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. Nearly 1 in 4 Tampa Bay homeowners considered equity rich

    Real Estate

    If your home is worth at least 50 percent more than you owe, you're rich — equity rich that is.

    About one in four Tampa Bay homeowners are considered "equity rich." [Associated Press file photo]
  2. Trump strategist Steve Bannon: No military solution in North Korea


    BRIDGEWATER, N.J. — President Donald Trump's chief strategist Steve Bannon says there's no military solution to the threat posed by North Korea and its nuclear ambitions, despite the president's recent pledge to answer further aggression with "fire and fury."

    Steve Bannon, chief White House strategist to President Donald Trump, has drawn fire from some of Trump's closest advisers. [Associated Press]
  3. Rays have their chances, but end up with another loss (w/video)

    The Heater

    TORONTO — The litany of games the Rays have given away this season is long enough, arguably too lengthy. So the only way to get to the postseason is make up for some of those losses by grabbing some wins when the opportunity is presented, especially at this time of year when the margin is diminished and the stakes …

    Associated Press
  4. Dunedin man accused of possessing child pornography


    DUNEDIN — A 57-year-old man was arrested Wednesday, accused of intentionally downloading child pornography, the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office said.

    Richard Beal Anger, 57, of Dunedin faces 11 counts of possession of child pornography. [Courtesy of the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office]
  5. Pence cuts short Latin America trip and pressures Chile to sever all ties to North Korea


    SANTIAGO, Chile — Vice President Mike Pence is cutting short his Latin America trip by one day to return to Washington for a strategy meeting Friday at Camp David with President Donald Trump and the national security team.

    Vice President Mike Pence urged Chilean President Michelle Bachelet to take a tougher stand against North Korea on Wednesday in Santiago, Chile.