The Music Man discovers Cedar City

By Dawn M. Aerts

Iron County Today

Yes, sometimes ‘legends’ can walk through the door.

Since Dale Heit, and his wife Jolene opened their Cedar Music Studio over 16 years ago a lot of students have come for lessons, practiced, and pursued their talents.  Many of them were beginners, says Heit, while some were accomplished musicians aiming to hone their skills, or to master another instrument.

“I would say that our customers are mostly families with kids (ages 5 on up), and teenagers, or sometimes people well into their 60’s,” says Heit from a chair situated behind the sales counter — “Not exactly a rock-band clientele, but there are exceptions with some impressive talent.”

Heit, a former educator and native Californian says he has always enjoyed teaching and mentoring.  He has a knack for working with young people as he pairs students with seasoned teachers and provides budding musicians with his best advice on selecting the right instrument or the right method.

Even so, it caused quite a stir when Bobby Morris walked through the door.

In fact, he says nothing could have prepared Heit for the impromptu visit by the legendary ‘Vegas’ Band Leader, conductor and drummer, The Bobby Morris.  “I have to say I have seen my share of (Utah) talent stop in over the years,” says Heit of the meeting, but it isn’t often you see the caliber of Morris walk in the door.

It was Morris who literally invented the ‘Prima Shuffle,’ drummed for superstars like Louis Prima, Bobby Daren and Buddy Rich – not to mention ‘handling’ Las Vegas Acts with Nat “King” Cole, Sinatra and Elvis Presley.  “So here was this famous (house) band leader and drummer,” says Heit of the man who embodies an encyclopedia of Las Vegas lore.

While Heit is proud to say that this store has always been a family-oriented operation — offering classes in everything from piano and violin, to guitar, drums and ukulele, it is mostly a ‘hub’ for local musicians, and not quite a center for stars.

But Morris just wanted to get behind a drum set and play. “Initially he was interested in giving some lessons, and maybe working with young people,” said Heit of the studio.  But it wasn’t long before Heit and local musician, Derrick Adams (Most Wanted Band) decided to feature Morris in a musical venue for the community.

“Unfortunately there weren’t any comparable drum players with Morris’s level of talent here, so the consensus was to organize a ‘Band Clinic’ for one night that fall,” says Heit, “it took us about a month to put it together, and was designed to give students and the community an opportunity to see a legend on stage.”

While Heit admits that he doesn’t expect students to turn into concert-level performers, he does want to encourage their talent and interest.  “Our mission at the studio has always been to give students the skills and confidence that they need throughout their lives – And this ‘Drum Clinic’ was all about sharing his career and success.”

Heit has both taught and encouraged excellence among local musicians.  “Morris really wanted to work with students one to one, but his caliber was way beyond the norm for most communities, (drummers) so with the help of local musicians, we secured a venue, and set up the equipment,” says Heit of the clinic.

As a long-time educator, Heit understands the power of music.  “I believe that if a student can master a skill, if they can find confidence in that, they will go on to other goals and succeed.”

But that isn’t the end of the story.

“What most impressed me about him — for all of his experience and the caliber of people he worked with, Morris is a truly down-to-earth guy with a lot of humility about his life and talents.”  And Heit is looking forward to seeing Morris featured once again, in an upcoming appearance at Southern Utah University (SUU) and Band Clinic next spring.

“Unfortunately, we’re not going to see another legend like Bobby Morris walk through the door anytime soon.”

Photo Caption:  Dale and Jolene Heit, Cedar Music Store & Studio, describe legendary drummer and promoter, Bobby Morris as one of many Greats who made Las Vegas shine.  The legendary drummer, conductor and promoter for stars like Elvis Presley, Buddy Rich, Frank Sinatra and others will be featured in a special appearance with the SUU (Jazz) Orchestra and in a band clinic to be held next spring.




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