Ensemble History


In 1983 a group of talented musicians attending Arizona State University in Tempe, formed a musical ensemble whose artistic focus centered around the musical traditions of early New Orleans Jazz. They possessed a burning desire to explore the colorful nuances and creative challenges of this indigenous American art form. In tribute to the quaint little side streets where jazz was first heard in the French Quarter of New Orleans, the band decided to call itself the Side Street Strutters.

Shortly after the ensemble’s inception, the Strutters were accepted onto the Arizona Commission for the Arts Touring Roster and represented the state at the Cervantino International Music Festival in Mexico. In 1984 the group was awarded first place honors at the International Association of Jazz Educators Jazz Competition, made numerous television appearances including the Today Show, the Merv Griffin Show, and the Jerry Lewis National Telethon.  They also accepted an invitation to perform for former President Reagan at the White House. The ensemble’s innovative jazz style and magnetic audience appeal led them to Disneyland in 1985 where guests enjoyed their weekly performances for 22 years.

With the Los Angeles area as their new home, the Side Street Strutters continued to gain popularity and attract a burgeoning audience. In 1986 the ensemble received a “Recommended” artistic rating from the National Endowment for the Arts for international touring and conducted their first of many European tours. They have since shared their music throughout Holland, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, and Sweden. In 1991 the ensemble received first place honors at the prestigious Breda International Jazz Competition in Holland.  In 1993, the group was awarded an international touring grant from the National Endowment For The Arts and the United States Information Agency to tour Europe.  Later that year, the Side Street Strutters were accepted onto the California State Touring Arts Roster. Soon after, the ensemble embraced a new musical challenge as they proudly debuted a Symphony POPS program. The Strutters successful pops show offered an exciting opportunity to collaborate and share the stage with prestigious symphonies such as Houston, Rochester, Phoenix, Long Beach, Jacksonville FL, San Antonio, and Atlanta. Their busy performance schedule also included a variety of jazz festivals, special events for the Walt Disney Company, formal concert presentations and several new CD recordings including a 25th Anniversary CD and Live in Concert DVD.

In 2010, a few members of the ensemble were cast in a Disney show featuring the talents of a Los Angeles based singer named Meloney Collins. The Strutters so enjoyed making music with Mel that it wasn’t long before the band decided they wanted to create their own show to feature Ms. Collin’s vocal stylings. The new production, entitled “Shiny Stockings” focuses on classic melodies popularized by the great songstresses of the golden age of jazz. Feel the searing rhythms of “Sing, Sing, Sing” and “Caravan”, savor the lush harmonies of “Stardust”, and reminisce to “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore” and “A Tisket A Tasket”. Together, the Strutters and Ms. Collins create an exciting musical experience which breathes new life into melodies which have established themselves as a permanent part of the American cultural landscape. The show will tour in spring of 2013 and reached over 50 communities in 15 states. The Side Street Strutters have now performed more 1000 concerts and school outreach programs in 50 states and 9 countries. With their growing popularity and mounting accomplishments, one thing is certain: They love this music!

Whether performing in Europe, the White House, or on your concert stage, the Side Street Stutters create a lasting impression in the hearts of people everywhere. They welcome the opportunity to bring their dazzling showmanship, personable humor, and outstanding musicianship to your community. With their popularity and accomplishments, one thing is certain: They love this music!