Thursday, September 26, 2013

Rehoboth Beach hosts a jazzy good time!

April 2013

So I am googling around on the Internet for jazz fest information and stumbled onto news of a CD Release Party in Rehoboth Beach Delaware for jazz musician #Brian Simpson, also featuring musician Art Sherrod Jr.  I also read that if we attended this party we would be able to purchase advance tickets for the October Rehoboth Beach Jazz Festival! That was music to my ears, so I told the hubby and much to my surprise he said "buy the tickets for the party and book a hotel"!  I was elated and that is exactly what I did.  I was also surprised that the CD release party was only $10.00 which was easy on the wallet considering we had to book and pay for our overnight hotel stay and budget for spending money, so this was a nice treat as well.

Brian Simpson
Neither one of us knew much about Brian Simpson, and we had never heard of Art Sherrod Jr.  Brian is keyboard and sax, and Art Sherrod is also a sax player.  The venue where this event was held was at Old Bay Restaurant (now called Delaware Distilling Company), and when we first entered, I never would have guessed that this was a place for jazz. I say that because most venues such as restaurants or clubs, we have been to for jazz events were more neutral in color, and the decor fit the style of music.  This place had more of country/western ambiance but surprisingly it all fit together.  What we liked most about it was the size. Not compact but the right size where you really felt like you were at a private event.

What we liked least about this venue (and now that we know what the seating looks like, we will choose a different table when we return), if you pick the booth seats for a show, you are kind of forced to sit with strangers, not that its terribly wrong because meeting new people can make for some of the best times when traveling, however, it's not the best arrangement at a restaurant and you are planning to have dinner during the show; with that being said, it worked out in the end, and for our next visit in October for the annual jazz fest, we choose better seats for the after party shows.

The show was awesome.  Both musicians were amazing, and the up close and personal experience made it even more enjoyable. Brian Simpson literally walked out into the crowds playing his keyboard and this little girl about 10 years old, was really enjoying herself..(great to see someone so young so into his music).

That is what I like most about the smaller venues such as this, the up close and personal experience you get with the musicians and better your chances are (depending on the venue I suppose) to meet and chat with the artists.

Brian Simpson has been around  for many many years. He has toured with well known vocal artists such as Janet Jackson and Sheena Easton, and Jazz artists such as the late great George Duke and Jonathan Butler.

Brian's music is versatile, smooth and often romantic.  He plays the hell out of a keyboard! He goes from a very calm and mellow sound to eccentric and funky without breaking a sweat.

Art Sherrod Jr is also versatile, energetic and fun to watch as he pulls in the crowd.  Although this event was to promote Brian Simpson's CD, Art Sherrod Jr entertained the audience quite well and we look forward to seeing him again at Rehoboth Beach Jazz Fest in October.

Art Sherrod Jr

Brian and Art put on a fantastic show and when it all ended, they both hung around to chat & mingle with guests!  Your thoughts and comments are welcome...and thanks for reading my blog!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Jazzy summer nights on the waterfront in Philly

Every Summer in Philly hundreds of people come out and emerge on the grounds of Penn's landing with chairs in tow to check out smooth jazz that emerges by the waterfront.  It is a free concert full of energy and good music.  This year some of smooth jazz top artists and musicians graced the stage such as Alex Bugnon, Peter White, Najee, and singer/guitarist Jonathan Butler. We had the pleasure of seeing Najee, Jonathan Butler and Alex Bugnon and unfortunately we had to miss Peter White due to another committment.

Penn's Landing

The electricity and energy in the air at these concerts are fantastic. My husband and I are usually not big on doing outdoor free events anywhere, but we will make an exception for smooth jazz, and old school music events. To save money we will bring our own snacks, but there are always vendors around selling your typical American fare as well as beverages.  Security is present but not overbearing, which on one hand I wish they had more of it, but too much of it would certainly spoil the ambiance.  The crowds are huge, you sit where you can; because it is free, you may or may not get to see the stage, but best way to enjoy it is to go with the flow, bring your chairs, find a good spot, sit back and listen!

Jonathan Butler
The crowd at these events are pretty laid back and surprisingly with a wide age range. Many people have been coming for years; a friend that I sometimes see when commuting home from work, it is a annual outing for her and her friends.

All of the musicians we had the pleasure of seeing were outstanding. Alex Bugnon is so very talented and he brings such energy to the stage. I will also be seeing him again in the Fall at the Rehoboth Beach Jazz Fest with Najee, who was also at Penn's Landing but on a different day from Alex.  I describe Najee as "smooth", very cool and laid back with his Sax but can also electrify an audience until they are on their feet. 

The last artist we saw was Jonathan Butler.  Jonathan has been around for many many years. I remember hearing his music in the 90's and the one song that always stuck in my head when I hear his name is "Sarah Sarah"!  The crowd really adored him, and you could feel the love in the air, it was contagious!

What better way to end a long hot summer and the best part about the concert series at Penn's Landing is every show ends with fireworks. We are looking forward to summer 2014!

Thank you for reading my blog...your comments and feedback are greatly apprecitated!  

