Monday, December 11, 2017
Events

Clearwater Jazz Holiday returns to roots with New Orleans vibe

CLEARWATER

The artwork for this weekend's 37th Clearwater Jazz Holiday features splatters of paint swirling around a stylized guitar.

Allison Hardin, a 32-year-old retail store manager who painted the winning piece, said the judges liked the colorful twizzles for their fireworks-like appearance, noting that pyrotechnics are traditionally a part of Clearwater's signature music festival.

Fireworks are slated for Saturday night at 10:45 p.m., but one thing that will be missing is Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Daryl Hall, who was to headline at 9:15 p.m.

"He has doctor's orders not to sing," said Gary Hallas, who handles the marketing of Clearwater's signature music festival. Apparently an issue with his tonsils forced Hall to withdraw late last week.

But officials scrambled to find a replacement and on Tuesday announced British reggae-pop act UB40, featuring original singer Ali Campbell along with Mickey Virtue and Astro, will headline Saturday night's festivities.

Festival CEO Steve Weinberger said that after a long weekend scrambling for a replacement, he's confident the group, whose hits include Red Red Wine and Can't Help Falling In Love, is a good fit.

Hall wasn't the only big name to drop out. In August, legendary blues rocker Gregg Allman announced he was bailing from his Sunday slot due to "serious health issues." He has since been replaced by Grace Potter, a blues and rock singer from Vermont.

"These are just things you can't control," Hallas said. "You have to keep moving forward."

And the jazz fest has, ever since the first aces of the basses began spreading the musical gospel from the back of flatbed trucks almost four decades ago. Last year's event drew some 35,000 disciples to Coachman Park.

This year's big-name acts include Kool and the Gang and the Commodores (both were slated to play Thursday), Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, and Potter.

General admission and lawn seating tickets are $25 the day of the show. Children 12 and under are free with paying adult. Bring blankets or lawn chairs. Daily and weekend packages are available for general, VIP and reserved seating.

Weinberger said this year was special, in part, because it is "a bit of a homecoming for certain artists that are near and dear to the Clearwater Jazz Holiday family."

Those homecoming kings include Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue performing a mix of hard-edged funk and traditional jazz Friday at 9:30; the Fred Johnson Quartet featuring Cliff Downs scheduled to play at 4 p.m. Saturday; and jazz bassist Brian Bromberg and his Full Circle Band taking the stage Saturday at 5:30 p.m.

Additionally, the worldwide-performing sax player, Bernard "BK" Jackson, will host the official after-party Friday at the Capitol Theatre following his performance with Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue on the Coachman Park stage.

"He (Jackson) grew up around the jazz festival and is one of the amazing young performers that the Clearwater Jazz Holiday Foundation has supported over the years," Weinberger said.

Jackson was part of the Ruth Eckerd Hall/Clearwater Jazz Holiday Youth Jazz Band that allows talented students to participate in a comprehensive jazz program. The jazz band will perform Sunday at 2 p.m. with Bromberg as a special guest.

In addition, four Pinellas County high schools — Palm Harbor University, Seminole, St. Petersburg and Boca Ciega — have been tapped to perform in the park during the festival.

Over time, the festival has evolved from one centered on jazz and blues sounds to include additional musical genres.

"The diversity has really broadened our audience appeal," said Weinberger. "There's really something for everybody."

Friday the festival returns to its roots in a big way.

"We love the music of New Orleans and are practically transplanting the city of New Orleans to Coachman Park," Weinberger said. Each act is from New Orleans or a tribute to the Louisiana city.

He said he was especially excited about the inaugural appearance by the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, a Big Easy band dedicated to carrying on New Orleans musical tradition.

"It will be a party, a beautiful celebration of music and culture," said Weinberger.

   
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