From talented up-and-coming high school bands to numerous professional musicians sharing local stages, there’s no question Nanaimo is a jazz city, says Andrew Homzy.
As the Nanaimo International Jazz Festival Association president and his team prepare to host the city’s third annual musical celebration Sept. 20-22, he reflects on the genre’s popularity across Vancouver Island: “Jazz is both artistic and fun. It really has a foot in both worlds of art and entertainment,” he says.
With a mission to “raise the cultural profile of downtown Nanaimo and the Old City Quarter,” many of the festival’s “family-friendly” events will be held near the Diana Krall Plaza, the only public space in the country named for a Canadian jazz musician.
Here some great reasons to check out the Nanaimo Jazz Festival:
- Sensational September jazz If you’re looking for a great musical destination on this first weekend of fall, the festival is packed with 14 events – 10 of which are free – ranging from outdoor and indoor concerts, student workshops and the ever-popular New Orleans second-line parade, starting at noon on the Saturday from the corner of Fitzwilliam and Selby streets!
- Acclaimed artists on stage Headliners include Grammy-winning jazz and rhythm & blues saxophonist Ernie Watts, who joins his bandmates in concert at the Port Theatre on Saturday, Sept. 21. A featured soloist on many Marvin Gaye albums in the 1970s, he played for 20 years with The Tonight Show Band. Watts opens the festival with a workshop at VIU from 11 am. to 2 p.m. And on Sept. 22, Juno Award-winning Canadian pianist Laila Biali hits the Port Theatre stage. One of jazz’s brightest young stars and now almost two decades into a successful career, she’ll perform with fellow Juno winner, veteran Canadian jazz saxophonist Phil Dwyer.
- Festival passes offer great value You can find tickets online or call the box office at 250-754-8550, with a four-event package costing $115, saving you $25 over individual event tickets. Become a Society member and receive a discount ticket code, giving you all four events for $90 – that’s a $50 savings over general admission!
Find out why there’s a buzz around Nanaimo and the mid-Island about this fun and fabulous musical event.
“The festival really is a gift to the city,” Homzy says, crediting the foresight of festival sponsors and supporters for allowing the festival to grow and thrive. “There’s just so much energy in the air.”