First Springfield Jazz and Blues Festival to debut in August

A local service club wants to jazz up the summer of 2022 in Springfield by introducing an event it hopes people from the community and beyond will flock to.

The Kiwanis Club of Springfield is the driving force behind the inaugural Springfield Jazz and Blues Festival that will feature national, regional and local performers at two locations in downtown Springfield, Aug. 19-20.

The admission-free festival will bring in 16-17 acts to perform on the outdoor stage at Mother Stewart’s Brewing Company and across the street at National Road Commons Park, where a portable stage will be set up with food trucks complementing the event.

With several businesses and individuals including John Legend helping sponsor to make it a free festival, Kiwanis member and event chair Richard Carey wants people to have a good time and discover a genre of music gaining popularity.

“We know there’s an interest to get out in our community after COVID and people are looking for the right reason to go out. The idea of a festival atmosphere will bring in an eclectic crowd and we’re excited for what it could be and how the community has jumped onboard with this,” he said. “Everything is falling into place.”

With more than 100 years working to improve the Springfield community, including adding a children’s garden in Snyder Park in 2019, Kiwanis Club members looked for an event to bring people together. Carey noticed how popular the live music scene was becoming here at the Summer Arts Festival, Mother Stewart’s, Station 1 and other spots.

They considered genres such as country or an Irish festival but it kept coming back to jazz and blues. Around the same time, Todd Stoll was forming the Springfield Symphony Jazz Orchestra, and attendance at the first show proved the interest, and the two got together a couple years ago, stalled by the pandemic, but allow the plan to form.

Given Stoll works for the Jazz at Lincoln Center education program in New York City, he has access to the range of jazz artists and became the festival artistic director. While even the top current jazz and blues performers aren’t as recognizable as Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift or the like, he’s aiming at a wide range of performers.

“We knew if we could create an audience, the energy would take care of everything. Jazz is very eclectic, a style of music under a larger umbrella – smooth jazz, modern jazz, New Orleans brass. It’s about creating a place where everyone is welcome,” Stoll said.

Finding the right venues came next. Carey and Stoll agreed Mother Stewart’s was one place they wanted. The venue opened an outdoor stage last year.

“We knew Mother’s was an anchor for what is happening downtown and that gave us a viable space, but we needed a second and we looked at a lot of options,” said Carey.

He met with Springfield City Manager Bryan Heck in National Road Commons Park for a different event and they realized the answer was literally before their eyes. A 32-by-24-foot portable stage will be placed there for the festival.

Carey was also pleased to find several sponsors eager to support a big community event and rounding up food trucks and vendors.

Another consideration was attracting audiences from out of town who will spend money here on lodging, food and other things.

“There are people who follow jazz and blues artists. We’ll have artists coming in from Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Columbus,” Carey said.

Stoll wanted to bring in a wide range of performers. One of the biggest names in jazz, the John Pizzarelli Trio, will headline the Aug. 19 show and up-and-coming star Samara Joy will headline Aug. 20. He also added regional piano and organ legend Bobby Floyd and Marquis Knox, one of the best up-and-coming blues vocalists and guitarists in the world in the spirit of B.B. King.

Attendees can also hear the Springfield Symphony Jazz Orchestra featuring Stoll, which will close the festival.

“People will get the opportunity to experience a lot of styles,” Stoll said. “Dismiss the notion you don’t know anything about jazz and you’ll find out jazz is a lot of fun.”

Both nights will also offer a ticketed post-festival jam concert inside Mother Stewart’s.

The goal is to draw a diverse crowd and not charging admission is part of the plan, which Carey credits the sponsors for helping make possible. Kiwanis continues seeking other interested sponsors with several sponsorship levels available.

Carey is hopeful if the festival gets an enthusiastic response, this could be a Springfield Kiwanis signature event for years to come and potentially a mecca of live jazz in the Miami Valley.

“We’d like to see it grow to include places like the State Theater and COhatch and take over Fountain Avenue. That’s the dream. We’ll see now if we can execute it,” he said.

For more information and updates on the festival or sponsorship opportunities, go to

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