Springfield Jazz and Blues Festival set for summer return

Credit: David A. Moodie

Credit: David A. Moodie

A first-time event that had a big impact on Springfield in 2022 will be back for the first of multiple anticipated encores each summer.

The initial Springfield Jazz and Blues Festival, presented by the Kiwanis Club of Springfield, brought in an estimated 6,000 to 8,000 people to see a variety of artists, admission-free. With that success, event organizers anticipate more than 10,000 people for the second event, Aug. 11-12 at Springfield Commons Park and Mother Stewart’s Brewing Company.

Rich Carey, one of the festival’s lead organizers who originally proposed the idea, said to expect more artists, 18, along with other innovations to enhance the experience. One of the first steps was moving the festival up a weekend earlier to avoid conflicts with other established events and activities such as the start of the high school sports fall season.

“We’re really excited to be doing this again,” Carey said. “Kiwanis went into unknown territory a year ago. People enjoyed it, and this promises to again be an eclectic atmosphere.”

Jazz has gained a following in the area in recent years with offerings such as the Springfield Symphony Jazz Orchestra, led by Todd Stoll, another festival organizer and performer. Carey said some attendees came in curious, not knowing much about jazz, and afterward went looking for more artists to listen to, and the shared live experience only added to it.

“One of the things I was most proud of was how diverse the audience was, and we hope it can be that way again this year,” he said.

This year’s festival will include a mix of local, regional and national artists, some returnees from a year ago and many award-winners. The Aug. 11 lineup on the Commons Stage will be Mother’s Jazz Collective; Todd Stoll Septet; Tammy McCann; and Aaron Diehl Trio. The Mother Stewart’s Stage roster will be The Champion City Trio; Liquid Crystal Project; Pharez Whitted; and Marquis Knox.

Aug. 12 Commons Stage performers are Such Sweet Thunder; Dayton Salsa Project; Theron Brown Trio and Alexa Tarantino; Bobby Floyd with Walter Blanding; and the Springfield Symphony Jazz Orchestra with Catherine Russell. The Mother Stewart performers will include Connor Smith Trio; Mike Wade and the Nasty Nati Brass Band; Joshua Strange Quartet; Joe Waters; and Brianna Thomas.

Organizers were thrilled to have Samara Joy as one of the headliners in 2022, who went on to win two Grammy Awards at the most recent Grammys in February. Carey said you never know who you may discover on their way up.

Attendees will also have the advantage of a 9x16-foot LED screen on the Commons to help with the atmosphere, along with more speakers. Local food trucks will also be available with a range of offerings.

Carey said sponsorships are ahead of last year, with prior sponsors returning and several new businesses joining in. Any proceeds raised will go to projects Kiwanis supports.

Another popular returning attraction was a kids’ zone sponsored by Richwood Bank with inflatables and other activities. Carey wants the festival to be a place entire families can enjoy time together.

Carey said the organizers fought the temptation to add a third stage, but he foresees a future when the festival is all over downtown Springfield. But he’s content how it’s going in these formative years.

“We’re adding the spokes. The goal is to continue growing the crowd, but we’re taking this in baby steps and growing a little at a time to keep people coming back for more every year,” said Carey.

For more information on the event, go to www.springfieldjazzbluesfest.com/.

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