Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Diehards are back for Clearwater Jazz Holiday's first day


There's one thing you need to know about Clearwater Jazz Holiday diehards: Nothing — absolutely nothing — comes between them and their jazz.

Not midterms.

"I told my instructor that I didn't want to be late for Al Jarreau," said Carol Taylor, a student at the Ultimate Medical Academy in Clearwater. "He said, 'You can take the exam a little early.' "

Not work.

"I'm self-employed," Seminole's Richard Cardone said. "I am the boss."

Not even invasive medical procedures.

"I had shoulder surgery about six weeks ago," said Matt Higgins, who has attended the last 27 Jazz Holidays. "We've taken all of our kids here from the very beginning. No way."

Fans like Higgins staked out their spots in line as early as noon Thursday — four hours before the gates opened on the first night of the 30th Clearwater Jazz Holiday.

"That's what you've got to do to get here first," Higgins said. "If I hadn't gotten here, Tim would've."

Tim is Tim Kelly.

Kelly is 42 and lives in St. Petersburg; Higgins is 53 and lives in Spring Hill. For years, the men have vied for the first spot in line.

"One day I get here," Higgins said. "Two days, he gets here. It's a back and forth."

Higgins called Kelly as he left his home at 11 a.m. Yes, they actually exchanged numbers one year.

"Where are you?" he asked.

"At Wal-Mart trying to get a straw hat," Kelly replied.

Every opening day, Kelly has bought a new straw hat.

"Well," Higgins said, "see if I can't beat you down there."

Higgins arrived at noon; Kelly a short time later. There was no jumping up and down. Theirs is a friendly competition, the men said.

"The travesty in this whole story should be that Wal-Marts in south St. Pete were out of straw hats," Kelly said. "That threw everything out of sync from there. The Earth was not the same."

They pitched their chairs and reminisced on years past until 5 minutes after 5 when the gates opened and an avalanche of jazz lovers scurried down the hill of Coachman Park for prime sitting and viewing spots.

Higgins and Kelly were at the head of the pack.

"The system is I take the lightest object to mark our land and they take all the heavy lumber," Kelly said.

"I can't run," Higgins said. "We all sit together anyway.

"Four days of friendship and jazz."

Rodney Thrash can be reached at or (727) 445-4167.

Clearwater Jazz Holiday

When: Today through Sunday

Where: Coachman Park, downtown Clearwater

Bring: Lawn chairs, blankets, sunscreen, still cameras

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


4 p.m.: Gates open

5-6 p.m.: The Organic Trio

6:30-7:30 p.m.: Joe Baione Quartet

8-9 p.m.: Nicole Henry

9:30-11 p.m.: Chris Botti


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


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 or call (727) 461-5200 for details.

Diehards are back for Clearwater Jazz Holiday's first day 10/15/09 [Last modified: Thursday, October 15, 2009 9:40pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. From the food editor: Almond-Crusted Chicken Tenders


    I decided my almond chicken obsession was becoming a bit much.

    Almond Crusted Chicken Tenders. Photo by Michelle Stark, Times food editor.
  2. Forecast: Soggy, yet hot, workweek ahead across Tampa Bay


    A soggy workweek is ahead across Tampa Bay as decent chances for scattered storms remain consistent over the next several days.

    Tampa Bay's 7 day forecast. [WTSP]
  3. Travel ban, Kennedy retirement speculation the focus as Supreme Court prepares for break


    WASHINGTON — Before taking their long summer break, the Supreme Court justices are poised to act on the Trump administration's travel ban and a separation of church and state dispute involving a Missouri church playground.

    Justice Anthony Kennedy, shown in 2007, has given no public sign that he would step down this year and give President Donald Trump his second high court pick in the first months of his administration. Kennedy's departure would allow conservatives to take firm control of the court. [Associated Press]
  4. Florida education news: Guns, charter schools, drug education and more


    HOSTILE WORK PLACE: A legal review determines that while a University of South Florida technology center former director might have been boorish and hostile, …

  5. Fire crews battle blaze at apartment complex near Seminole Heights


    Fire crews are battling a blaze that broke out early Monday morning at an apartment complex near Seminole Heights, according to Tampa Fire Rescue.