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BJW opens the new year with local vocal group Marlon and Friends

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After a short hiatus for Christmas and New Years Day, the Bakersfield Jazz Workshop returns to action this Wednesday, January 8, with Marlon and Friends, a vocal group featuring Bakersfield vocalist Marlon E. Mackey. As fans of the BJW know, each weekly workshop features a Beginning Jazz Class, a one hour set from a Featured Artist, and then a jam session. It was Mackey's appearance at one of those sessions last December that caught the attention of the BJW and led to his appearance this week.

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In an exclusive interview this week, Mackey described himself as a life long music student. He grew up in a very musical family and has been arranging vocal groups for as long as he can remember. His first group was a trio with his sister and a cousin who billed themselves as MMK.

His musical roots include jazz and gospel, later flavored with fusion, rock, hip hop, blues, and much more. (You can hear Marlon's cover of Bill Wither's "Ain't No Sunshine" here.) He is particularly a fan of just about anything from the 1980s which should give a clue as to what fans can expect this week.

More recently, Mackey has been working with a band called "The Lift" and several musicians from the Bakersfield area. He is really looking forward to his first appearance as the Featured Artist at the BJW, telling this reporter that he is "...super pumped up."

This should be a very entertaining evening. For those unfamiliar with the BJW, it is held every Wednesday evening in the main dining room of Le Corusse Rouge on White Lane in Bakersfield. The Beginning Jazz Class runs from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., immediately followed by the Featured Artist. If you are a musician and would like to practice your jazz chops, then be sure to sign up for the jam session afterward.

There is no cover charge, drink minimum, nor an age limit to attend the BJW's weekly event. If you haven't been there before, then you have been missing out on one of the true gems of the local music scene, particularly if you are a fan of jazz.