get a lot of locals. I’ve been to several events, it’s all held in different venues downtown. It’s not one space. We’ll talk about all those venues in a moment but you also bring in people from all over the country.

I really appreciate that people come to enjoy Tucson because they come to listen to the music.

Yeah, you talked about the collaboration before and I wanted to hit on the stage. You have the collaboration between the musicians and we create opportunities within the festival for local musicians to collaborate with people from around the country and that’s a special experience. We have opportunities for local musicians to perform and play for our free day of jazz on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, January 16 this year. But we also have opportunities where we collaborate with our businesses and our venues, like you said, where we create different spaces for this festival to experience things from restaurants to open air plazas to outdoor festivals to our historic theaters to even the new jazz club in Tucson, the Sentry Room, which is just a wonderful space to experience jazz as well.

Yeah, it’s a brand new venue and I don’t know that we would have the Sentry Room and Hotel Congress if we didn’t previously have eight years at the Jazz Festival to show that the demand is there.

You know what, I would agree that the Jazz Festival has played a part in that venue having to be able to exist. But there’s also the vibrancy in Tucson itself that helps to that and the venue itself. Hotel Congress is a really sought after venue as a whole in Tucson and they created a classy room. So hats off to everybody at Hotel Congress for creating a space that’s just wonderful and comfortable and exudes the confidence and artistry that can come from the stage. It’s really nice space.

Yeah, I’ve been in a couple of occasions to invite people to check that out year round and I’m very anxious to see how well it incorporates into this year’s festival. Well, we’re going to hear more about the Sentry Room and this year’s lineup coming to Tucson as part of the Jazz Festival in just a moment. I just want to remind you now that you’re listening to Life Along the Streetcar in Downtown Radio 99.1 FM and available for [email protected].

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All right, let’s jump back into the interview we have with Chris Dodge. Kind of got a little bit of the history and flavor of the Tucson Jazz Festival. And the newly appointed CEO is not going to tell us what to expect as far as the amazing talent that we’re going to see in Tucson starting this week. And if you are unfamiliar with the Jazz Fest, I would recommend go to their website because they’ve got every lineup that you’ve had since 2015. You can see all the performers that have come. It’s really an amazing collection of talent that’s come through Tucson. But tell us about 2023. What are some of the things we can expect? The venues, the music, the headliners?

Oh, my gosh, it’s full. We’re presenting more things in more spaces than we ever have. And I really love and need Tucson to embrace this. We have everything from let’s talk larger theaters. The Monterey Jazz Festival on tour that features Dee Dee Bridgewater, multi Grammy winning, as well as Kurt Ellen, two of the top jazz singers in our industry, coming together with some other great performers. They’re going to be at the Fox Theater. Opening the festival is Joshua Redmond, arguably one of the best saxophones ever. And he will be here. We have closing the festival a little jazz adjacent kind of feel as Bruce Hornsby and the noisemakers. Bruce Hornsby has been town several times, but just solo. He’s never been here with his whole entire group. And that’s an amazing type of concert. Terence Blanchard, who’s just premiered he’s just premiered writing an opera at the Metropolitan Opera House. He’s a trumpet player coming with the Turtle Island String Quartet. Pete Martini is here playing with

the Tucson Symphony Orchestra. Arturo Farrell, arguably one of the best Latin jazz piano players in the world, coming. Emma Cohen, who’s been on the scene and blowing up amazingly with his live broadcast and whatnot coming with his trio and probably special guests sitting in with him and multiple locations. Samara Joy, she’s just debuted an album that’s been nominated for two Grammys. And she’s an amazing young artist, won the Saravan Vocal Award and just up and coming, wonderful young artist with an old spirit gunhilled. Carling. She’s performing with us. Martin Luther King Jr. Day. She’s been on the scene. She’s from Sweden, plays 20 plus instruments really well and she’s just a joy to watch. We have Django inspired jazz coming. We have Basinova Duo coming. We’re full in the Century Room every night. There’s shows going on during the festival and there’s late night jams happening every night after main concerts. Tom, there’s just no shortage of great things happening.

