Cheryl’s Swing ’n Dixie Variety Band

Cheryl also plays drums

Cheryl also plays drums

Helen Daley

With so many changes over the past year, it is with great pleasure that we announce the Arizona Classic Jazz Society’s (ACJS) yearly tradition of celebrating Cheryl Thurston’s birthday. Please celebrate with us on Sunday, May 16, 2021, 1 to 4 p.m., at the Crowne Plaza Phoenix – Chandler Golf Resort in Downtown Chandler. The cost is $15 for ACJS members and $20 for non-members (become a new member on the 16th and get in free; yearly membership is $35 per couple and $25 single). Check the ACJS website at or call 480-620-3941 for details.

Although ACJS usually presents traditional jazz bands, Cheryl is sure her fans will appreciate a wide variety of music. Therefore, she has put together a wonderful variety show where you will hear some jazz and blues but also swing, rock ‘n’ roll, Latin, country, waltzes, and maybe even a line dance and polka. If you know Cheryl, you know she puts her heart and soul into every song.

There will be two dance floors and seating with spacing to meet everybody’s wishes, with the choice of table or theater seating.

Cheryl’s band will consist of Cheryl on piano, trumpet, and vocals along with the following:

Roy Calhoun grew up in Phoenix where, at age 13, he won a Boys Club contest and played drums in a band with the likes of Red Nichols and Jack Teagarden, as a teenager worked with locals including Wayne Newton, was recruited by a lounge group in Vegas in the late 1960s, lived in Vegas for nine years playing with stars like Eddy Arnold and the Four Seasons, and has played drums around the Valley ever since moving back.

Bass player Evan Dain, from Tucson, has a musical career that encompasses traditional, modern, and Latin jazz, rock ‘n’ roll, bluegrass, pop, and country-western. He is currently a permanent member of Wildcat Jazz Band.

Madelyn Roberts, daughter of guitar great Howard Roberts, comes by her talent naturally. Her original training was as a classical violinist. At one time, she was ranked one of the top three women billiards players in the world. Can you imagine playing an exhibition with Minnesota Fats? She was also President of the Professional Musicians of Arizona, American Federation of Musicians Local 586. And she sings. A very interesting lady, indeed.

Dan Reed, a very popular Valley trumpet player and currently a member of the Sun City Stomperz, was music director for Princess Cruises. He plays many kinds of music with many different bands and also teaches.

Greg Varlotta, known as the tap-dancing trumpet player, is a multi-instrumentalist who is currently music director at the Silver Star Theater in Mesa, and hits the road with the Side Street Strutters. He will play trombone on the 16th.

Elliot Ventimiglia is a professional reed player who has the most important day gig—a stay-at-home dad.