For the love of "Doc"

For the love of "Doc"
MOSCOW - For over 30 years his name has been attached to the jazz festival that bears another's name.

The annual gathering of jazz professionals and jazz students is called the Lionel Hampton International Jazz Festival. It's named after the man they called "Hamp."

But the man they call "Doc" played as big or bigger a role in making the week-long festival what it is today.

Wednesday night in downtown Moscow there were swinging sounds going down, but this get together was all about Dr. Lynn Skinner, affectionately known by his admirers as "Doc."

Skinner served as executive director of the festival for the past 31 years. He's credited with laying the foundation for what's arguably become the largest educational jazz festival in the world.

Skinner officially retired June 30, 2006, but will be serving as a part-time consultant for this year's festival.

Wednesday night he was honored at a Community Appreciation Party. Dignitaries were on hand, including Skinner's successor, jazz bassist and new festival Artistic Director John Clayton.

Skinner was presented with a clock as a token of the university's appreciation for his decades of service, and then had this to say about the outpouring of love from people who paid to attend the event and then stood up, praising their friend and colleague.

"It's an incredible feeling of support and love for so many people, and for my dear family and for their support all these years, how I've appreciated them and all the wonderful things that have been shared tonight,” said Skinner. “It's been a great experience, and I can't help but thank the university and all the wonderful artists and friends, and the communities around here that have supported their children and have helped make this festival what it is today. Thank you so much."

On Thursday crews were busy getting the stage ready for the second of four big concerts presented at the Kibbie Dome. "Doc" Skinner was on hand for the sound check as he has been for all these years.

He will always be the man remembered for making the festival what it is today. But he said the man he's passing the torch to, John Clayton, will do a good job.

"John's an incredible friend and when Hamp passed away four years ago he said, ‘Now, Doc, when it's time, be ready to (pass) the torch,’” said Skinner. “So, it's glowing bright, very brightly right now, and John's ready to pick up part of it and start to move it forward."