This sounds like something that stretched over, like, three weeks or something, but you’re packing it all in nine days.

Yeah. Part of what makes a festival festival is the density. You have a lot of stuff going on at the same time, so it gives it a festival feel for sure. And we really want to make downtown a lively spot for people to come during the second week of January, or I guess that’s the third week of January is when it’s technically happening.

Yeah, you’re hitting all the main spots there. And then traditionally we have that free day for the community on Martin Luther King Day. Normally that’s towards the end of the festival, I thought, but this year it’s towards the beginning.

Well, we don’t have a choice on when Martin Luther King Day falls, which is fine, and we build the festival around that time. And sometimes if Martin Luther King Junior Day falls later in January, we put the festival in front of it. It’s a capstone. And right now we’re on that rotation where it’s back towards the beginning of the festival. So, yeah, it plays on the I guess that would be the fourth day of the festival.

And that’s outdoor concerts, a lot of free events for the public to come down and really kind of get immersed in the music.

11:00 a.m to six until 07:00 p.m on Martin Luther King Junior Day. And I’ve looked at the long term forecast. We’re going to get rain here at the end of December for a little bit, but I’ve looked at the long term forecast and throughout the festival, we’re supposed to be in the low 70s every single day in sunny skies, which is what you would expect in mid January in Tucson.

Perfect. And I will say this from a place of honesty. Sometimes jazz is intimidating to someone like myself, and I think of it as a foreign language. And then when I go to the jazz festival or even go to your website to check out some of the bands and hear their music, I’m all of a sudden like, wait a minute, this is not as different as I thought it was. It really encourage people to not just let the word jazz set you off, that it’s a different experience. Look at some of the bands that are coming and get immersed with what they’re playing because, like, Pink Martini, for example, just phenomenal work across a couple of decades in multiple continents, and this huge orchestral piece is just fabulous.

You know what, Tom? I think I need to hire you to work for me because you did a very good assessment of how I feel. Jazz is too someone who’s been around it and performed it for many years. I can see that and that it can seem intimidating, but I purposely do it. Program something that can be accessible to people. And whether you’re a long term jazz fan, you’re going to enjoy the jazz. And if you’re somebody that hasn’t experienced yet, try a couple things out. You know, come to the Century Room and, you know, listen to a set and come to another different concert and check it out, you’re going to find something that takes you on a journey and totally invigorates your soul. That’s the way I see it.

Well then how do people get involved? Are there tickets available for single shows? Do you have group like packages? Full event tickets?

So generally what we have going are single tickets for all the different shows. If you go to the Jazz Festival, Tucson Jazz Festival and check out the website, you’ll be able to find all the different shows that are on there. Go to the artist page and look at the artist, read about them and you can get a path to any of the tickets, any of the shows through the website.

If you’re from out of town, I know it’s kind of late by the time this airs, but if you’re from out of town, you also have this really cool thing that says how to Jazz Fest. It’s got this entire site towards how to dine, how to shop, how to, where to stay, all the activities that surround your Jazz Festival tour. So even if you’re in Tucson, maybe check out that page and plan your entire day around not just the music, but the experience of the festival.

Yeah, my ideal day at the festival is go catch an early lunch, catch an afternoon show out on the Plaza at Hotel Congress, catch a dinner somewhere and downtown. And then go see an evening show at one of our theaters. And then after you do that, come back to the Sentry Room and check out one of the late night jams. It would be a full immersed day in jazz, surrounded by the great food that you can find in downtown Tucson. I can’t think of a better way to spend a day during the festival.

Well, I think that is a great place to leave it. This is Chris Dodge. He is a musician, he’s an educator, a composer and a ranger. Don’t forget that. And also the executive director of the Tucson Jazz Festival. It starts here on January 13. It runs for nine days. More information available on their website and Facebook page which will link to all of that from ours. Chris, thank you. Thank you so much for your time today.

It was a pleasure. Tom and I look forward to seeing everybody at the Tucson Jazz Festival.

