The second annual Youngstown Jazz Fest gets underway 5 p.m., Saturday, July 7 at Harrison Common on Youngstown State University’s campus, across from the MVR restaurant in Smoky Hollow.
The free, family-friendly event, held in conjunction with the YSU Summer Festival of the Arts, features veteran international recording artists Pieces Of A Dream. The band has 15 major label albums to its credit. The group’s leader and keyboardist, James Lloyd, has lived in the Youngstown area for 12 years.
“We thought it was important to showcase a major source of contemporary jazz music that resides right in our own backyard,” said musician Jere B, producer of Jazz Fest. “The late jazz legend, Grover Washington Jr. not only discovered these guys, but toured with them internationally. James continues to write for and produce storied artists who top the jazz charts today.”
Youngstown Jazz Fest is a collaboration of the Mahoning County Convention & Visitors Bureau, the YSU Summer Festival of the Arts and the city of Youngstown.
Other acts include jazz trombonist John Reese; YSU Dana School of Music graduate Alton Merrell, who recently earned a Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh where he presently teaches; Cleveland songstress Laura Varcho, whose debut CD “Desire” is making waves on the jazz charts; and a cameo appearance by 2011 headliners, SounDoctrine.
Jere B continues, “The primary goal for this event has always been for our community to come together for a free evening of fun and celebration and have the opportunity to witness the many genres jazz has to offer. We are excited to also showcase many independent artists who are just as exciting and engaging as the nationally known acts.”
This year’s Jazz Fest honors the memory of sound engineer and musician Kim N. Hines. Hines was the chief engineer for last year’s event and was scheduled to continue for this year. “He was a friend to all who are performing this year and had toured with many major artists,” Jere B said. “He will be sorely missed. We’ll be jamming in his honor!”
The event is free. Due to construction along Walnut Street, patrons are advised to park in the Wick Avenue parking deck for a nominal fee by entering at Wick Avenue and walking behind Bliss Hall to Harrison Common. Patrons are welcome to bring a picnic basket and lawn chairs or blankets.
For more information visit the Youngstown Jazz Fest website, or call 330-718-5373.