I've just posted Part Two of my interview with James Lloyd of Pieces of a Dream. I truly appreciated the opportunity to sit down with him, knowing how busy his schedule was. James was generous is sharing the early days of POAD, What & WHO made him decide to settle down in the Youngstown Ohio area and the changes he's observed in the Music Industry. We are happy to present Piece of a Dream as our Special Guests and are anticipating a Magnificent Show!
The Energy is Building, Our Team is Electrified and the Buzz on the Street is heightening. It is really interesting to think that last year we only had five (5) weeks to prepare. We saw an opportunity and JUMPED on It. This year, what with the extended time and the strengthening of our association with the Mahoning County Visitor's Bureau, The City of Youngstown and YSU how wonderful an event we are planning for you. If you DIG Jazz of various genres and contexts, Harrison Common WILL BE the Only Place to Be!
On March 15th, we'll be announcing all of the Incredible Artists & Bands who'll be setting the evening on fire!
We are so grateful for all of the submissions we received and frankly had an exhausting time narrowing it down to the Fabulous Five we've selected - but of those who are hitting the stage, from the renown to those lesser known, Saturday July 7th WILL BE and Evening you won't soon forget.
Remember, the 2012 Youngstown Jazz Fest is a FREE, Family Friendly Event. If you remember last year, you should be taking every precaution to arrive early to get a good spot, because we are anticipating that those prime spaces will be gone. The Music Begins at 5pm.
Do I sound excited??
We Are Completely Blown Away!!!!
and by this, we mean WOW!!
Everything was Perfect!
Perfect Weather, People, Attendance, Bands, Production Crew, Emcees, Atmosphere, Facilities, Volunteers...We can't think of one single thing that went wrong - or even threatened to disengage us from our task of putting on a great event!
You ___________________(insert your name) are to be commended and we applaud YOU!
Thank You for taking the chance on our first efforts to put on an event of this magnitude. We knew that the potential for this event could really be something Unique for the Youngstown Area, but to see and experience the overwhelming results are just absolutely encouraging!!
I would personally like to thank Lori Factor, Phil Moore & Lyndsey Hughes for the initial conversations and subsequently placing their trust in Niayana Recordings abilities to pull this off. There was never any pressure or tediousness on any of our parts - we made an excellent team even during moments that stretched us beyond what we thought we were capable of. With Lori having the added pressure of the two day Summer Arts Fest, she worked tirelessly to keep every T Crossed and Each "I" dotted - how excellent. (Uncle) Phil being the ultimate "Can Do" man was invaluable to the process and Lyndsey was not only the icing on the cake, but the strawberries too. Thank You So Very Much!
The Volunteers were & are second to none. Indescribable!! As I said on my Facebook Page, Dana Dumas, Dale Fisher, Adrian Watson, Rose Marie Mezzapeso, Rinky Rinko & Paul Oder led a Great Team & Are the Real Heroes of the Jazz Fest!
Brett & Tommy & Cindy and a few people I can't even name stepped up to the plate in the final seconds to make this event what it was and if we had a budget of millions, it would only be peanuts - as their Spirit, Professionalism, Expertise and Attention to detail were off the charts. I personally had nothing to worry about - for even one (1) second!!
The Artists: Phillip K Jones, Antoinette, Sam Blakeslee, Chico's Quintet and SounDoctrine - never mind the fact that I perform with SD - were all outrageous!! What tremendous caliber of music and excellent artistry was displayed. Those guys had so heated the stage that by the time SD donned our instruments, the atmosphere was electric!! Please - Triple Please - Visit each of these Artists websites, download their schedules and if you did not have a chance at the fest - please purchase and support their great music. Often for indie artists, CD Sales, Downloads & Performing are the ONLY way these musicians earn their living. So Thank You for doing all you can to support and encourage them (us)!!