You hear that everybody going to head down to the Tucson Jazz Festival. According to Chris Dodge, the executive director appreciate his time. We had a chance to talk as he was ramping up for this event. So I know getting any moments of of their time is, is special. My name is Tom Heath. You are listening to Life Along the Streetcar in downtown Radio 99.1 FM and available for streaming on

You’re listening to Ktdt, Tucson, Arizona, 99.1 FM, downtown radio. I’m Brother Mark, host of a show called Radio Club Crawl that airs every Tuesday at 03:00 P.m.. We try to focus on most of the bands that are coming through Tucson and we give you a tasty taste of their music. You want to check out what’s happening around Tucson? Check out Radio Club crawl. Tuesdays, 03:00 P.m. Right here on Ktdt. Tucson, Arizona. 99.1 FM. Downtown radio.

Thank you very much. Enjoy your evening. Bye bye, brother mock. Another one of those talented and selfless volunteers that make downtown radio so special. We are an all volunteer run station. No one gets paid. We have a board of directors that is a volunteer. We have people that manage the websites. We have those that help us with our technical issues and make sure the radio waves and the online and the apps all work. Those individuals are volunteers. If you want to support us in this new year, we would certainly appreciate that. If you head over to and there’s a donate button right there so you can click that donate button, maybe give us a single donation or better yet, an ongoing monthly donation that really helps us with budgeting. And while you’re over there, check out the lineup, you’re going to see all kinds of cool things. You get talk shows and alternative types of music on Sunday. And then it’s a rock and roll mixed radio station Monday through Saturday with I

think we got like 50 DJs out there spinning things that you’re not going to hear anywhere else. And not only do you get the music, but you get the stories and you get the themes, you get the motivation. And I think that’s just fantastic. It’s an educational and an entertainment experience that’s all on And of course, here on the show, we have our own website as well,, where you can check out our past episodes and maybe contact us if you have any questions. And you can always head over to social media. Lifelong streetcar has got us. Webpage already said that, but they got a Facebook page. That’s what I’m trying to say. And an Instagram as well with some cool photos that highlight our urban core. Our guest today has been Chris Dodge. He is the executive director of the Tucson Jazz Festival. And this is an event that really, I think, like a lot of things in Tucson started with a good idea and it’s just really exploded to become a national draw. We’re

fortunate to have it here in Tucson. And with things now like the Century Room over at Hotel Congress, it kind of makes it a little bit more special and extends that just beyond the next couple of weeks here in Tucson. The jazz theme will stay in Downtown because of the Sentry Room over there at Hotel Congress. Next week we’ve got another cool show. We got Rachel known as Ray Ray Diequisto. She has been a fixture in the hospitality scene here in Downtown and she recently launched a new product that we’re kind of excited to talk to her about. I can’t say we’re debuting it because she’s got a lot of really good press from many different outlets. But you want to tune in next Sunday. If you are a fan of entrepreneurs, if you like cool creative cocktails or you’re just looking for a fun store, that’ll be next Sunday. And, of course, we’re always looking for your suggestions on what to cover. And as I mentioned, you can hit us up on our Facebook, Instagram, email us, go to our website. There’s

a contact us page. Tell us the things that we need to know. If you’re listening to this show, you’re in tune probably with kind of the hidden gems of our urban core. So tell us, what are we missing? We’re going almost five and a half years now, and I would think we’d covered everything, but we don’t even seem to have scratched the surface. It’s a new year. It’s 2023. I hope this year turns out to be as well as you expect it to be. I’m excited for all the things we’re going to do here on the show and all the things we’re going to see on downtown radio. So buckle up. It’s going to be a fun year here in 2023. Our guest today, Chris Dodge, mentioned he’s an educator and he’s over at Tucson High and he works with a steel drum band over there. So as we head out today, I want to leave you a little music. This goes all the way back from 2002. It’s on an album. I just love the name of it. For first show of the year, it’s called New Beginnings. The song is Monkey Named Calypso. My name is Tom Heath.

I hope you have a great week and tune in next Sunday for more life along the streetcar.