Hub City Jazz: world-class music on tap in Nanaimo

Legendary R&B sax man Ernie Watts, Juno winner Laila Biali headline Nanaimo Jazz Fest, Sept. 20-22

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.”

Learn more at nanaimojazzfest.ca and stay tuned to the latest festival news on Facebook.

 

turday, aJuno Award-winning pianist Laila Biali brings her music to the Nanaimo Jazz Festival for a Sept. 22 concert at the Port Theatre, with guest artist Phil Dwyer.

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