Very Special Thanks to Catrell - who immediately became the percussionist for practically every band!! This guy can GO!! Initially he was a part of Antoinette's ensemble, but then Chico enlisted him for a tune and SounDoctrine agreed he should rock with us for the entire set - Thoroughly Amazing!!! Thanks Bro!
Let's talk about the Emcees for A Minute...as you may have known, we began to publicize very prominently that WKBN's Teresa Weakley was to Emcee our Event. Due to personal aspects beyond her control, she was unable to do so, but afforded us time during her 5PM broadcast to promote the fest. In addition, fellow anchor Dave Sess stepped right in to pinch hit on her behalf. As an added bonus, while we were looking to include a co-host for Dave, we were at a complete loss for the right person, preferably a personable woman who'd be able to engage & entertain the crowd during performance transitions. After a conversation with my eldest daughter about our predicament, she immediately offered, "Call Tara Amil." I was a little hesitant, due to the fact that although Tara had recorded and performed with SounDoctrine in the past, she's relatively private and prefers to remain in the background. "But," my daughter Tejai offered, "She is a Middle School Teacher, She HAS to hold their attention for eight hours a day, she speaks very well, is attractive and is enable to engage a crowd." So I called Tara (this was FRIDAY, mind you) - by virtue of the fact that she did not slam the phone down on me after the first 45 seconds, gave me a little confidence that she was in. After I sent her the script - we were on - and she was a COMPLETE NATURAL!! In fact, if I had not told this story here, no one would know that she had less than 24 hours to prepare for the event. Dave & Tara were perfect together - Another WOW!!
Speaking of Press & Promotion - Tremendous Thanks to Madonna Chism-Pinkard of WFMJ-TV21's "Community Connection," Andy Gray of The Tribune Chronicle & Town Criers, Guy D'Astalfo & John Cruz of The Youngstown Vindicator along with Morris Ray of 570 WKBN Radio and WKBN TV27 for the outstanding coverage you afforded us!!
Special Thanks to Mark Tirabassi & Hubbard Music and to Jimmy & The Crew for Providing the Sound Equipment, Backline and The Incredible Lights - Everything was done promptly & professionally and not ONE Technical Difficulty - AWESOME
Much Love to Kim N Hines of Onenessound who mixed the show and EVERYTHING was crystal clear - you could hear every single little tiny thing. Absolute Perfection!!
Thank Also to Forty Two Inc which supplied the much needed Scrim & Tarp to make the stage beautiful and to Showtyme Exhibits for the Risers and Tents that made all of the difference. Oh Yeah and THANK YOU to the People from the 5K Race who afforded us the opp to utilize the Portable Bathrooms for the comfort of every one concerned....need I say more?
YSU Parking and Additional Support Personnel, coupled with The Youngstown Police Department kept the order - but here's the beauty - Not ONE Single Incidence of ANY Drama. Not ONE Official Complaint. Not ONE Moment of Irritation from the time we arrived (around 9:30 AM for set up) until we Hubbard Music left the grounds well after midnight!
Obviously, we could not have even put a single band onstage or pay for any of the production without our Platinum Sponsor, Mr. Mike Naffah - owner of Inner Circle Pizza (Canfield) The Embassy & Hampton Inn & Suites (Canfield) and Our Gold Sponsor, Mr. Mike Olson of Olfield Graphics. Mr. Jerry Thompson of VOCAL fed our Artists & Crew and the Casesses Family owned MVR for supporting this major undertaking.
Again we are truly grateful!
What we are asking you to do is to post your comments here - Of Course, we'd like to make next year even bigger and a far better experience. We'd appreciate your suggestions on the schedule, the bands you'd like to see - being mindful that we are giving first consideration to Independent Bands - and anything you can think of that we might be able to improve upon - we welcome and encourage your input. By All Means - Follow Me on Twitter (Jere B) and Befirend Me on Facebook. I Always respond!
Finally, I want to personally thank My Lord & Savior Jesus Christ. I prayed over this event from day one. I asked for His Help, Guidance, Wisdom & Strength and was afforded it without fail or delay. I had peace that this event was successful and I give Him all The Glory for allowing me to be able to participate.
