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Salina crooner coming to Jazz Festival
new slt jazz lankhorst
Les Lankhorst

The 24th Annual Great Bend Jazz Festival will feature vocalist Les Lankhorst from Salina, as well as the Prairie Winds Show Band and the GBHS Panther Jazz Band.
The show starts at 7 p.m. Saturday, March 17, at the Barton Community College Fine Arts Auditorium, with Great Bend High School’s jazz band. Doors will open at 6 p.m.
Salina native Lankhorst has made a career of personifying Frank Sinatra on stages all over the world. He won critical acclaim for portraying Sinatra in the popular Las Vegas show, “The Rat Pack is Back,” and for his solo show, “Les Lankhorst in Red, Hot & Swing.”
Lankhorst was the festival’s headliner three years ago, said Robert Feldt, one of the organizers of the annual event. That show was on Feb. 28, 2015, “the coldest night of that winter,” Feldt said. “The people who did brave the freezing temperature enjoyed it.”
Choosing a headliner for the jazz festival is always tricky. People from all over the state are aware of Great Bend’s Jazz Festival, which has survived while others have not, Feldt said. But the local audience has a definite preference for pop, swing and big band music as opposed to avant-garde jazz. Lankhorst should suit the Great Bend audience well.
“He’s a colorful guy,” Feldt said. “He’s much lived in Salina.” Lankhorst’s December show at the Salina Community Theatre, “A Crooner Christmas,” regularly sells out.

Prairie Winds Jazz Combo
He will be accompanied by members of the Prairie Winds Jazz Combo: Bill Clausing from St. John, alto saxophone; Craig Treinen from Washburn University, tenor sax; and Paul Hunt from Kansas State University on trombone. Great Bend members include Marc Webster, trumpet; Curtis Oberle, guitar; Greg Pohl, string bass; Steve Lueth, piano; and Kurtis Koch, drums.
“This is our 24th Jazz Festival,” Feldt noted. All of the previous festivals have been held at the Crest Theater. The will be the first time for it to be held at the BCC Fine Arts Auditorium.
Tickets are $15 for adults and $5 for students. Tickets can be purchased at the door or in advance at the Robert Feldt Law Firm or A440 Music in Great Bend, or call 620-792-3595.

The next generation
The Great Bend Jazz Festival committee always strives to involve young people in its programming, Feldt said. Getting the high school musicians to perform is only part of the effort.
“We have a clinician come here work with the high school and middle school jazz bands,” Feldt said. “And we hope parents and grandparent will bring young people to the show.” There’s something special about hearing a live performance that doesn’t come through a TV screen or electronic device.