Aug 1, 2012 06:06 AM WV Sound
Keeping a beat in the Mountain State
Celebrating Jazz in West Virginia
After three years of successful Winter Jazz Weekends, the WV Jazz Society is hosting its first Summer Jazz Weekend from August 23 to 25, 2012, in Lewis and Harrison counties.
Jazz Society President Eric Spelsberg was born and raised in West Virginia and has always thought jazz should be celebrated throughout the state. “A lot of people hear jazz all the time in movies and restaurants and don’t even realize it,” he says. After being encouraged by his wife, Eric decided to create a not-for-profit jazz society four years ago. “Our mission is to identify and develop a market for live jazz music right here in West Virginia,” he says. “Our state is not an urban center, but a crossroads.” He says West Virginia is positioned in the middle of major cities known for their jazz styles. “New Orleans has a Dixieland influence and Detroit has a Motown influence, but a lot of the major interstates cross into West Virginia,” he says.
Summer Jazz Weekend will kick off with the Weston Jazz Stroll in historic downtown Weston on Thursday, August 23, 2012. During the opening event, people are welcome to stroll up and down the streets, enjoying food and drinks and admiring the old brick buildings surrounded by West Virginia’s hillsides. At the same time, the WV Jazz Society and regional CVBs will introduce America’s Jazz Crossroads, showcasing West Virginia’s jazz talent.
Eric says the Weston Jazz Stroll is designed to create a “virtual town square.” With the stroll beginning at 5:30 p.m., Second Street between Center and Main streets will be closed. The square will come alive with three ensembles playing at three venues at 6, 7, and 8 p.m. In Thyme Bistro will be the Jenny Wilson Trio, a family trio based out of Morgantown. The Pink Moon on Main Avenue will present the Adam Loudin Quintet. Adam earned his master’s degree at Indiana University in Bloomington and has performed with legendary drummer Roger Humphries and The Artie Shaw Band. Performing at the Second and Center Café will be Elkins guitarist Seth Maynard.
The festivities will pick up again Friday morning with community education and a free performance. A brown bag lunch and concert in two locations will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Seth Maynard and Adam Loudin will be guest lecturers at the Lewis County Senior Center on Second Street in Weston, while Chuck Redd and the Jenny Wilson trio will move to entertain a crowd on Main Street in Clarksburg.
The day will end at Stonewall Resort State Park with a performance of “Soulful Jazz and Summertime Blues” at 5 p.m., featuring singer Rachel Franks with Osmosis on the Adler Patio. The famous C.C. Booker III featuring Will Scruggs will take the stage in the Stonewall Ballroom at 8 p.m. “At last year’s Winter Jazz Weekend, C.C. Booker sold out two back-to-back shows at the Bridgeport Conference Center,” says Eric. For $55, guests enjoy reserved nightclub-style seating and a gourmet BBQ buffet.
On the morning of August 25, the jazz academy will host public seminars and workshops, including question and answer sessions. “It’s a tremendous opportunity for people around here,” Eric says. “It’s very important to note that The National Endowment of the Arts recognized the academy as jazz educators.” Dr. Chris Wilkinson, a jazz history professor at WVU, will also lecture. Faculty and students will come together at the end of the day for a performance that will be free to the public.
Later that evening, Jazz at Charles Pointe will conclude the activities, featuring and event called Tribute to Great Ladies of Jazz in the Bridgeport Conference Center. The performance will include Chuck Redd, Nicki Parrott, Sha’ron Clark, Sharel Cassity, and Robert Redd.