Friday, September 6, 2013

Fun, Food And All That Jazz in Reading, PA

Berks Jazz Fest - April 2013

My husband and I have been music lovers for many many years.  He is more old-school (James Brown, Temptations, Otis Redding), and although I love old school, I am also a fan of smooth jazz, as well as new and old school R&B. We have been reading and hearing about the berks jazz fest for years and always wanted to go but never got around to doing it. This was our year, we had an amazing time, and now we are sharing our experiences with you!

Boscov's Berks Jazz Fest
Crowne Plaza Hotel

Everyone has his or her own idea of what makes for great music, and my husband and I both agree after attending our first ever major jazz event, there is no better experience than attending a live jazz festival or event!

About three months prior to the Boscov's Berks Jazz Fest in Reading, PA, we decided after reviewing the brochure we received in the mail and seeing the awesome lineup, this was a must do event. We wanted to experience first hand what the fuss was all about at jazz festivals. 
After finding available accommodations at the #Crowne Plaza Hotel (THE place to stay during this event), we purchased our tickets.  Not an easy task considering how great the lineup was, but we narrowed it down to three shows in 2 days.(next time we are adding an extra day, 2 days was not enough)!

Our only regret (and this a mistake we will not repeat again), we did not purchase Jam Session tickets prior to arriving in Reading.  We had no idea how popular these jam sessions were until we were at the hotel, and each night during that weekend, there was a session and it was completely sold out. Now keep in mind the venue which it was held was quite small and intimate, so there were not hundreds of seats to be sold, so that definitely played a major part in it selling out, however, based on people we chatted with during our weekend stay, the Jam Sessions to many guests are the highlight of the entire week, and now we know why.

 Day 1 our 2 night stay we had the pleasure of seeing Keiko Matsui! 
Keiko Matsui, what an awesome musician!
Miller Center

All I can say about her is AMAZING! Believe it or not, I had never heard of her, and if I did, I could not remember ever hearing any of her music, and then when she performed a song during the end of the show, I  immediately recognized it and turned to my husband and said "all of this time, and I had no idea it was her".  He on the other hand was very familiar with Keiko Matsui and her music.  She gave an awesome performance,  and she is so versatile with her music. She also plays the piano beautifully.  I am looking forward to seeing her again at the Rehoboth Beach Jazz Fest in October.

Our next show was at the Crowne Plaza Hotel,  Gerald Veasleys Sound of Philly, featuring Phil Perry, Nick Colionne, Carol Riddick, Kindred the Family Soul and many others.  Another awesome show and performance by all the artists. 
Carol Riddick has performed many times at Warmdaddys Restaurant in Philadelphia, but we never had the chance to see her.  I describe her voice as very soft and mellow but yet can be very powerful depending on the song she is singing.  Phil Perry is another artist who I have heard many times on the radio and have seen his name in Jazz festival lineups, but again never had the chance to see live.  His style is very old school, which we like, and even after all of these years of performing, he still has it going on.  It also showed in the audience how well liked he and Carol Riddick are.

James and Gerald Veasley
Meeting the artist_Nick Colionne & Phil Perry

 Both Carol and Phil received standing ovations after singing an unrehearsed song that just blew me away. Nick Colionne, another jazz musician whose name I have also seen in many festival lineups, and I describe his performance as being a "beast" on the guitar.  He is by far one of the coolest jazz musicians I've ever seen live. My husband James got a chance to personally meet him and told him how fantastic a performance he gave. The audience received him very well also. Kindred the Family Soul - this married duo is one of the main reasons we chose this particular show to attend.  I have been following their music for years, and I always wanted to see them live and they were just as we expected, fantastic!! 

Mardi Grai Theme at Crowne Plaza Hotel

They have such chemistry on stage that it is quite contagious.  They certainly made my husbands night when they sang "Far away". Great couple and we also had the pleasure of meeting them as well. (More on this later).

Next show - Incognito featuring Maysa! Another highlight for us.  Maysa is one of few smooth jazz vocal artists that I truly admire for her singing style.  She is also very versatile and has a unique range and style to her voice. We have never seen Incognito live, so that was a treat to see Maysa collaborate with them and give the audience an outstanding performance!

Incognito is an awesome band that have been around for many many years.  Band members have changed, but their performance exceeded our expectations. One of the Sax players (I can't remember his name) exploded on the stage when the spotlight was turned on him for a few minutes as he gave a mini solo performance that was just amazing.  This show rocked, and many people were out of their seats dancing.  

Singer Carol Riddick(l) and my new friend Desiree(r)

Back at the hotel, after a busy fest weekend, we were delighted to meet and mingle with many of the Jazz artists who performed that weekend.  This was probably the biggest highlight of attending this fest.

We had no idea meeting them all would be that laid back and sociable with everyone, but they were.  Meeting Gerald Veasley, #Nick Colionne, Kindred the Family Soul, Phil Perry, Kim Waters, Najee, Carol Riddick was equally as nice as seeing them perform.
Mardi Grai Theme @ Crowne Plaza - Chicken Gumbo was delicious!

If you have never attended a Jazz Festival, you have no idea what you are missing!, but to truly experience the excitement of it all, book a full weekend, there is nothing like it - music, food and fun for the mature jazz lovers... indeed! We are looking forward to BBJF 2014! 

Thank you for reading my blog....Your comments, questions, feedback are greatly appreciated!