Westsylvania Jazz & Blues Fest ’16: hot weather, cool scene

Dancing in North Seventh Street. Photo by Ethan Brogan.

Dancing in North Seventh Street. Photo by Ethan Brogan.


By Ethan Brogan

INDIANA — Summer heat and bright sun drew crowds downtown to start the 2016 Memorial Day weekend at the Westsylvania Jazz & Blues Festival.

Festival organizers said Saturday’s weather cooperated and business support increased for the third annual music fair.

“This year we tried to up the game,” said Matthew R. Baumer, an Indiana University of Pennsylvania music professor and an event coordinator.

Organizers estimated daytime attendance at 1,200 as weather reports pegged temperatures in the low 90s.

Event organizer and Dad Band saxophonist Michael J. Powers said the event also aimed to educate young people about jazz and blues – “getting kids exposed to someone at the top of their game,” he said in a May 25 interview.

The show started at 10:30 a.m. with the Dad Band leading a musical procession on the two blocks down Philadelphia Street from the public library on Ninth Street to the main festival stage at IRMC Park on North Seventh Street.

The Indiana Area High School jazz ensemble took the stage until noon, followed by local bands Grist for the Mill and Jukehouse Bombers. Regional artists the Nevin Saylor Big Band followed, with trombonist Jeff Bush, a Duquesne University music professor.

At 4:15 p.m. Richie Cole, an alto saxophonist who has appeared on 50 albums, kicked off festival headliners. At 5:30 p.m., Jevon Rushton, a drummer from Pittsburgh, led a three-piece show.

The free open-air carnival encouraged audience members to pop in for performances.

IUP graduate accounting student Joshua D. Conrad came for Rushton’s band.

“He was crazy on the drums,” Conrad enthused.

Trudy Lynn, billed as Houston’s “first lady of the blues,” took the stage at 7:30 p.m. to cap the day. Lynn has recorded 11 studio albums and opened for artists such as Ike and Tina Turner.

At 9 p.m., after-hours sessions, facilitated by festival organizers, started at local live-performance venues — Ferguson and Friends at RBG Bar and Grill at Park Inn, The Jukehouse Bombers at The Brown Hotel, Jazz with Dr. Mike at The Coventry Inn, and Grist for the Mill at Josephine’s Pizzeria and Enoteca.

Primary sponsor Delaney Chevrolet has pledged support for the festival through 2019, organizers said. Other sponsors included Pittsburgh JazzLive International Festival, IUP Lively Arts, Indiana Arts Council, 90.5 WESA-FM Pittsburgh and 91.3 WYEP-FM Pittsburgh.

Ethan C. Brogan, a senior majoring in journalism at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, is from Pittsburgh.

 

The festival in photos by Ethan Brogan

Site of the event, North Seventh Street, Indiana, Pa., May 28, 2016.

Site of the event, North Seventh Street, Indiana, Pa., May 28, 2016.

Members of The Dad Band lead a two-block procession from North Ninth Street to the North Seventh Street festival site on Saturday morning.

Members of The Dad Band lead a two-block procession from North Ninth Street to the North Seventh Street festival site on Saturday morning.

Drummer Jevon Rushton leads his jazz headliner band.

Drummer Jevon Rushton leads his jazz headliner band.

Eric Bonazza, Indiana resident and Brown Hotel employee, juggles as jazz headliners Jevon Rushton and his band perform.

Eric Bonazza, Indiana resident and Brown Hotel employee, juggles as jazz headliners Jevon Rushton and his band perform.

Trombonist Jeff Bush performs with the Nevin Saylor Big Band.

Trombonist Jeff Bush performs with the Nevin Saylor Big Band.

Trudy Lynn, blues headliner from Houston, belts with her band.

Trudy Lynn, blues headliner from Houston, belts with her band.

Festival steering committee members take a bow: Michael Powers (gesturing on stage), Corbin Krug (front left), Matthew Baumer, Madison Sabo and Dave Ferguson.

Festival steering committee members take a bow: Michael Powers (gesturing on stage), Corbin Krug (front left), Matthew Baumer, Madison Sabo and Dave Ferguson.

Jimmy Roach blows a blues harp with the Jukehouse Bombers after hours at The Brown Hotel.

Jimmy Roach blows a blues harp with the Jukehouse Bombers after hours at The Brown Hotel.

Grist for the Mill performs late Saturday at Josephine's Pizzeria and Enoteca.

Grist for the Mill performs late Saturday at Josephine’s Pizzeria and Enoteca.

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Top Stories, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Westsylvania Jazz & Blues Fest ’16: hot weather, cool scene

  1. James says:

    That is a wonderful article by Ethan Brogan! He seems like he is extremely talented, and gets right to the point, also he mentions the names of the artists and local businesses. Please tell Ethan this is a WONDERFUL article.

  2. Support Indiana. Support local business. Support community events and live music.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s