Newmarket Jazz + Festival Rates A Big Plus!

KC Roberts closes out the show
Recently I attended The Newmarket Jazz + Festival, and, comparing it to the inaugural previous year, it was a much better experience, with the talent top notch! Where last year I was critical that I'd spent almost a full day attending without hearing any Jazz, this year I heard some and more, as well they were clear about it being JAZZ +, which, as a theme guy,  helped me absorb and accept other genres into a Jazz Festival.

The unique mix, from instrumentals only, to vocal bluesy acts, to experimental newish sounds was very cool to die-hard music fans like me, and judging by the crowd reaction, and that of one of the organizers, George St. Kitts, who certainly wasn't trying to hide his enthusiasm for the performers, I wasn't alone in my thinking. I had no choice but to notice St. K on occasion as he was on the 2nd stage semi-between myself and the main stage so I couldn't miss him. But that just tells me that he really enjoys the music too, and feels it, and you do indeed need that element to have a good festival - organizers looking to attain really good music - not just

"filler"  - and one that carries a vibe backed up by the hosts enthusiasm such as they showed.

George St Kitts got one too!
So great job George, himself an R&B Singer, whom I worked a gig with some years ago for Feds' United Way drive, my first gig as Elvis as I recall and I did poorly, stumbling on a lyric of a song I was using without karaoke also for the 1st time. Ha. The Elvis die-hards noticed, and I swear I heard a collective groan. I never made that mistake again. Ha. But George saved me that day as he was "spot on" and I recall him making the time to come over when we were all done and say it was pleasure working with us and enjoyed us (myself and Ayoub Beebejaun, now a Fireman in Newmarket, singing the song TPE had created and which we co-wrote, Light The Way), which I'm sure in my case, he was just being polite. Ha.

Jackie of Jackie and Kim Richardson
The Feds services raised a record $ amount that year for The United Way drive through sales of our C.D. and efforts from others like George. I would only imagine the Sheri (St Kitts) is an extension of that same character and kudos to them both for putting this together, along with their board, and  of course the grants people for making it possible. Indeed they have proven capable of putting together a credible showcase of talent. It is theirs now to shape, as they have certainly proven worthy with the opportunity given.

Picturesque Main St Newmarket
That being said, there were some minor glitches with the former Aurora Jazz Festival organizers' event which could be improved, including stage locations on Main St affecting a few businesses - mind you adjustments were made for Sunday - and some audio issues on occasion, with some delay between acts at times that could have been filled with recorded music meantime and piped out through the house system - especially through the rain delays. And it still feels a little confining at times at R.W.C., but , as I say, the music on this day was top notch, with a couple local performers even amongst the band members, and, by adding  visual artists, they created atmosphere in a positive way. And being Jazz + totally within theme still! The outdoor activity & kids areas for performers were nice.. until it a back up plan perhaps also be a future board consideration. Maybe lose the karaoke-like feature on Main too as it cheapens it a bit, and add a true
marquis, name performer.

Artist Quincy Morrison had some cool stuff
I checked in with some of the shops on nearby Main St and the ones I'd spoke with had busier days than most during the event - particularly hospitality establishments and retail outlets. Some were utilized in some form by the festival organizers which was good and I'd like to see more of that - using local wherever possible - so Newmarket businesses also profit. After all someone does make money here! And Businesses shouldn't be shy about wanting some nor organizers about assisting to that end..

Suspended Play on Main St
Artist Nikita Persa makes Wildflower Art
The year we held our Annual Youth Road Hockey Event on Main St, we had performers set up not only on the street, but stationed inside the hospitality houses, and maybe that is an area that can be worked on for next year as well which will help keep out-of-towners engaged. Cafe Hesed for example has a piano in it already, so it would be easy to set them up with a daily performance etc. All the bars, cafes, and restaurants should be involved where possible, and if it was me as an owner I'd be booking performers in anyway and opening my bar until 2 am! Don't wait for nearby events to include you - show an interest and willingness and I'm sure they will.

TPE as an entertainment and promo production specialist for film/ video / live production and online optimization and have organized shows for events as large as Canada's largest convention center in Toronto, originally would have loved the opportunity to put on a Jazz Festival, and had actually considered it years ago when after my first ever Yuk Yuks performance I'd met Pianist / Composer Ken Skinner of The Jazz Mongers (Marooned etc) - who happens to be the God Son of Oscar Peterson's brother Chuck, and studied under Daisy  Sweeney, Oscar's sister, who asked me to look into it. His father Kenny Sr. was also a pianist playing with Charlie Biddle, Dougie Richardson, Nelson Symonds  Ken kept repeating the terms new market as if it were an omen as I recall and he was truly exited - a man who'd also lead a hard life I think, and looking for a rainbow... maybe re-find a lost passion.

Don't shoot!
We became friends then and my kids came with me for dinner at he and his wife's place ( was single Dad ) and we discussed some ideas, but at the time we had not the Riverwalk Commons in Newmarket, theorizing perhaps Fairy Lake Park for host site and so the idea kind of died but I always thought it would work in New Market. Ken was right after all!

Now he'd be a good fit for Cafe Hesed - located on Main St and already equipped with a piano - so maybe I'll just inject myself next year by setting up performers in the local Main St. venues need be! Ha...

There are a few empty spaces on Main that'll likely fill up before next year, including a new fish house, and I'm sure the now empty bank will find a tenant by then, and, together with the already good mix of quirky businesses and delicious eatery's, with options to sit in or quick bite on site and mixed with visual beauty of main St., you have all the elements for an event such as this to grow!

Overall though, definitely a good job with perhaps some overkill on the advertising - reduce that and maybe turn some volunteers into paid labour instead - after all isn't there a non-profit / give back element cause for all this too?

Build it and they will come.

TP's rating an A minus!
Check out more pics from this event on the
TPE Production's FB Page.

TP out!
More Quincy Morrison Art

A Place to unwind on Main St!

Sultans of String
Good Vibes got good vibes from the Jazz+ Fest selling their T-shirts

 T-shirts sold on Main St during !
Joy Lapps