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Blues and Jazz Festival scheduled for May 16 at new spot

By Mark Wineka
mark.wineka@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — You can’t keep Eleanor Qadirah down.

She’s rebounding from some recent heart problems and a stay at Carolinas Medical Center-NorthEast to continue her efforts into bringing back the Rowan Blues and Jazz Festival.

This year’s 16th Blues and Jazz Festival will be held from 2-10:30 p.m. May 16 in the new parking lot at the corner of North Lee and East Kerr streets, in the center of the Railwalk Arts District.

After a run of 15 consecutive years, Qadirah did not put together the Blues and Jazz Festival in 2014, but it proved to be only temporary. She kept hearing from people about how much they missed it.

Until the end of March, Qadirah will be attached to a wearable defibrillator, but she’s not slowing down.  “The thing is uncomfortable — that’s all I have to say,” Qadirah said.

She has been attending several events and twisting arms, trying to line up sponsors so she can keep the festival a free event.

“We just want our sponsors to respond as usual — and the vendors,” she said.

According to Qadirah, three things need to be emphasized with this year’s Blues and Jazz Festival:

• The new time of year. The festival has always been held in the fall in years past.

• The new location. The most recent festivals had been held across from Rowan Public Library in the parking lot bounded by South Church and West Fisher streets. Qadirah is enthused about the new location.

• The multicultural lineup of musicians.

She’s hoping the new location’s proximity to the Salisbury Depot will entice people in outlying cities to take the train, attend the festival and make it part of an all-day visit to Salisbury.

As in years past, there also will be the Jackie Torrence Storytelling Festival from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. before the music starts. Storytellers from across the state will be located at 405 North Lee Street, a venue formerly known as the Black Box Theater.

Some of the acts already set for this year’s Blues and Jazz Festival include Australian-born Peter Hopper and the Midwest Kind, Beverly “Guitar” Watkins of Atlanta, West End Mambo of Winston-Salem, Joe Robinson of Clemmons and the Stanley Baird Jazz Band of Durham.

More will be scheduled, Qadirah said.

As always, spectators will bring their own lawn chairs or blankets and come and go through the day as they like. Tickets are also available for VIP seating. The day includes food vendors and arts and crafts.

For information on VIP tickets or the festival overall, visit rowanbluesandjazz.org.

Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263, or mark.wineka@salisburypost.com

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