I look forward to seeing you again next year!!
Six Days & Counting!
We're rounding third and headed to the stage. All of the Artists are in their final rehearsals and preparing a mesmerizing set just for you! Please See The Schedule Below, But Plan to Enjoy The Whole Show - You Don't Wanna Miss One Act!
Please Note that for the finale, there will be a Huge Jam Session featuring The Artists and Other Notable Musicians from the area to groove you to an incredible conclusion. I do have to place a disclaimer here by saying that the line up may be subject to change but I'm confident that it's gonna flow like fresh water.
Also Remember That Each Artist will be offering their music for sale. Please Support Each or All!
6:00 – PHILLIP K JONES QUARTET
6:45 – ANTOINETTE
7:35 – SAM BLAKESLEE QUARTET
8:15 – CHICO’S QUINTET
9:05 – SOUNDOCTRINE
10:20 – ALL ARTIST JAM FINALE
An Additional Note on The Parking Issue - Remember we did touch on this in a previous blog, but this one is especially for those of you who may be coming to the Jazz Fest directly from The Summer Festival of the Arts:
Harrison Common is located on Walnut Street across from the MVR. All of the streets surrounding Harrison Common will be closed. The best way to get to the Youngstown Jazz Fest is to enter the YSU Wick Avenue deck from Wick Avenue. If you park on the third level there is easy access behind the McDonough Museum of Art and down the steps to Harrison Common. Or, park on the bottom level and easily walk out directly on to Harrison Common. You may also arrive early, attend the Summer Festival of the Arts, walk across Wick Avenue and down the steps along side the McDonough Museum. Watch for the Youngstown Jazz Fest signs directing you.
Originally from Columbus, OH, Sam Blakeslee has recently finished his classes at YSU and is set to graduate in August. Sam is a member of Mojo: The Generations Big Band, Dennis Reynoldsʼ Heritage Jazz Orchestra, and Ron Chickʼs Friends Big Band. He has also been very active on the Cleveland freelance scene where he has had the pleasure to play with the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra, Sean Jones, Jim Rupp, The Paul Ferguson Jazz Orchestra, Ernie Krivdaʼs Big Fat Tuesday Big Band, Up Ensemble, Bobby Sanabria, Carol Morgan, Bobby Selvaggioʼs Hendectet, The Brad Wagner Sextet, Dave Morgan, Nathan Douds, Theron Brown, Chris Coles, and also has recorded with the pop group O.A.R.
" In the spring of 2010, Sam was chosen to be one of fifteen people nationwide to attend the Steans Institute for the Young Artist at Ravinia where he studied with Rufus Reid, Curtis Fuller, Dr. Nathan Davis, and Dr. David Baker. In the summer of 2010 Sam performed at the Parma Jazz Festival in Parma, Italy with an alumni group from the Columbus Youth Jazz Orchestra. His arrangement of the bassist George Mrazʼ composition "Blues For Sarka" was performed by the University of Akron Jazz Ensemble in a concert that featured George Mraz as a guest artist.
This past April he was accepted into Betty Carterʼs Jazz Ahead Residency at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C where he had the chance to study with Curtis Fuller, Dr. Nathan Davis, George Cables, Chip Jackson, and Carmen Lundy.
Through that residency he performed on the Millennium Stage to a worldwide audience.
Upon graduation Sam plans to attend the University of Akron on a graduateassistantship and then move to New York City.An Incredible Bio from someone so young. So Many Names to Drop, So Much Time toward Serious Study, but I'm not easily impressed. Does he have heart, emotion, integrity, spirit, emphasis, strength and the only component that really matters is Jazz...can he swing???You can rest assured Brother & Sister Jazz Fan, that component alone is why Sam Blakeslee is kicking off this year's Fest.The Brother Can Blow....
