Jazz festival signals the end of summer series and represents bringing people together
by Valerie Emerick
Garden City Jazz will once again present the annual Labor Day weekend jazz festival this Sunday, September 2, but this year they’ve made some enhancements to the event. Formerly known as the Uncommon Jazz Festival, this year’s event has taken on a new name: The Commons Jazz Festival.
“While planning for the inaugural event, we always referred to it as the Labor Day Jazz Festival. Pretty simple, right? You’ll always know when it takes place,” explains Karen Gordon, founder and event organizer for Garden City Jazz. “[Then] we called it Uncommon Jazz because we felt it represented the music we were presenting — classic jazz. Many jazz festivals these days are loaded with pop artists, whose music bears no resemblance to jazz, not even contemporary jazz. We were very deliberate in avoiding pop music, and this is what made the festival different from most.”
The festival may be different, but Gordon says the name change signifies a focus on commonality rather than differences.
“The new name, The Commons Jazz Festival, came about as we began to think about our audience, our community at large, and further refine and define our goals. The music is important, but the people who make up this community are most important — young, young at heart, military, locals, transplants, musicians, students, teachers, rich, poor, etc. The music is what brings people together, forging connections between regular, everyday folks. And we’re celebrating all that we have in common. In our city’s center, downtown. At the Augusta Common… I knew that I wanted to call this a jazz festival from the start… jazz is everyman’s music. Music of, by and for the people. ”
In addition to the name change, they have added new daytime events, including a free ArtWalk from 2-5 p.m.
“We’ve added a late afternoon art walk and street fair, which is free to attend between 2-5 p.m.,” says Gordon. “I’ve worked with Tyler Ashlin (Butterfly Photography Company) on a couple of Candlelight Jazz events this year, and we’ve been discussing a Sunday afternoon art walk. This festival seemed like the perfect opportunity to get it started, and Brooke Buxton from The Augusta Market has come aboard to help us manage it. We’d love to make the Sunday ArtWalk a quarterly event and possibly partner with Artists Row.”
Aside from the name change and the added free events, patrons can expect the same quality jazz event that Garden City Jazz is known for.
“The music hasn’t changed much — it’s still amazing. It’s still jazz,” says Gordon, and then adds about this year’s music lineup. “The performers come from all walks of life, all ages and levels of experience. All are either local or have a strong connection to the Augusta area. Festival headliner London Arrington is no stranger to Augusta, having performed here with his own band or sat in with numerous others or recorded with Wycliffe Gordon at the old Studio South… Kickin’ Brass is a New Orleans-style brass band comprised of active duty soldiers from Fort Gordon… Elliot Holden isn’t from Augusta, but lives in Atlanta now. His set will consist of mixed multi-media, jazz-inspired rock and acoustic guitar. Buzz Clifford is 69 years old and has recently returned home to Aiken. He is a hit with young and old, and has been since the days of Le Café Du Teau and Word of Mouth Café. Augusta’s Young Lions with Joel Cruz represent our young people and the future of jazz.”
Sunday, September 2
The Commons Jazz Festival 2012
Sunday, September 2
$20, adults; $15, military, seniors and students; free, kids under 12
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