, Muskogee, OK

March 3, 2014

OMHOF jazzes up benefit

Mardi Gras Party to raise funds for water tower lights

By E.I. Hillin
Phoenix Staff Writer

— Steve Ham said he discovered his love for jazz as a youth in Sapulpa.

“When I was a sophomore in high school I heard Louis Armstrong on TV and I said, ‘Whoa, what is that?’” he said.

Ham and his Jambalaya Jass Band will play Thursday at the Mardi Gras Party, sponsored by the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame and the Muskogee Rotary Club. The band will perform New Orleans-style jazz.

“It’s good-time music. It makes you want to move,” Ham said.

The party not only offers Muskogee residents a chance to feel the spirit of Mardi Gras, but will serve as a fundraiser to enhance the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame’s water tower.

Proceeds from ticket sales will be used, in addition to a Kirschner Foundation grant, to put LED lights around the water tower. The tower was donated by Koch Industries and erected in 2004.

Hall of Fame Director Jim Blair said the lights would be a great accent to what the Action In Muskogee initiative is trying to do in the cultural district.

“It will be a great anchor to that,” Blair said. “It will highlight the Hall of Fame, Three Rivers (Museum) and Muskogee Little Theatre.”

The colorful lights will be similar to those at the Cherokee Nation Casino in Fort Gibson, he said.

 Citizens Security Bank, the Hogle Co. and Fred Ruefer are providing the food for the party. Guests can look forward to Cajun classics including red beans, rice, andouille sausage and shrimp.

The food will be served around 6:30 p.m. and the Jambalaya Jass Band will start their performance at 7 p.m.

Ham said the band’s name and spelling was inspired by early jazz. “That’s how they originally spelled jazz,” he said.

Ham has played with many musicians and artists in Oklahoma. Blair said, “Steve ‘Ham Bone’ has recorded with a lot of people and is very talented.”

Ham’s musical career goes back to the ’70s.

“I started in 1974. I’ve played with guys in my band since 1974 and 1976. We’ve been playing together a long time,” Ham said.

Tickets to the Mardi Gras Party are available in advance at the OMHOF or at the door.

“Tell everybody to come up and come see us, and we’ll have a good time,” Ham said.

Reach E.I. Hillin at (918) 684-2926 or

If you go

WHAT: Mardi Gras Party.

WHEN: Doors open at 6 p.m. Thursday. Food will be served around 6:30 p.m., and entertainment starts at 7 p.m.

WHERE: Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame, 401 S. Third St.

INFORMATION: Jim Blair, (918) 869-6776.

TICKETS: $15 in advance or $20 at the door. Advance tickets are available at the OMHOF between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.