The High Country-based jazz musician Shane Chalke has returned to the mountains from his annual wintertime migration to Florida. From May until late October, the jazz trumpeter and band leader resumes his jazz music gigs here that includes his weekly Wednesday night set at the Chef’s Table restaurant in Banner Elk and other shows in Boone and Blowing Rock.
This year, Chalke is showcasing his new album called “Jazz On The River,” recorded in a beautiful wooded building located in the Eagles Nest development along the Elk River.
Chalke is also prone to doing an outdoor adventure when he returns to the area. In 2018, he entered a cross-country scooter race that found him driving through wind and rain, the hot deserts of the west, the Rocky Mountains and even a wrong turn into a Native American reservation that found him detained for a bit. From California to North Carolina, it took him nine days to reach his home here in the Blue Ridge Mountains, worn out but satisfied.
This year, Chalke has decided to celebrate his 62nd birthday by hiking 62 miles on the Appalachian Trail in Western North Carolina. His long trek happened earlier this week as his wife, Monique, and a few hearty friends joined him where the hiking will average about 15 to 20 miles a day with a full backpack and gear.
Leading up to this late spring trip into the wilderness, Chalke had a successful winter down south.
“Sarasota is more of a city setting so it has a changing landscape every year, but I had a good, full season down there,” said Chalke. “There are wonderful musicians in Sarasota and a great jazz scene. So, I was pretty happy with my winter there. But, I am always super happy to get back here to the mountains. We sold a lot of my new album down there including most of my first CD pressing. There is a bit of a senior citizen crowd down there and they all still have CD players. Other than that, no one sells CDs anymore, so I mostly sell them as souvenirs. But the new album is, of course, available on the usual digital outlets from Amazon to Spotify and it is doing really well there.”
“Jazz On The River” features two original Chalke compositions including “You Used To Be You” and the modern-tagged “Sent From My iPhone.” This mellow and romantic album also features Chalke’s arrangements of tunes written by famous jazz artists such as “Born To Be Blue” penned in 1946 by Mel Torme and Robert Wells, “It Never Entered My Mind” written by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart in 1940, “Girl Talk” composed by Neal Hefti in 1965, “I Remember Clifford” written in 1956 by sax great Benny Golson and more.
The album features Chalke on trumpet along with local musicians Ben McPherron on bass, Jim Fleri on piano and drums, and Michael Willis on drums and piano.
When the Mountain Times talks with Chalke, it is the afternoon before his Appalachian Trail section hike begins at first light.
“My wife, Monique, asked me what I wanted to do for my birthday this year and I said that I am turning 62 and I’d always wanted to do a long hike,” said Chalke. “So, we started looking at maps of the Appalachian Trail to find a stretch that worked out to that 62-mile distance. We looked at the Roan Mountain to the Hot Springs area so if Monique didn’t want to do the whole hike, she could ditch and wait for me at the spa in Hot Springs (laughs). So, she was sold on that idea. We decided to begin our hike on Spivey Gap, which is near Burnsville. I have been doing 10 to 15-mile hikes around the High Country while carrying a full pack to prepare for the trip.”
What will make this adventure fun is that Chalke will be joined by friends along the way.
“The total number of people going on this hike is seven with me and one other friend doing it end-to-end and the others doing various sections,” said Chalke. “There is one stretch that is 23 miles in-between roads so when you start walking down that path, you are committed until you reach the other side. As for bears, there seems to be a lot of bears out this year. But, they say that a bear has never been documented to attack more than four people together at a time. As for the pack I am carrying, it is not like the old days when a pack weighed 35 to 40 pounds. Nowadays, everything is lighter, so I can carry my tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, food and cook stove set and water and it will all be under 25 pounds.”
Chalke has yet to be tagged with an Appalachian Trail trail name, something that usually has to be given to you by others and based on an incident or memorable conversation.
“I don’t have a trail name yet, but I probably will have one by next week,” said Chalke. “I tried to give myself a trail name and no one bought it. I wanted to name myself ‘Povo’ after the song recorded by jazz great Freddie Hibbard. In Portuguese, Povo means ‘the common people.’ What we would describe as blue collar folks they would say is Povo. But, no one went along with it. I think others have to give you your trail name, and it is usually a trail name that you don’t like. I have a friend who is going along on this hike and his trail name is Latte’ because he bought a fancy pickup truck with leather interior, so he got the name for being too much of a city boy. So, we will see. This will be fun.”
For more information on the weekly shows by Shane Chalke and BE Jazz, check our Nightlife Listings page 27.