Gary Linehan, The Union Democrat

The Columbia Jazz Artist Series will present two different concerts this weekend.

The first will be a special benefit concert for the Sonora High School jazz band beginning at 7 p.m. Friday in Sonora High Scool auditorium. The second will be a 3 p.m. Sunday matinee featuring guest artist Johnny Valdes on guitar in Columbia College's Dogwood Theater.

The Friday concert will feature the Columbia Big Band and special guest vocalist Kerry Tweedy.

Tweedy's first music teacher was Rick Restivo at Sonora Elementary School. She was a member of the Bobcat Choir and sang solos in each school concert. She also played guitar in the Bobcat Jazz Band.

While at Sonora High School, Tweedy was a member of the Ritz Kids and performed in "Bye-Bye Birdie," "Mame" and "Guys and Dolls" under the direction of Lindi Lindstrom. She graduated from Sonora High School in 1985.

After high school, Tweedy continued her passion for music as a member of the Columbia College Jazz Choir. There she met program director and music instructro Rod Harris, who she credits as her musical mentor.

She has been performing off and on at Columbia College for more than 25 years.

Music has been a common thread in Tweedy's life. She spent three years as the host of the "Sunday Morning Jazz Brunch" on Sonora radio station KZSQ.

She was also lead singer in several bands, most notably her four-year tenure with Chains Required.

With no formal training, Tweedy describes her mother as her greatest musical inspiration because she instilled Kerry with a love and emotional connection to music.

Tweedy currently resides in Santa Rosa.

She will be backed by the 20-piece Columbia Big Band. Featured soloists will include Krista White on piano, Ken Taylor on trombone and Mario Flores on congas.

Some of the songs to be performed include Billie Holiday's 1945 classic "Lover Man (Oh Where Can You Be?)," Julie London's 1955 hit "Cry Me a River" nd Dorothy Fields' 1930 favorite "Exactly Like You," in addition to some Elvis Presley and R&B tunes.

Tickets for Friday's concert at Sonora High are $15 for general admission or $20 for VIP reserved seats in the front rows.

Tickets will be available at the door.

Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. for a pre-show performance by the Sonora High School Jazz Band under the direction of Yvonne Denton. The Sonora High group will also join the Columbia band later for a few joint selections.

The Columbia Big Band will then return to its home stage in the Dogwood Theater on Sunday for a special matinee featuring guest artist Johnny Valdes.

Valdes has become one of the top guitarists in the region, performing with countless bands and each year winning Modesto Music Awards for best guitarist.

He will be joined on stage by another guitarist - his father, Johnny Valdes - for a few joint selections.

Selections will include Santana's "Black Magic Woman," "Europa" and the 1999 hit "Smooth" in addition to songs by Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington and other big band favorites.

The Columbia Big Band will again feature Krista White on piano, Ken Taylor on trombone and Mario Flores on congas. The concert also will feature the College Vocal Jazz Quartet.

Tickets for the Sunday matinee are $15 for reserved seating, available at Mountain Bookshop in The Junction shopping center and the college's Manzanita Bookstore.

For tickets by phone through Friday afternoon, call 588-5126.

Remaining seats will be available at the door. For more information, call 588-5211.

The next show in the series will be the Big Band Jazz Festivalstarting at 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 1, in the Dogwood Theater.

Featured artists will include Mic Gillette on trumpet and trombone, Mike Rocha on trumpet, Ken Taylor on trombone, Paul Contos on flute and saxophone, Bob Secor on piano, Clinton Day on bass, Jim Anderson on drums, Mario Flores on congas and Rod Harris on saxophone. Reserved seat tickets are $22, available at Mountain Bookshop and the college's Manzanita Book Store.