Monday, May 30, 2011

Scene at the Jacksonville Jazz Festival

Every year since moving here from Denver, I have promised myself I would attend the Jacksonville Jazz Festival and somehow missed it. So during Memorial Day weekend this year I resolved to attend. What I discovered is that the event is the second or third largest Jazz festival in the nation, depending on the reporting source; one of the few that is free, and some really big names in Jazz have always performed here.

There was so much to see, hear, and do that this is the first of a 3 part feature to highlight the scene and some of the videos I took of the event. As usual, click each photo for a better view.

I really loved this year's slogan "Can you hear it yet?" because the middle of downtown was blocked off and four venues were located at various points. People were encouraged to park at an outlying location and take the people mover train into downtown (coming from Denver where these trains are everywhere, it was a good move to let the locals see how the system can work as it is rarely used). As soon as the train arrived downtown you instantly understood the meaning of the slogan because music was everywhere and you are struck by the press of people.

And just as I was moving through the crowd I was drawn to a face. I rarely do portraits but this face was like an angel walking. She was gracious in allowing me to take her picture. I hope I did it justice because this young woman was quite striking.

Adding to my good fortune, her friend and hair stylist was there as well to enjoy Jazz on a warm afternoon. They make a great looking couple!

I was there for the Roy Ayers concert near the front of City Hall (you will get a listen in a later blog). After a short wait the sun went down, it began to cool off, and City Hall took on a look that seemed to whisper "Slow down and just enjoy the sounds."

The set-up was the perfect setting for Jazz into the night and I also learned the national nature of the event. I met a man from Brooklyn, NY who had come down for the festival, and a great couple from South Carolina.

Here they are dancing into the night. I used my flash to make certain I got a good shot of them because he was a wealth of information both about the performances and locations to scout
later in South Carolina.

I have definitely become a convert to the festival because the line-up of performers was a Jazz lovers dream (Natalie Cole, Boney James, George Duke, David Sanborn, Herbie Hancock, Roy Ayers, and McCoy Tyner to name a few). I could hardly wait for the next day of the three day festival.

And, the event gave me a new sense of pride in Jacksonville. That my city could put together such an organized and fun festival made me look upon it in a totally different light. But more than anything I have to give a special thanks to all the people who worked so hard to make the event work. Like this transport Supervisor, Kenny Williams, who went the extra mile to get people on the right train and filled in the gap when things did not go as planned. If no one else said it, I'm saying "Thank You" for a job well done!

And, just to add to the fun, here is a time lapse view of the "Swinging Stage" set-up:

Next blog... video highlights from the performances!


  1. Cherrie,

    You are soooo lucky to live in the area. I can't wait for the next pictures.

  2. Sounds like a fun event and a great lineup!