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Clearwater Jazz Holiday: 30 years of musical memories

With the Clearwater Jazz Holiday celebrating its 30th year, we asked readers to share some of their favorite memories of Jazz Holidays past. Here's what they had to say:

The Jazz Holiday is a special gift from God as it was five years ago when my husband and I attended on our anniversary, Oct. 18th, and the Neville brothers expressed songs of joy.

We are attending again this year as we travel from the Land of Enchantment, New Mexico, to spend time with family.

I have felt God's blessing at this glorious waterfront atmosphere in Clearwater as we celebrate our sacramental love.

This holiday restores our soul and reminds us of what is truly important in life, those things that are free and abundant! Our faith, our family and jazz music!

Kerry Ann Lindberg , Albuquerque, N.M.

• • •

Waiting to see Kenny G come on to the stage, I had just sat down in my chair and set a full beer in the cup holder.

Suddenly, my chair was grabbed from behind and tipped to the left, spilling my beer all over me and the chair. I jumped up quickly so I didn't land on the ground and stood, turned around and was face to face with Kenny G, who had entered from behind the audience instead of onto the stage.

So there I stood soaked in beer along with my chair looking into the face of Kenny G. I had almost stepped on his foot trying to get out of the way of my spilled beer. It was a thrill being that close to the opening star of the jazz festival, but for the rest of the night I had to sit in a wet chair with wet cloths smelling like a brewery.

I wasn't the only one to have their chair tipped over. It would have been nice if we had been forwarned that Kenny G was coming up behind us all, so we could have moved. Not a word of warning was given to anyone, but after my chair and the next chair in front of me was tipped out of the way, the rest of the audience became aware of where Kenny G, was coming from.

I will never forget the year Kenny G was at the jazz festival, because I was face to face with him and I was soaked with beer.

Donald Haynes, Clearwater

• • •

My most memorable jazz moment was when Kenny G was here. He was back behind one of the beverage tents tuning up to walk between the crowd. I asked for his autograph, which he gave me. He signed one of my beverage tickets. Which I still have. I was in the right place at the right time.

Roxanne Flukes, Tarpon Springs

• • •

Arriving here in 1977, I've been able to enjoy almost every year's Jazz Holiday. The 1989 incarnation stands out in my mind for one particular reason: a beautiful young (22) lass that I had met just prior to the "Holiday" and the Sunday night performance was our first "date."

In hindsight, I don't believe I've ever been more "in love" and I'm sorry to say the artists didn't get all of my attention that night.

In the early stages of love, being impressive seems to be a great priority and I was SO proud of our jazz event, I thought for sure she would be bowled over! She was and I made big points that night! Thanks, jazz fest!

Robin Rothwell, Clearwater

• • •

In 1985, I met a beautiful young lady who had just moved here from West Virginia. Altogether smitten, I realized that my only hope was to muster enough courage to ask her for a date and make an extraordinary first impression.

What could be more romantic than live jazz with Clearwater Harbor as a backdrop? Oct. 18 found us at Coachman Park on brightly colored beach chairs, enjoying grouper sandwiches and Mose Allison on piano.

Maribeth is now my wife of 20 years. The Jazz Holiday provided a perfect setting and holds a special place in our family history.

Matthew Trill, Largo

• • •

My best memory at Coachman Park's Jazz Holiday is seeing hundreds of volunteers respond in 1982 to help stuff a 100-foot long nylon rainbow and its tubes with thousands of helium balloons.

The rainbow was the coolest logo for Buddy Verdi's Orchestra and their rendition of Somewhere Over the Rainbow.

When we got it donated, we had no idea about the work it would take to fill the balloons, tie them and get them inside the tubes to make it rise over the park.

After a day of work by hundreds of volunteers, it still wouldn't rise over the park pulled by human power. So we thought of an alternative.

To the streams of Buddy Verdi's notes of Somewhere over the Rainbow and the help of one of our bucket trucks, we all watched as the rainbow rose in the sky above the park. It took several tries, but doesn't every worthwhile challenge? Thanks to everyone who gave time and money to make Clearwater Jazz Holiday a reality.

Cary Stiff, co-founder Clearwater Jazz Holiday

• • •

I had just moved to Clearwater. My parents, locals for 10 years, always attended. For them, it was a time to celebrate good music, good food and friendly conversation with other jazz fans they had developed a kinship with.

Although both my parents have passed on, I've carried on the tradition — pack up the cooler, lawn chair, wine, hors d'oeuvres; find a shady spot, chat, star gaze, catch a cool breeze, and some cool jazz. When the music gets red hot, I know I'll feel them out there in the crowd jazzin' it up.

Richard Morea, Dunedin

• • •

Thirty years ago, we began the annual pilgrimage to Coachman Park, armed with blankets, chairs, a picnic supper and the anticipation of Buddy, Dizzy and other live wonders!

It was a glorious family time, attending every day of the festival. Some years, after the children grew up and the husband flew off, I volunteered for the event. Then, they fenced off the park, lined it with overpriced booths serving less than nutritious foods and drinks and generally took away the friendly openness.

I have not been back in years, choosing to attend events in Safety Harbor, Dunedin and other open venues.

Judith Overcash, Safety Harbor

• • •

Through good fortune, I was a neighbor of Don Mains and worked closely with the Clearwater Chamber of Commerce.

It was a pleasure as director of sales for the Sandcastle Hotel to be chairman of the dance at the Sheraton Sand Key that Woody Herman played for during Jazz Holiday. For seven years, Dottie Cavalero-Swinehart and I worked along with so many others on this wonderful celebration.

One year, Don decided to have a huge cloth rainbow made and on the opening day all the attendees filled a huge rainbow with helium balloons so that when the Buddy Verdi Orchestra played Somewhere Over the Rainbow, the rainbow would fly over the bay. First try was a dud. We stuffed more balloons in and Buddy played again. After four tries, someone boarded a cherrypicker and lifted the rainbow as high as it would go.

Everyone cheered and the orchestra was able to play the full chorus.

In "those days," we would bring blankets, candles, our food and wine and love for our beautiful Clearwater. What a super great time Don, Carrie and many others provided! Thanks for the memories!

Dee Ray Crews, Clearwater

• • •

For approximately 20 years, we have been attending the Clearwater Jazz Holiday. We have many memories that are nice to recall.

When we could bring our cooler, we would spend the full day on Saturdays, even leaving to walk to and from church and returning to everything remaining in place. Not even a corner of our blanket would be moved.

Of course, we'd trade goodies with those at blankets nearby. Our son once got a shock of his life as we stood talking, he got his butt tweaked by some young girls passing by! Fun times!

Lois and John Bavlish, Dunedin

Clearwater Jazz Holiday: 30 years of musical memories 10/14/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 14, 2009 8:58pm]

    

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