There was almost NOT going to be a Jazz Fest This Year...
Ok I said It.
I contemplated not saying it aloud, because I want to keep this brief and not bore you with the all of the details, but there are a few sections of the story worth being told and I am so grateful to Almighty God to be able to tell it, for so many reasons.
As I write this at 4:09AM, hyped up on coffee, I am full of energy and joy AND I am extremely thankful to my "lil sis," Lyndsey Hughes who didn't give up even as she repeatedly jumped through some serious hoops to make YJF a reality. I also want to thank Mr. Dominic Gatta, who stepped in at the 11th hour to see to it that progressive moves were made (and are still in motion) to satisfy the litany of agreements it takes to even have a jazz fest!
The Niayana Recordings
Crew deserves special praise for being able to navigate between the constantly changing information, partially thinking I thinking I was schizophrenic, because information was literally changing by the second - and once we'd make a decision, we would have to re-make it and go a different direction and back again. All of this atop the demands of producing Second Sundays
would slay an average human being, Thank God this team is superhuman!
Thanks also to Lori Factor and Phil Moore for not abandoning YJF when they clearly could have, due to political and budgetary fall out which are all apart of the communal landscape.
As you can imagine, there are plenty more people to thank and I promise to do so in the days forthcoming, but it's important to note some of the important changes that have taken place:THE LOCATION
: While we were grateful for the years at Harrison Common, the location would not allow us to adequately welcome Food, Beverage & Merchant Vendors that allow for the appropriate celebratory diversity which make jazz fests so unique. Additionally, certain establishments were gaining an unfair advantage due to location and our desire was for YJF to create opportunities for all merchants to benefit from the event.
Downtown Federal Plaza is a wonderful location and personally, I have enjoyed performing on the square many times. The atmosphere is always electric and exciting.THE DAY
: Generally, Saturday was the
designated day for YJF and we wanted to keep our wonderful association with Summer Festival of the Arts
. Aligning our schedule with Mr. Whalum's was difficult. We needed to adhere to some strict guidelines and admittedly missed a few, but were able to work everything out for Sunday. We are confident that everyone who knows anything about Jazz is going to make their way into Federal Plaza to be blessed by this one of a kind legendary sax sensation - AND also bring their family and friends!THE FEE
: This was a personal sore spot. Our original vision was to keep YJF a free event for our community. We were blessed to be able to accomplish what we did without losing our shirts, but it takes a significant amount of money to pay the bills of this magnitude. How do we continue to build up the stature of national acts while staying out of the red zone?? Either we secure a mega sponsor or we attach a fee. There were several indicators which allowed us to discern that our community would pay for quality entertainment - so we sought to bring the highest level of entertainment available!
Albeit, it was important to stay sensitive to the price point, which is why we built an Early Bird price of just $15 BEFORE June 7th. Then the price moves up to $20.
As you can imagine, the expense of bringing an artist of such high caliber is worth the amount their artistry commands. Our desire is that such entertainment becomes the norm for the Youngstown area and we endeavor to make sure it remains
Family Friendly and Full of Fun! So Jump on it NOW!!
Finally, I feel an obligation to offer an apology to the many great bands and artists who contacted us from near and far and wanted to be a part of this event. It's great to know that YJF is becoming known as a staple in our community and believe me, these artists who sent in their videos and media kits were cream of the crop!
We are presently working on a Pre-Party, in which we can put a couple of those acts on stage - which while not completely satisfying everyone, will garner some exposure to those who perform and fire up the party atmosphere to get ready for an evening with Kirk Whalum
Until Next Post,
Peace & Blessings!