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!

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