Bullis-Rutter Big Band to play Sunday in final performance of season for Keokuk Community Concert Association

Bullis-Rutter Big Band copy

The Bullis-Rutter Big Band | Photo courtesy of Keokuk Community Concert Association

KEOKUK, Iowa — The Keokuk Community Concert Association is concluding its 95th season with a performance by the Bullis-Rutter Big Band, featuring Charles (“Chip”) McNeill at 3 p.m. Sunday in the Grand Theatre, 26 N. Sixth. 

The Bullis-Rutter Big Band was founded by Craig Bullis of Keokuk and the late Ray Rutter of Fort Madison. The current band has played together for 16 years and performs on the first Wednesday of every month from 7-9 p.m. at the Hawkeye Restaurant in Keokuk. They play popular selections from the golden era of big band music, including favorites from stars like Count Basie, Stan Kenton, Maynard Ferguson, Duke Ellington, Les Elgart, Glenn Miller and many others. 

The band also performs for free at the Rand Park Pavilion each fall. Members come from Keokuk, Mount Pleasant, Fort Madison, Quincy, Ill., and Macomb, Ill. They are available for hire to play at weddings, receptions, private concerts and dances.

McNeill, chair of jazz performance at the University of Illinois, is a tenured professor who currently tours with Doc Severinsen and “The Tonight Show” band and Grammy-award winning vocalist Natalie Cole. He previously worked at Florida International University and Virginia Tech University. 

A composer and arranger, McNeill was the musical director and jazz tenor saxophonist for Grammy-Award winning recording artist Arturo Sandoval. He recorded the CD “Americana” and the Grammy-Award winning release “Hot House” on Encoded Music with Sandoval. The “Hot House” CD earned the Grammy Award for “Best Latin Jazz Performance.” 

McNeill also has performed with artists and entertainers like Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., Joe Williams, Dizzy Gillespie, Billy Eckstine, Wynton Marsalis, Randy and Michael Brecker, David Liebman, Bob Mintzer, Slide Hampton, Tom Harrell, Paquito D’Riviera and Ira Sullivan. 

Admission to Sunday’s concert is by season membership or single tickets, which will be available at the door for $10. Students K-12 are admitted for free. Social distancing is encouraged.

Membership in the Keokuk Concert Association is open. A single-adult subscription is $50, which grants admission to performances and more than 25 reciprocity concerts in neighboring cities.

For more information, call or text 319-795-9114 or call 319-524-2220.

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