Cheryl’s Swingin’ Dixie Variety Band

Cheryl Thurston’s festival band Cheryl’s Vintage Jazz (photo by Helen Daley)

Helen Daley

The Arizona Classic Jazz Society (ACJS) will once again pay tribute to Cheryl Thurston by celebrating her birthday on Sunday, May 19, in the San Tan Room at the Crowne Plaza Phoenix – Chandler Golf Resort in downtown Chandler from 1 to 4 p.m.

This celebration has become a yearly tradition for ACJS. It is a pleasure to honor Cheryl for doing what she enjoys most: entertaining you. Cheryl is a beautiful, caring, friendly, talented multi-instrumentalist and vocalist. She plays a variety of music throughout the year in Sun Lakes and many other Valley venues and helps keep the tradition of traditional jazz alive in personal performances, as well as being the pianist for ACJS-sponsored school programs.

As you can tell, there are many reasons why ACJS celebrates Cheryl’s birthday. Among all the bands she leads and/or plays with, she finds time to be a member of the ACJS Board of Directors. Cheryl has assembled a very talented all-star band that will be playing a wide variety of music for your listening and dancing pleasure:

Cheryl on piano, trumpet, and vocals

Howard Alden on 7-string guitar and banjo. He is a world-renowned musician you won’t want to miss.

Roy Calhoun on drums. After once playing with Eddy Arnold, the Four Seasons, and many stars in Las Vegas, we feel lucky whenever he joins Cheryl.

Evan Dain on bass. Evan’s musical career encompasses all genres of music, and he is a permanent member of the Wildcat Jazz Band.

Steve Means on reeds. He has played with Jo Ann Castle, Pat Boone, Glen Campbell, Henny Youngman, Andrea McArdle, and Big Tiny Little. Jane Russell once referred to Steve as “the Elvis Presley of clarinet.”

Dan Reed on trumpet. He is an extremely popular Valley musician and is currently a member of the Sun City Stomperz.

Greg Varlotta on trombone. A multi-instrumentalist and tap dancing trumpet player, he is a member of the Side Street Strutters.

Cheryl’s top-notch Cheryl’s Vintage Jazz band, which plays at the Arizona Classic Jazz Festival every November, will be demonstrating their versatility during two special country swing sets featuring the music of Bob Wills. The drummer for that band, Danny Coots, lives in Nashville.

The cost for this amazing afternoon of music is $15; under 18 free. Credit cards are not accepted at monthly events, so please bring cash or your checkbook. The public is welcome. For more information, go to or call Helen at 480-620-3941.