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PHOTOS: Hot stuff at Penticton Hot Jazz and Music Festival

It's no secret that the demographic of the Penticton Hot Jazz and Music Festival skews a wee bit more, um, mature than the demographic of, say, a Miley Cyrus show.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>

But 98? That's just short of three digits.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who> Professor Cunningham & His Old School

Nevertheless, that was the age of one of our two interviewees Saturday night at the Trade and Convention Centre's "French Quarter" venue. And he was definitely a cool cat.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who> The Memphis Speed Kings

On stage was Carolyn Martin's Swing Band, hailing from the southeastern United States. But on the menu this night wasn't "swing" at all. Instead of their usual song list, the band opted for a tribute to famed American songstress Patsy Cline.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>Carolyn Martin as Patsy Cline

The tribute is one of the reasons they were hired for Penticton, and the set went over like gold. The crowd couldn’t stop singing along. Or dancing.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who> Dance dance revolution

And front and centre was 98-year-old George Bentham of Courtenay. With him was his 82-year-old girlfriend whose name we sadly lost in the buzz of the crowd.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who> George Bentahm (right) and long-time girlfriend

Regardless, this wasn't their first time at the Penticton event. Indeed, they attended the very first festival in 1996. And they're tried to get here every year since. All the way from Courtenay.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who> Tom Hook

On the 25-year anniversary of the thing -- COVID canceled it in 2020 and 2021 -- we figured that was pretty cool.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who> Dave Bennett abuses his piano

"We both were here for the first one," said Bentham, "and we’ve loved it all along.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>

"And now it's progressed to be a more efficient show now. And the talent level has increased greatly."

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>Tom Hook and the Hounds

According to Bentham, his love for music began in his youth. He played the keyboard for much of his life, has been known to get up to the mic himself on occasion, and taught ballroom dancing.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>

"We had a festival in Victoria for quite some time," he said in explaining the couple's growing attraction to Penticton. "But it slowly wound down because it had too many venues and because if you if you wanted to see a band, you had to leave halfway through another band's show."

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>

His better half, whose name still escapes us but who arranges for the bus that annually carries 40-plus people from the Courtenay region to the festival, said the two met 32 years ago.

"We started out square dancing way back," she said. "When I met him I was looking for a dancer and I found him. Now that's what we do."

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>

Bentham's faovurite acts of the three-day event, apart from the Patsy Cline tribute, were Dave Bennett and the Memphis Speed Kings and Tom Hook and the Hounds.

Both acts play upbeat, youngish jazz and rockabilly, and both put on a heck of a show.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>

As for the star of Saturday's well-received tribute, Carolyn Martin said she'd come back to Penticton "in a heartbeat."

And that's saying something. Four members of her band live in Nashville. Carolyn and her hubby/bassist live in Fort Wayne, Indiana. That's a long haul.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who> Carolyn Martin as Patsy Cline

"This is our first time here," said Martin. "We were invited and we were so excited. Three of us have played on Vancouver Island eight, nine years ago, so we kind of fell in love with the place back then."

"And being here this time, it's been like we were long-lost family. That's not hyperbole.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>

"From the time we landed here, everyone has been so nice. My husband and I like to get up early and go for walks, and everybody we encountered said hello."

Now we look forward to 2024, when the event is scheduled for Sept. 6 through 8. For more info as the dates draw closer, head here.<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>

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