Today Marks Two Weeks to Go Before The Big Jazz Fest gets underway and the excitement is B U I L D I N G ! ! !
Today was also the day our very wonderful volunteers met for the first time under the Pergola on The Common to Assign & Accept our various responsibilities for game day. No stone was left uncovered as we thoroughly scoured our agenda. There was excellent Q&A, great camaraderie and eager anticipation about what's about to happen.
My deepest appreciation to Rose Marie, Adrian, Dana (Our New Boss!), Dale, Lori & Paul (...and Tom) who are going to spearhead the entire team and make sure things run triple smooth so you can experience Youngstown's Best. On Stage & Off!
Subtle, Sensuous, Sincere.
To be able to take a song, a phrase, a word... and personalize it yet while doing so, retaining the ability to transform that moment into a captivating experience to listener. We each have our favorite. You are about to add one to your list.
Her Music, Lyrics, Emotion and Style carry with them the truth that she believes what's she's singing. With Material ranging from Dionne to Sade to Roberta to her own sensational "Life Songs," Antoinette expresses her heart. Her debut, "Verbal Crush" was produced by none other than Norman "You Are My Starship" Connors with an emotional single featuring R&B icon Howard Hewitt burning up the airwaves, Antoinette was on her way. Her follow up "Curious Life" with Grammy Award Winning Producer Roger Hatfield continues her love for genre bending Adult Contemporary Jazz.
Although Antoinette is bringing flavor from her native Pittsburgh, her Jazz Fest Line Up will include Hatfield on saxophone, himself a long time Trumbull County resident now living in Southwest Ohio promoting his new release "Faster Buffalo." She will also feature the incomparable Youngstown Jazz Legend Cliff Barnes on Piano and his cool brother Nate on Bass.
Get Ready for The Chill of Your Life with Antoinette!
As I write this we are just 19 Days Away from the Jazz Fest and Excitement continues to Rise. As You May Know, The Summer Festival of the Arts, The Greek Festival, The Tour of The Valley Bike Race and many other great events are making for an incredibly Wonderful Weekend in Downtown Youngstown! And As you can imagine, parking is going to be, well, let's just say, interesting...
So thanks to a 3D Map from the YSU website, I'm going to aid you in securing parking that would be to your best advantage so you make the absolute most of the weekend particularly (and the Jazz Fest specifically!)
Please Click the Image Below to see the 3D formation of YSU. It will open in a new page so you can continue to read along while viewing the map (depending upon your browser). It is an interactive map so that you can click on a certain building or section to 'zoom in' to your perspective area. Special Thanks to YSU for the use of their great map!
Please notice immediately the bottom of the map. See Walnut Street (lower left) - See "M15" & "M14" - These Are Parking Lots you will be able to Park In - Please Note: The Street will be closed just beyond "M14." The Next Building You See is The MVR. The larger adjacent Building (to the right) is The Parking Deck "M1" - BUT - You Can Only Access it via Wick Ave - And there IS a Parking Charge in that facility - However, as you can see - after parking, you will be able to enter down onto Walnut and across the street onto Harrison Common - (Note: that property is presently unmarked - but it's right there!)
Please Understand Again - For Clarity - that the perimeter around the Common will be closed off to thru traffic - the only vehicles permitted will be security, bands, production crew and festival volunteers. The Parking Lot immediately adjacent to The Common will be for those vehicles only. There are houses in the vicinity and, of course, the University Courtyard Apartments. Those vehicles will be appropriately routed for the advantage of those residents. I Do Hope This Helps
Finally, I was reminded to share that although The Jazz Fest is a Family Event, unfortunately Fido should be encouraged to remain at home. You can always keep the Music on For Him/Her and Hook them up with downloads from the tremendous artists performing at the fest, so Fido won't feel so left out!.
Tonight I felt I should offer a brief explanation about why we picked the wonderful artists we've chosen for this year's Jazz Fest - and OK, I guess a degree of transparency is in order, being that I am a musician - and that it's no secret that I am personally involved with one of the groups appearing.
