Erie Art Museum Blues & Jazz Festival Reveals Line-Up

The 16th annual Erie Art Museum Blues & Jazz Festival returns to Frontier Park on Saturday, Aug. 2 & Sunday, Aug. 3, 2008. For two days and two nights, Frontier Park comes alive with what has proven itself to be the region's most dynamic musical events; this free community event is held rain or shine.

The Erie Art Museum Blues & Jazz Festival, attracting more than 15, 000 visitors, features musicians that range from regional favorites to international super-stars.

"Once again this year we will present a variety of great artists exemplifying the blues and jazz traditions, along with the other amenities that make this festival special, " said John Vanco, director of the Erie Art Museum and Festival artistic director. "We are particularly excited about the family performance on Saturday, which will feature Minneapolis based musical duo Beatrix JAR. They'll be in residence and perform using a technique called circuit-bending, a do-it-yourself sound art which allows anyone to discover new hidden organic sounds in battery-powered electronic toys recycled from homes, thrift stores, second hand shops and garage sales."

According to Vanco, the jazz lineup includes the exciting Winard Harper Sextet, featuring one of the truly great young bandleaders today, whose ensemble explores international sounds ranging from African to Caribbean, wrapped around a core of hard bop jazz. Harper has been leading ensembles since the '80s, as well as holding down the beat for jazz greats Dexter Gordon, David "Fathead" Newman, and—the association for which he is probably best known—the late, great, jazz diva Betty Carter.

Also headlining are Bobby Zankel & the Warriors of the Wonderful Sound, who are riding a wave of critical acclaim for their fresh and exciting approach to big band jazz.

Blues fans can look forward to a performance by one of the brightest stars in the blues firmament: Mem Shannon and his band, The Membership. Described as "the first major new talent to come out of New Orleans in years", Mem Shannon first achieved notice as the cab-driving bluesman, a vocation he left behind in 1996 to pursue the blues full time.

Also on the lineup is blues harp master Wallace Coleman, who played for ten years with the great Delta bluesman Robert Junior Lockwood before taking to the road with his own band. Lockwood said he would never hire a harp player, until he heard Coleman play.

Hands-on art activities and instrument making are offered from 1-5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday at the WQLN Kids art-making tent.

The Festival has partnered with the Lake Erie Arboretum at Frontier Park and WJET-TV, Fox 66, and Erie Green to green-up the Festival.

The public can support the Festival's efforts in the following ways:
1. Only bring recyclable materials to the Festival. Recycling cans are located throughout the Festival.
2. Walk or ride a bike to the Festival. A secure, complimentary Bike Corral is offered for those riding their bikes.
3. For those that drive, consider donating an optional $2 to the Lake Erie Arboretum at Frontier Park to offset the emissions from the vehicle. Donations can be made at the free festival parking location behind Green Garden Tavern. Donations supporting planting trees in our community.

"We have partnered with our vendors this year to green-up their operations – prohibiting the use of Styrofoam, selecting menu items that do not require plastic utensils, proper disposal of trash and waste water and the limitation of condiments in plastic packs, but offering them 'pump style', " said Vanco.

One of the most notable elements of the Festival is its unique green community park setting.

"It's our own Woodstock, " said Tammy Roche, Festival producer. "It's the only Festival in town that becomes an all-day outing for folks. We look around and see dozens and dozens of canopy tents, picnic-style set-ups, and a camaraderie with those nearby. With each year, the Festival grows in popularity."

And, according to Roche, it's because of that increasing attendance that Festival organizers are instituting a strict tent policy. "We clearly mark a designated area at the Festival grounds for tents. In addition to regulating tent placement, the Erie Art Museum will not permit any tents to be set-up prior to 9 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 2. Tents set-up prior to this time will be taken down and can be redeemed at the Festival's Information Tent."

Also enforced this year, are the prohibition of overnight camping and open-flame cooking. "Overnight camping at Frontier Park is against City of Erie ordinance, as is open-flame cooking (e.g. charcoal grills and turkey fryers). City of Erie police will be strictly enforcing this rule. Propane grills are permitted, " said Roche.

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