Bix Festival History

The Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Society was founded in 1971, in Bix's hometown of Davenport, Iowa, to help keep alive the memory and musical accomplishments of native son, Bix, cornetist, pianist and composer.

Its first Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Festival, was that first, impromptu session held that same year. The Bix Board of Directors believes the Bix Festival is the longest-running one in the Quad-Cities area.

Each year the festival draws thousands of fans from throughout the U.S., and even foreign countries where Bix is known and revered as a jazz legend.

Davenport, Iowa, on the banks of the Mississippi River, is part of the Quad-Cities, a metropolitan complex of about 350,000, with ample hotels, motels, and venue sites, as well as air transportation. The area goes all out to make visitors feel welcome.

The catalyst for formation of the Bix Society came in 1971 when Bill Donahoe's, Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Band of New Jersey travelled to Davenport to visit Bix's boyhood home, sites where he'd played, and to pay musical tribute over his grave in Oakdale Memorial Park.

They also played a jam session at the then Davenport Holiday Inn. Hundreds overflowed the jam session site. Davenport musician Don O'Dette and others were so impressed with the turnout that they soon formed the non-profit Bix Society, with O'Dette as its first president. Today the Bix Jazz Festival is known worldwide, and has attracted many celebrity performers and jazz buffs of all ages.

Today, as always, all board members and volunteers donate their time and energies to make the Bix Fest ever bigger and better. Board members see the Society's goals, in addition to paying tribute to the genius of Bix, as including educating young people to the traditions of jazz through lectures and seminars, and by actually learning and playing the music.

The Bix Beiderbecke Youth Band, made up of young musicians selected from many area high schools, has drawn raves from all who hear it.

If you share our belief that jazz is a national treasure and should be preserved, please help us achieve these goals. For more information call the Bix office 563-324-7170 or contact us here.

"Bix Lives" award

This is given to a person or group which has shown a concentrated effort in promoting, preserving, and presenting the musical genius of Bix Beiderbecke‚Ķsomeone who has created a greater understanding of Bix's contribution to American Music Culture‚Ķor a person or group which over the years has proven to be an advocate for Bix’s legacy by their efforts in learning about and promoting the history of Bix's life.

2007 - Rich Johnson
2008 - Phil Evans
2009 - Jean Peirre Lion
2011 - Billy Barnes - Bill Donahoe
2012 - Howard Braren
2013 - Gerri Bowers
2014 - Dr. Albert Haim
2015 - Dick Hyman
2016 - Randy Sandke
2017 - Joe and Laura Hesse
2018 - Al Van Tieghem