Late one night in Bill’s Cafe in 1991, Audrey and Charlie Bechler and a few friends talked about that uniquely American music, jazz, and how to bring more of it to the people of Maine. They had the idea of holding an open jam mid-afternoon on the first Sunday of every month. They called it Jazz Is and it has kept right on the beat ever since, only recently departing Waldoboro for Thomaston.

The community lost Charlie a few years ago, but the band has stayed strong with the leadership of Mike Whitehead and the musicians are coming back “home” Friday night, May 23, for a very special show. The hall will be filled with the sketches and other artwork made over the years of the musicians by Charlie’s beloved wife, Audrey, and also by friend and fellow artist Julian Sacks. A just-completed documentary film about Audrey will premiere at 6 p.m., produced by Lincoln County Television and Friends.

The music will start at 7 p.m., provided by the Mike Whitehead Group featuring Whitehead on trumpet/ flugelhorn, Spike Hyssong on bass, Tom Luther on piano and Jason Dean on drums.

“We will be featuring some of Charlie’s tunes in our set,” said Whitehead.

The evening will serve as the christening event for a new venue, dubbed Old Number Nine, located downtown at 9 Friendship St./Route 220. For more information, contact Tidemark Gallery, 832-5109, or visit

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115; or