Cheryl’s Swingin’ Dixie Variety Band

Cheryl also plays drums.

Helen Daley

The Arizona Classic Jazz Society will once again be celebrating Cheryl Thurston’s birthday on Sunday, May 22, in the San Marcos Ballroom 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 the Arizona Classic Jazz Society (ACJS). You might ask, what is so special about Cheryl that she is honored at an event where she does what she most enjoys: entertaining you. Cheryl is a beautiful, caring, friendly, talented multi-instrumentalist and vocalist.

Cheryl has had an interesting life. Prior to marriage and moving to Sun Lakes, she worked as a mechanical draftsperson. But no matter what she was doing, she always found time for music. A reporter once heard her playing with the New Orleans Stompers at Lambert’s Steak House in West Lake, Ohio, where there was always a long waiting line to get into the basement venue. The reporter found it fascinating that a young woman was playing with a band of older men, which led to Cheryl being included in “Cheers to 1989’s Most Interesting People” for Cleveland Magazine.

As you can tell, there are many reasons why ACJS celebrates this fabulous person. Cheryl has assembled a very talented band for your listening and dancing pleasure.

Cheryl on piano, trumpet and vocals.

Richard Bogen on banjo and guitar. Known as Banjo Boogie, he also teaches and describes himself as an Eclectic Songster.

Roy Calhoun on drums. After once playing with stars like Eddy Arnold and The Four Seasons, 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 Wildcat Jazz Band.

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.

Elliot Ventimiglia on reeds. He combines his most important role as a stay-at-home dad with being a professional musician.

Cost for this amazing afternoon of music is $15 for Arizona Classic Jazz Society members; $20 non-members (become a new member and get in free on the 22nd; yearly membership $35 couple, $25 single). 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.