Don Vidal (Tenor & Soprano Saxophone)

Don Vidal | The Groove Merchants Band

Don Vidal

Growing up on the east side of St. Paul, Don’s first musical encounters were at the young age of 7 when he began taking organ lessons from longtime Twin Cities musician, Ed Lewendowski. At age 8 he began singing in his church choir under the direction of Robert Kaiser, giving him the opportunity to perform at the Kennedy Center in Washing, D.C. and sing on the Musical Heritage Society’s album Benjamin Britten, “Saint Nicolas.”

After grade school Don continued to perform music playing saxophone in the high school band. He then joined the U.S. Army. Upon arrival in Anchorage, AK, Don was accepted into the 176th Light Infantry Brigade Band where he played lead alto saxophone. The band performed music at civilian and military functions throughout the state. He was awarded the Alaska Gold Pan Award, for loyalty, devotion and contributions to the band.

Upon his discharge from the Army, Don joined the Minnesota National Guard spending time serving with the 47th infantry Brigade Band (The Governors’ Own) in St. Paul, MN. The highlight being a trip to Vaxho, Sweden, where the band played for Minnesota Days.

Don attended Bemidji State University where he studied saxophone under Dr. Steve Konecne. While attending SBU he was a 3 time recipient of the Joe Plumer memorial Jazz Scholarship. Graduating in 1991 with a degree in Music Education, Don Currently teaches music in Warba, MN.

Don has had the opportunity to perform with talented artists and bands such as Captain Jack McDuff, Willie Murphy, Spider John Koerner, Richard Street of the Temptations, Wayne Newton, Big John Dickerson and Downright Tight, Prudence Johnson, Renee’ Austin, Frankie Avalon, Booka Michel, Carl Michel, R.C. Banks, Bobby Rydell, Dick King Classic Swing Band, Tommy Dorsey Big Band, Blew Monday, 5 on the 4, Mr. Pumpkinhead, Ruby Sky, Sam Miltich and the Clearwater Hot Club, The Incredible Ides and Big Dipper.

Don is excited to have the opportunity to play with Big Walter Smith and the Groove Merchants having been introduced to the band by long time band mate and friend, Tim Wick.

In this spare time Don volunteers as an on air host for KAXE 91.7 FM, a community radio station and has interviewed over 28 jazz and blues artists. For this he received the Bill McKeever Award for creativity and excellence in on air artistry. Don also keeps busy recording in his studio, Mr. Pumpkinhead Productions. With regards to “Some Of These Days,” an album Don recorded and played on with Sam Miltich and the Clearwater Hot Club, the January 2008 issue of Vintage Guitar Magazine states, “Sammo joins forces with Don Vidal, an experienced reedman who’s been around the block a few times. Together they’ve crafted a stellar collection of classics reborn with stylish playing and eloquent solos. Vidal moves between soprano, alto, tenor saxophone and bass clarinet on his arrangement of Duke Ellington’s ‘The Mooch.'”


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