Anticipation high for Springfield’s first jazz and blues festival
Add veteran artists like keyboardist Bobby Floyd, who played with Ray Charles and the Count Basie Orchestra, St. Louis bluesman Marquise Knox and Robert Mason and it’s a chance to discover and celebrate.
“Pitzarelli is a $65 ticket in most cities and you can see it here for free. You can thank Kiwanis for stepping up for that,” Stoll said.
John Legend of Springfield and several companies help sponsor the event.
A graduate of North High School who works for the Jazz at Lincoln Center educational program in New York City, Stoll helped rekindle local interest in jazz by bringing in other talented musicians for a program called Holiday Jazz Stomp in 2017 and 2018.
Stoll confessed he thought the first show would draw 50 to 75 people, but he sold out United Senior Services, which he says shows that this music is multi-generational.
In 2019 Stoll worked with the Springfield Symphony Orchestra and Music Director Peter Stafford Wilson to form the Jazz Orchestra, which drew crowds to the John Legend Theatre.
Just as this program was taking off, Rich Carey of Kiwanis approached Stoll with the idea of a jazz and blues festival in downtown Springfield. Unfortunately, it was January 2020 and the impending pandemic stalled plans.
After going through all of this, Carey sees it as a reason to step down. The primary goal is to produce an event that enhances life in the Springfield community, reflecting a diverse audience and for all sides of the city, with the park capturing the urban vibe of music while still being surrounded by grass and of trees and the word spread. .
“It’s going to be a unique Springfield atmosphere with late night jams and just a very, very cool event,” he said.
Carey credits Mother Stewart’s Kevin Loftis as the main reason the festival can go on. If the company hadn’t survived the pandemic, there wouldn’t have been a festival.
Carey said all proceeds raised will go to Kiwanis service programs for children.
Attendees must bring their own blankets or lawn chairs or may stand to watch the performances, and must arrive 30-45 minutes prior to the first act. There will be plenty of food and drink options from food trucks and vendors; visitors are prohibited from bringing their own alcoholic beverages onto the festival grounds in the park or at Mother Stewart’s.
“For anyone hungry, this is the place to be this weekend,” Carey said.
There will also be a Ridgewood Bank-sponsored children’s zone adjacent to the festival grounds which will feature inflatables and other activities for youngsters.
Parking will be available in the parking lot next to Hatch Artist Studios, Park at 99 parking lot on Fountain Ave. and the Ohio Valley Medical Center parking lot.
After each night’s performances, special jam sessions with some of the artists will take place inside Mother Stewart’s. This is a paid event and tickets will be available at the festival grounds.
Stoll said he’s thrilled with the optimism the festival brings to Springfield.
Carey has the hope, goal and plan that this weekend will be the first chapter of an annual jazz and blues festival here and he would like to see it expand to include other venues and an extra day. . People have to be ready for this one to kick it off.
“Anyone who loves music should come to this event. It’s going to be a great weekend,” he said.
For more information on the festival, visit springfieldjazzbluesfest.com.
Commons Stage: Mother’s Jazz Collective, 5 p.m.; Chris Brown Trio with George DeLancey and Willie Barthell III, 6:30; Robert Mason B3 Trio with Lauren Sevian, 8; John Pizzarelli Trio, 9:30
Scene from Mother Stewart: Larry Humphrey, 5:30 p.m.; Birdhouse, 7; Pharez Whitted, 8:30 a.m.
Commons Stage: New Basics Brass Band, 4:30 p.m.; Sydney McSweeney with Cedric Easton and Circle of Friends, 6 p.m.; Bobby Floyd Trio with Sean Jones, 7:30 p.m.; Springfield Symphony Jazz Orchestra with Samara Joy, 9 p.m.
Mother Stewart Stage: Urban Jazz Coalition, 4 p.m.; Talisha Holmes, 5:30 p.m.; Eric Jerardi, 7:00 p.m.; Marchioness Knox, 8:30 p.m.