The lights went out on Bucknell’s Main Quad for an evening of jazz music and astronomy on Friday, 8 June. The quartet “Free Country,” led by BIGster Phil Haynes performed jazz-inspired interpretations of tunes from America’s musical past, while fellow BIGster Ned Ladd trained telescopes on Saturn, Mars, and other celestial sights for public viewing.
“Free Country is an acoustic, jazzy, ‘NPR friendly’ string band specializing in the history of American popular music,” said Haynes. The program included Negro spirituals, Revolutionary and Civil War Hymns, Stephen Foster, Aaron Copland, Hollywood’s Western movie soundtracks, the Beatles and 1960s Rock revolution’s anthems.
More than 200 people attended the late-night outdoor concert and star party. “Jazz music and astronomy go so well together,” said Ladd. “They’re both highly technical, but also pull so strongly on our emotions. Both endeavors are about exploration — seeing what’s possible out there.” Throughout the evening, conversations ranged from “Free Country’s” stringed interpretation of “Day Tripper” to discussions of the science of black holes and why Saturn has rings.
Joining Haynes in “Free Country” were Hank Roberts, cello and vocals; Jim Yanda, guitar; and Drew Gress, bass.