SPRINGFIELD JAZZ & ROOTS FESTIVAL On August 6th, 2016, Springfield became the place to be for world-class jazz and roots music and culture. The third annual Springfield Jazz & Roots Festival drew an audience of 8,000-10,000 people from western MA and the New England region. The legendary musician and proud Springfield native Taj Mahal, who almost single-handedly redefined the blues sound, headlined our free, unticketed event. The Main Stage opened with high school musicians from the Charles M. Greenlee Ensemble of the Community Music School of Springfield, followed by an illustrious lineup including Jose Gonzalez and Banda Criolla, Samirah Evans and Her Handsome Devils, Heshima Moja and Ofrecimiento with American Idol finalist Rayvon Owen, Terri Lyne Carrington, and Joey DeFrancesco. The Community Stage in the church just off Court Square boasted incredible local jazz and spoken word talent. Music ranged from Latin jazz that had us all dancing, to soulful R&B vocals backed by fiery guitar, to swampy and sultry jazz that took us straight to New Orleans. New this year, we added a third venue; the MassLive lobby offered: a photo exhibit celebrating local music and arts, original performances about social issues by Springfield’s First Generation youth theater group, and an interview and performance featuring Springfield’s musical roots. Just outside, two Springfield artists gave attendees the exhilarating opportunity to help create a mural to be displayed in a Court Square storefront.
Festivalgoers feasted on wide ranging cuisine from local food and drink vendors, shopped at local artisans’ and area businesses’ booths, and learned about nonprofits serving the city. Festivalgoers also enjoyed Springfield youth dance performances between the Main Stage acts, listened to jazz poetry and jazz children’s book readings by Springfield’s Poet Laureate, improvised with unusual electronic instruments and listened to recordings of their music, and participated in various creative activities. Plus, many attended workshops by music aficionados at the Community Music School of Springfield in the days before the festival and on event day; featuring Billy Arnold on the essence of the drums, Javon Jackson on jazz improvisation, Samirah Evans on singing, and Terri Lynne Carrington on building a musical career.
Our goal is to continue to grow the reach and impact of the Springfield Jazz & Roots Festival, presenting world-class music, highlighting the cultural richness and diversity of this urban center of Western MA, giving a boost to the local economy, and engaging artists and a diverse community in fueling Springfield’s revitalization.
Visit here www.springfieldjazzfest.com