February-21st-2008, 09:13 PM
Pensacola JazzFest 2008
Pensacola JazzFest 2008 now in its 25th year
It's that time of year when the Jazz Society of Pensacola presents its free gift to the city, the annual Pensacola JazzFest.
Twenty-five years ago, JSOP, The Arts Council of Northwest Florida and WUWF founded JazzFest. It has been an annual event since that time, and JSOP has been the producer since 1999.
This year's event, in Seville Square on April 5 and 6, will feature internationally known artists as well as local performers and regional youth groups.
Over the years JazzFest has attracted fans from neighboring states; many snowbirds, including Canadians, schedule their spring vacations to attend. Before my wife and I moved here from Georgia we would try to come every year to just sit in the park, enjoy a snack and a beverage and listen to great music.
The festival is always a great show with wide audience appeal.
Nationally known headliners this year include Butch Thompson's Big Three. Thompson plays Dixieland-style music and is well-known for his appearances on Prairie Home Companion. Also appearing will be The Shelly Berg Trio. Berg is an accomplished pianist who plays jazz styles from ragtime to modern. He is frequently requested as accompanist for Monica Mancini, Patti Austin and other vocalists and jazz legends.
The Jazz Guardians, an 18-member big band stationed at Army Ft. McPherson, Ga., will perform in the style of big bands of yesteryear, paying tribute to Duke Ellington, Woody Herman and Count Basie as well as contemporary big band jazz. Saxophonist Dayve Stewart, known as "Soul Man," will entertain with the smooth sounds of contemporary jazz.
Local artists include Bob Maksymkow, Holly Shelton, The Guffman Trio, Bobby VanDeusen, and the Dixieland Dandies. College groups will include the Pensacola Junior College Jazz Band and University of West Florida Jazz Band.
Although this event costs around $40,000 to produce, JSOP makes it free to the public. This is possible through merchandise, beer and wine sales, the efforts of our many volunteers, generous gifts from very special friends of jazz and wonderful support from corporate sponsors.
This year's corporate sponsors include Baptist Health Care, Budweiser, Gulf Breeze Quality Inn and Suites, Phillips/UWF Jazz Piano Competition, Fish House, Pepsi, Pensacola News Journal, Independent News, WEAR-TV, Soft Rock 94.1; E W Bullock and Associates, Tornado Fence, Ted Ciano, Southern Media and Albertson's.
All you have to do is show up at Seville Square and enjoy the music, from noon to 6 p.m. Great jazz merchandise will be available, and food, beer, wine and soft drinks may be purchased at reasonable prices.
Seating is available, or you are welcome to bring your own blanket or chair. It is fun for the whole family, but leave your dogs at home to comply with a city ordinance.
Successful festivals such as Pensacola JazzFest are good for Pensacola and deserve community support. Learn more by visiting the JSOP Web site at www.jazzpensacola.com.
Chuck Minnich is a member of the board of directors of The Jazz Society of Pensacola, event chairman of JazzFest 2008 and a resident of Pensacola.