In Riverside Park, located in West Bend, Wisconsin, thousands gathered to listen to great Jazz. A huge tent covers the stage and main seating area, capable of seating 2000. Around the main covered sections are grassy seating locations for lawn chairs, blankets and picnic tables. Surrounding the entire area, artists and restaurants setup shop to keep everyone happy from the moment they arrive until the moment they leave. The music is certainly the main draw, but having the other features just adds great enjoyment to the overall event especially when blessed with great weather like this year.
World-class talent in this form of music, smooth jazz, performed Friday and Saturday during the day and night. The crowd fully enjoyed artists at this year’s event. Those performing were:
On Friday evening 4:30 PM 11:30 PM:
- Bona Fide featuring Slim Man
- Joyce Cooling
- Richard Elliot
On Saturday 11:30 AM to 11:30 PM
- Pam & The Players
- Marc Antoine
- The Gary Davis Band
- Jesse Cook
- Acoustic Alchemy
Bona Fide, very funky as usual played some great stuff behind the voice of Slim Man. His smooth voice in "Secret Rendezvous" a number of years back paved the way for him. They played lots of good music including songs from the release, "The Poe House". From New Jersey, they’re fun to listen to. You can check out the Slim Man CD’s at slimman.com.
The crowd has enjoyed the live music of Joyce Cooling here for the second time. She was named "Best Female Jazz Guitarist of the Year" in 2000, and she continues to grow in popularity. The audience really loves the voice harmonizing by Joyce and her guitar. Her partner, Jay Wagner, has been with her for a long time, helping to write and produce her music. Her latest CD is "Keeping Cool" and is very pleasing to the ear. You can see and hear Joyce at joycecooling.com.
Friday had an energetic end to the first day, brought on by saxman Richard Elliott. His vibrant sax has thrilled audiences for a years. He was awesome. I assume most of you have heard Richard live before now, but if not, you must. He has a lot of good stuff to see and hear at richardelliot.com. I have probably seen Richard more than any other artist live in concert and this performance was certainly one of the best. It is tough to beat the time he played his sax while para-sailing in Catalina though.
Pam and the Players and The Gary Davis Band are both first class local groups. Pam’s band, consisted of other favorites from the area featuring Warren Wiegratz on sax, backing up her jazzy blues and Latin music very nicely. They played a nice selection of covers and original music. Gary’s group was also very easy to listen to as they performed lots of cool adult jazz grooves. They also had good music of their own, mostly written by Gary, and mixed in some great standards. His group was also quite familiar to local jazz aficionados. To find out more information on Gary's band, check out garydavisband.com.
Marc Antoine returned to the festival with his wonderful flair for guitar. His latest release is "Cruisin". I have enjoyed Marc immensely since his earlier music and have been fortunate to seem him live several times. His website also tells a great story, better than I at marcantoine.com.
Have you heard Jesse Cook live? This Narada artist plays a great form of Hot Rhumba Jazz Flamenco with his band complementing him perfectly. Learning his music as a youngster in France and Spain, he now resides in Canada. The first time I heard Jesse was at a Narada sponsored concert in Milwaukee, everyone loved his energy and musical coolness. He has performed in Catalina Island’s casino ballroom several times amongst many other international venues. Attending his concerts and listening to his CD’s is a pleasure. His last CD was Free Fall. Jesse is working to release a new recording in 2003. Learn more at jessecook.com.
Acoustic Alchemy came alive in concert as they began their US tour and completed a fantastic two days of music at Kettle Moraine. The group has constructed a very cool level of jazz energy which builds at each concert. Since the passing of one of the founding artists, Nick Webb, the group has continued on a path of discovery with GRP. "Mourn not too long that he is gone, but rather, rejoice forever that he was." is their motto Check them out live if you can, on CD for sure and look at acoustic-alchemy.net and verve.com. The close of their US tour in Catalina the first weekend in October will be awesome.
The community, the art, the food and certainly the most important, the music, created a great time for the sellout crowd. This event started out as and continues to be a concert to raise funds for the West Bend Sunrise Rotary Foundation. What a wonderful success.