Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

At every Clearwater Jazz Holiday since 1980, fan finally gets her wish to see Al Jarreau

Jill Chiappetta, left, Sunny Fellows, center, and Sunny’s granddaughter Christy Lynch, right, applaud after Mike MacArthur and Nate Najar finish their set Thursday at the Clearwater Jazz Holiday. Fellows, 73, has attended every year.

KATHLEEN FLYNN | Times

Jill Chiappetta, left, Sunny Fellows, center, and Sunny’s granddaughter Christy Lynch, right, applaud after Mike MacArthur and Nate Najar finish their set Thursday at the Clearwater Jazz Holiday. Fellows, 73, has attended every year.

CLEARWATER

On the opening night of the Clearwater Jazz Holiday, a cultural staple that draws tens of thousands of people to the city, Mayor Frank Hibbard took to the stage to welcome the guests downtown.

"Thirty years we've been doing this," he said at the Thursday evening ceremony. "How many people have come for 30 years?"

The gates had opened only moments before. People were still unfolding chairs, sleeping bags, tarps and blankets. He asked his question again.

"Anybody out there?"

A blond woman in the fourth row of the VIP section raised her hand.

• • •

If the Clearwater Jazz Holiday doled out awards for perfect attendance, Sunny Fellows would be one of the recipients. She has attended every one since 1980.

She has seen Dizzy Gillespie and Spyro Gyra; the Dirty Dozen Brass Band and Dave Brubeck.

She said jazz music makes her feel good. It also reminds her of her late father.

Fellows, 73, is a self-admitted daddy's girl. Del Rex Forbes was a jazz musician in the family's native Ohio. He played the jazz violin and the stand-up bass. He had a band.

"Played a lot of big-band stuff," Fellows said. "I grew up listening to the band practicing and that's how I know all the old standards and learned to love jazz."

She was living in Clearwater for about a year when she came across an announcement advertising a free jazz show at Coachman Park. She and her husband went to the nearby Seminole Boat Ramp, boarded Sundancer, their 17-foot bowrider, and watched the inaugural Jazz Holiday from the water.

"We were anchored for an hour and I said, 'This is it,' " she said. "It was pure, solid jazz. You can't get a whole lot of jazz, unfortunately."

For the first three holidays, Sunny and Ross Fellows bobbed to music from Sundancer. The year Dizzy Gillespie came, she climbed a wall so she could get a better view.

"It wasn't easy," she said. "My husband pushed me up."

Her northeast Clearwater home is plastered with Jazz Holiday posters as far back as 1983. They're framed and hung on walls in her living room and solarium.

The one from 1996 is special.

That was the year her husband died. She didn't want to go to that year's concert without him.

Friends coaxed her.

The attendance streak was unblemished.

• • •

For years, organizers of the Jazz Holiday would pass out surveys and ask patrons which performers they wanted to see.

"I always put down Al Jarreau," she said.

She got her wish on Thursday. Jarreau was the opening night headliner.

"I never thought I'd be able to actually see him," she said. "When I found out, I said, 'We're going.' "

Actually, her granddaughter Christy Lynch said, Fellows started screaming.

Fellows said she can't attend all four days of the Jazz Holiday like she used to. She has arthritis now and sometimes uses a cane. Thursday was all she could muster.

She waved her arms, sang every word of every song and stared at the stage all night long.

Rodney Thrash can be reached at rthrash@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4167.

Clearwater Jazz Holiday

Rain delayed the start of the second night of the Clearwater Jazz Holiday on Friday.

When: Through Sunday

Where: Coachman Park, downtown Clearwater

Take: Lawn chairs, blankets, sunscreen, still cameras

Don't take: Coolers, food, drinks, pets, tents, backpacks, umbrellas, audio or video recording equipment, laser pointers, skateboards

Today

2:30 p.m.: Gates open

3:15-4:30 p.m.: Gumbi Ortiz and the Latino Projekt

5-6:15 p.m.: Les Sabler

6:45-8:30 p.m.: Jazz Holiday 30th Anniversary Extreme Tribute Band

9-10:30 p.m.: Boney James

Sunday

2 p.m.: Gates open

2:30-3:30 p.m.: Youth Jazz Band with BK Jackson

4-5:30 p.m.: Marcus Roberts Trio

6-7:30 p.m.: Brian Bromberg's "It Is What It Is" Band

8-10 p.m.: Neville Brothers

Visit www.clearwaterjazz.com or call (727) 461-5200 for details.

At every Clearwater Jazz Holiday since 1980, fan finally gets her wish to see Al Jarreau 10/16/09 [Last modified: Friday, October 16, 2009 8:36pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Investigators reviewing HHS chief's private charter flights

    Politics

    WASHINGTON — Federal investigators are examining Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price's recent use of costly charter flights on the taxpayers' dime for official business.

  2. FSU gives president John Thrasher a pay bump as its academic standing rises

    College

    TALLAHASSEE — With Florida State University moving closer to becoming a top-25 public university, the school's trustees on Friday bumped up President John Thrasher's salary by 7 percent and awarded him a $200,000 bonus.

    Florida State University President John Thrasher, center, is surrounded by lawmakers in 2016 as he visits the Florida Senate. Thrasher on Friday received a pay increase to go with the university's increased academic standing, including in the latest U.S. News & World Report ranking of public universities. FSU ranks 33rd this year, and is aiming for a top-25 spot. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]

  3. Pasco driver, 66, dies in Friday crash on SR 54

    Accidents

    NEW PORT RICHEY — A 66-year-old man died Friday after he collided with oncoming traffic on State Road 54 in Pasco County, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

  4. Florida reverses decision to shield information from nursing home inspection reports

    Health

    TALLAHASSEE — Florida regulators decided Friday they will abandon the use of software that allowed them to heavily redact key words from nursing home inspection reports posted online, choosing instead to link to the more complete reports available on a federal site.

    Officials for the state Agency for Health Care Administration said Friday they will no longer use software that allowed them to heavily redact key words from nursing home inspection reports posted online. The agency has been under increased scrutiny since Sept. 13, when eight residents of The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, pictured here, died after power was lost to an air-conditioning system during Hurricane Irma. Two more residents died this week. [South Florida Sun-Sentinel]
  5. Trump's travel ban to be replaced by restrictions tailored to certain countries

    Nation

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump's ban on travelers from six majority-Muslim countries is set to be replaced as soon as this weekend with more targeted restrictions on visits to the United States that would vary by country, officials familiar with the plans told the New York Times on Friday.