10th annual Blues and Jazz Festival comes to Salisbury this weekend
The Rowan Blues and Jazz Festival is celebrating its tenth anniversary this Saturday, but the gift goes to the listeners, as attendees are presented with a festival bigger and better than ever.
What began 10 years ago as a small gathering of musicians, storytellers and an appreciative audience in the parking lot behind Rowan Health and Fitness Center has grown into one of North Carolina’s premier music events. In fact, this year close to 200 musicians inquired about performing opportunities with the festival.
Ask anybody involved in the event how it grew so big, and you’ll probably get the same answer: Eleanor Qadirah, director of the Rowan Blues and Jazz Society. While many people volunteer time and resources to the festival, few are as driven toward success as Qadirah has been. Beverly Fields Barnette of the Association of Black Storytellers puts it best when she says Qadirah “eats, sleeps and breathes the festival each year.”
RBJS does more than present the yearly festival. Its education programs take place year round, providing instruction and performing opportunities for young people, helping to keep the blues and jazz tradition alive.
Young musicians will have one of these educational opportunities this Saturday before the big event when headlining act The Homemade Jamz Blues Band presents a youth music workshop 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at Rowan Public Library Headquarters, 201 W. Fisher St.
This Tupelo, Miss. family band, called “the youngest blues band in America,” consists of the three Perry family siblings, Ryan, 16 years old, guitar and vocals, Kyle, bass player, turning 14 this month, and drumming sister Taya, who is the same age as the festival-10.
Middle and high school music students are invited to bring their instruments and get playing tips from these young professionals. Workshop participants also get special seating during the Homemade Jamz performance later that day.
The workshop is free, thanks to funding from the Southern Arts Federation in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the North Carolina Arts Council.
For information about the workshop, or to register, call 704-636-2811.
Also in conjunction with Saturday’s events is the Jackie Torrence Storytelling Festival, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at Granite Lake Park in Granite Quarry. This children’s event is free, and is a memorial to Torrence, the beloved storyteller who was a part of the very first Blues and Jazz Festival, reading excerpts from her play “Blues Story,” accompanied by guitarist Bob Paolino.
Paolino is among the performers this year as well. Other acts returning: The Ladies Auxiliary Blues Band from Greensboro, which was the Society’s first headline band, in 1999; trumpet player Joe Robinson, who has played eight of 10 festivals; and Big Bill Morganfield, son of the legendary Muddy Waters, who returns to share some of his own tunes as well as some of his father’s most popular songs.
Also on hand will be jazz guitarist Larry Davis and saxophonist Mike Wallace.
The festival performances take place in the parking lot at the corner of South Church and West Fisher Streets. Those coming are asked to bring a chair or a blanket.
In addition to great music, a variety of food and craft vendors will be on hand.
2:15 p.m.ó Larry Davis and Friends
3 p.m. ó The Ladies Auxiliary
4 p.m. ó Bob Paolino
5:30 p.m. ó Joe Robinson
7 p.m ó Homemade Jamz Blues Band
8:30 p.m. ó Big Bill Morganfield
After the festival
The music continues as the party moves to the new Brick Street Tavern, 122 E. Fisher St., for a performance by The Salisbury Swing Band.
This 16-piece group is led by Steve Etters, associate professor of music at Catawba College, and is made up of local businessmen and professionals who gather weekly to play the music of the big band era and polish their skills.
The band’s repertoire includes hits from Glenn Miller, Count Basie, George and Ira Gershwin, Dave Brubeck, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Harry James and Woody Herman.
This blast from the past promises to be a great way to cap off a day of music.
Then Eleanor Qadirah can go home and start planning next year’s festival.
nnnFor more information about the Rowan Blues and Jazz Festival, call 704-636-3277 or visit www.rowanbluesandjazz.com.