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X-tet among 14 groups featured at this weekend's Animas River Jam

Group performs mix of jazz, funk and pop material

FARMINGTON — San Juan College music professor Teun Fetz plays drums in or leads so many groups, of so many styles, he said it's difficult for him to pick a favorite.

"It's like picking between your kids," he said.

But he acknowledged he takes a special pride in his group the Fetz X-tet, which will be among the bands featured at this weekend's inaugural Animas River Jam in Berg and Animas parks in Farmington.

"This one just has so many styles of music, it keeps you on your toes," he said. "As a drummer, you don't get bored playing the same thing day after day. For me, it's just a great challenge to be able to play these different things."

The group derives its name partly from its flexible lineup. As Fetz said, sometimes it's a quartet, sometimes it's a quintet and sometimes it's a sextet, as it will be when it takes the stage at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, May 29 at the River Reach Terrace stage in Berg Park — hence the X in X-tet.

Of course, the band also bears Fetz's name, which is fitting, since he founded the group and recruited all its members. That also gives him a little extra motivation to see it perform well.

"Anytime my name's on it, I feel responsible and proud," he said.

The Fetz X-tet — which consists of Fetz on drums, Tom Maddox on bass, Robyn Woodard on keyboards, Delbert Anderson on trumpet, Alex Olivas on tenor saxophone and, for this performance, Taylor Woodard on vocals — made its debut in the summer of 2019, but performs only rarely. Its members are all music educators or professional musicians and have a variety of other obligations, which limits how often the band can get together.

But Fetz emphasized they are all top-flight musicians, and the fact that they don't get together often doesn't impact the quality of the music. The Fetz X-tet set list ranges from straight jazz or Latin jazz to funk and pop. A cover of "Fly Me to the Moon" or "Night and Day," popularized by Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole, respectively, might be followed with a new take on Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On."

"We have a very versatile set list and the personnel to pull it off and the ability to play it effectively," Fetz said, describing the group's style as high energy. "People are just going to notice a tightness and togetherness that separates us from other bands."

The group's last gig was last summer at Wines of the San Juan, and Fetz is looking forward to picking up where that one left off. He's also very excited about performing in front of a live audience again, something the various groups he leads at San Juan College didn't have a chance to do during the school year because of the pandemic.

"It's a blessing to be able to reach out and play for people who want to hear music," he said, noting that kind of situation provides an entirely different vibe to a performance.

The Fetz X-tet will be one of 14 groups or artists featured at the festival, which is being presented by the River Reach Foundation and City of Farmington as an alternative to the annual Riverfest celebration.

Riverfest was cancelled again this year due to COVID-19. Also scheduled to perform on Saturday at the River Reach Terrace are Black Velvet at noon, Majik Ham at 4 p.m. and the Tim Sullivan Band at 6 p.m.

More: Organizers hoping for good response to inaugural Animas River Jam

On Saturday at the Rocky Reach Landing in Animas Park, the Jelly Belly Boogie Band kicks things off at noon, followed by Julie and the Boyz at 2 p.m., Sheldon Pickering at 4 p.m. and Six Guns at 6 p.m.

The music continues on Sunday at the River Reach Terrace with the Pete Giuliani Band at noon, the Delbert Anderson Trio at 2 p.m. and the Ben Gibson Band at 4 p.m. At the Rocky Reach Landing on Sunday, the Kirk James Band performs at noon, followed by F.A.B. at 2 p.m. and the Shawn Arrington Blues Band at 4 p.m.

D'Ann Waters, the president of the River Reach Foundation, said six food trucks will be present at the River Reach Terrace during the festival, and four will be parked at the Rocky Reach Landing.

While Waters said organizers have no idea how large a crowd to expect, she anticipates the free festival will be well received by a public that has had few opportunities to enjoy live entertainment for the last 14 months.

"I think it's going to work out really, really well," she said, noting that she expects people to come and go over the course of the two-day event, which will not feature tables or seating for safety reasons.

She said those in attendance will have the chance to fill out a survey gauging their enjoyment of the event. If response is positive, she said, a second Animas River Jam likely will be held this fall.

She said the River Reach Foundation board will be meeting on June 3 to analyze the results of that survey and will decide then whether to proceed with the fall event. She is optimistic this weekend's festival will go well enough to warrant a second installment.

"I'm anticipating we'll do it again," she said.

Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 or Support local journalism with a digital subscription.