Jodi Beach Trio in ‘Jazz at Emerson’

Jodi Beach
Jodi Beach

Staff Report

The Mendelssohn Performing Arts Center’s next “Jazz at Emerson” concert with The Jodi Beach Trio will take place at 5:30 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 21, at the historic Emerson House on the Mendelssohn Performing Arts Center campus, 420 N. Main St., Rockford.

The Jodi Beach Trio consists of Jodi Beach, Jim McDowell, and Ed Bogdonas.

If you ask Jodi Beach’s mother when Jodi first began to sing, she will look at you with a very sincere face and ask, “When hasn’t she?” Truly from birth, Jodi has been warming people’s hearts with pure and beautiful vocal tones. At the age of 5, she started piano lessons and could read sheet music before she could read English. One day while still very young, she ventured into a music store and was overwhelmed with the racks and bins of music. That day, she realized all of the music in the world was at her fingertips, and she has been gobbling up little black notes ever since.

Jodi began her performance career at the age of 6, singing in church. Even at this early age she gained an immediate fandom and continues this with several guest appearances annually in churches in the county. Music theater became a major part of Jodi’s life in 1987 when she joined the cast of the Rock Valley College Starlight Summer Theatre. For 13 years, she performed lead and supporting roles in musical after musical. Today, she still enjoys theatric roles when her schedule permits.

Jodi officially became a member of the jazz community in 1995 by working as pianist and vocalist with the Moonlight Jazz Orchestra. In 1997, she began filling open dates by forming her own trio, and she has grown that into the full-time endeavor heard today as the Jodi Beach Trio.

Though Jodi can bang out notes with the best of them, she has never been one to “trade solos and go home.” She can always be heard playing well-thought-out and rehearsed arrangements that pull your heart strings one minute, kick your dance shoes the next, and always treat you to the thing she loves to do the most … singing!

Jim McDowell is a bassist, guitarist, composer, arranger, studio musician, engineer, conductor and photographer. He has built a career of more than 40 years by adapting his musical talents to any situation presented. A classically-trained bassist, McDowell has been able to apply his craft to almost every genre of music known. “To me, it is not as much about what you are playing as how well you play it.” Jim is promoting his fourth release with The Jodi Beach Trio, West of the Moon, an ensuing symphonic tour. Also, to keep things interesting, he has begun a new venture with Can’t Touch This, a funk pop-soul horn band. He also keeps the creative juices flowing with an artistic photography business specializing in classic “old-school” promo and cover art.

Jazz at Emerson” is held the third Thursday each month, from 5:30 to 7 p.m., at the Emerson House in the heart of Rockford’s cultural corridor. Concertgoers can enjoy the swinging sounds of jazz, relax with a glass of wine and light refreshments, and meet the performers after the program. Doors open at 5 p.m. Seating is limited.

Admission is $15 for adults, $10 for students. Proceeds will benefit the musicians and the Mendelssohn Performing Arts Center. Tickets are available online at, by phone at (815) 964-9713 and at the door of the concert.

From the Nov. 20-26, 2013, issue

Enjoy The Rock River Times? Help spread the word!