Bellson Music Fest

Rock Falls Tourism is incredibly excited and honored to present the 2nd Annual BELLSON MUSIC FEST on Saturday, June 10th, at the RB&W District Amphitheater in Rock Falls, Illinois.

The all-day event celebrates the life and legacy of Rock Falls native son Louie Bellson (1924-2009), the world renowned big-band drummer, bandleader and composer. Hosted by Rock Falls Tourism, the event is being organized in close association with Bellson’s widow Francine Bellson and music director Josh Duffee of Davenport, Iowa.

Festivities kick off with a Drum Clinic by Walfredo Reyes, Jr. at 11 am, at the McCormick Event Center. Then, five bands are scheduled to perform from 12 noon to 9:30 pm at the RB&W District Amphitheater – BAJA Band; Josh Duffee & His Orchestra; Mike Conrad Trio; Starlight’s Theatre Blues Band; Walfredo Reyes, Jr. Trio.

An internationally acclaimed artist, drummer, bandleader and composer, Louie Bellson was deemed “the world’s greatest musician” by Duke Ellington, and “the best person I ever met” by Tony Bennett. He performed on more than 200 albums with artists such as Duke Ellington, Oscar Peterson, Count Basie, Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, etc. Vocalists include Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Sammy Davis Jr., Tony Bennett, and Bellson’s first wife Pearl Bailey.

Film appearances in the 1940’s include: “The Gang’s All Here,” “Stage Door Canteen,” “A Song Is Born,” etc. He served as musical director for his late wife Pearl Bailey’s concerts and TV show. Further, Bellson is credited with invention of the double-bass drum.

As a composer and author, Bellson wrote more than 1,000 compositions and more than a dozen books on drums and percussion. A six-time Grammy nominee, he received the prestigious American Jazz Masters Award from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1994.

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