Having had the opportunity to tour, perform overseas and to participate at length with some "Major Label" Artists, most of which were pleasant experiences, some not so much; what's incredibly obvious from those instances is that while The Majors always (and perhaps - SHOULD - note: I did say perhaps) get the most exposure, biggest paychecks, best dressing rooms and all of the perks in similar jazz festivals, the utter disparity between 'the little' artists who are in most instances far more talented and professional than the Major Label dudes they are opening up for is sometimes mind-boggling (think Twilight Zone...)
So, when presented with the task to choose the entertainment, I thought a different approach should be implemented. With Spyro Gyra's brilliant display of why they've been trendsetters in Modern Jazz for the past 30 years last year, coupled with the tenacity of David Benoit's aggressive band still in my head, I knew I had to come up with a "Killer Line Up" that, still somewhat under the radar of Star Status (although, each group has performed or recorded with an artist of note) would absolutely WOW You with their performance prowess. I also wanted to put together a show that would rival what the larger surrounding cities are presenting, while simultaneously appealing to every sub-genre that Jazz has to offer...only with completely INDEPENDENT ARTISTS!
Yes, that's right, each of these Artists have No Major Label Funding, No International Distribution, No Corporate Pocketbooks backing them - but each and everyone of them have to sing for their supper each night by doing their own booking, promotion, management & marketing and selling their product from city to city while playing their patooties off, honing their craft.
Through this blog, you'll get to know a little more about each one and I invite you to visit their websites (Click The Bands Tab on This Site) and purchase their music in advance, so you'll have the pleasure of enjoying them while you wait for them to light up the stage.
To whet your whistle a little - check out the video below by Phillip K Jones II - a Graduate of Oberlin College Conservatory, this young, unsung genius of the piano plays a famous hymn three different ways - Gospel, Classical & Jazz - yet - he's not represented by a "major" - so Niayana Recordings picked him up (another company I have some dealings with) and we are certainly happy to present him to you. You're going to Love The Video - You're Going to Appreciate his God Given Talent - AND You're certainly going to go bananas over the band he brings to town on July 9th.
This Year's Jazz Fest promises to foster a Family Friendly, Easy Going, Comfortable Environment where the Community can just Come Together and Hang Out!!
Firstly, it's a FREE Event. Yup! All this Great Entertainment purely for the benefit of Enjoying Each Other's Company! I don't want to get too sentimental here, but jazz music in all of its complexities is simply about collaboration. The musicians & singers gather onstage to new find ways to explore harmony and (musically) discuss (chord) progressions, expansion and interpret rhythm & melody. So we wanted to create an atmosphere where interaction between the artists & the audience - and the audience among themselves is optimal. Feel Free to bring your Lawn Chairs, Your Blankets, Your Beach Umbrellas (to shield the sun) and be prepared to pick out your own spot on the lawn to get comfortable.
We also personally invite you to bring your Entire Family. Bring The Children. Bring The Grandparents! Let the Youth experience the truth of trained musicians playing their instruments and the variety of colors that jazz brings to the musical palette. There's going to be music for those from 8 to 89 and it will be an experience the family should appreciate together.
For that reason, we have been intentional about making the Harrison Common an Alcohol Free Zone. For those who wish to indulge, you may do so across the street at The MVR Restaurant, but you will not be permitted to bring your alcoholic purchases on The Commons. The MVR Management has been kind enough to make special provisions on their property where you will still be able to enjoy the music while enjoying your beverage.
Food will also be available for purchase at The MVR. Their delicious variety of sandwiches and entrees will be just what you need to chow down as the grooves fill the night.
Finally, Jazz is also about Friendship! Rest assured that you are in a Safe, Clean, Well Maintained Space to Meet New Friends and deepen seasoned relationships. It's going to be the Greatest Jazz Fest in Our City's history, because You've chosen to Participate!