20 Years! How
did that happen?
Paging through 20 years of brochures brings a flood of memories from artists and venues that helped shape JazzFest and forge this long-lasting relationship our community has with jazz and this festival.
There were our early days in the Loft, later to become the Ottoman Empire, with the likes of the Colorifics, Rita di Ghent, Ivana Santilli and Brian Hughes. New Orleans North in the former Westlander, Steam and Bean and the Strathcona Centre were a few other early venues. We had a long love affair with the Black Box Theatre in the Cultural Centre featuring artists such as Patricia Barber, Carol Welsman, Beady Belle, Magic Malik and Nancy King. And who will forget hearing Dave Restivo play an impromptu version of Oh Canada in the early hours on July 1, 2001? We've had a long string of great nights on the parkade, beginning with the Craft in 1997, the great Powder Blues in 2000, the first year we tested the lower level, several appearances by Jack Semple, the Swing Cats, Swarm, Brickhouse, Lee Aaron, and a long stint from our very own Kool Ray and the Hip Katz, who are being featured again this year. And speaking of this year, we've brought back some of the artists who have been a part of JazzFest history. Tommy Banks played the inaugural concert for our jazz society in 1991 in the basement of the Legion. Michael Kaeshammer made his first appearance in 1998 in the College Theatre, year two for the festival. Johanna Sillanpaa was featured in 1999 in the Ottoman, and VEJI played the College Theatre that same year. Chicago native Ryan Cohan was a great discovery in 2004. Cuban singer Wil Campa visited Medicine Hat in 2002 with Grammy winning Maraca and made his first appearance with his own group in 2010.
We remember the many volunteers and committee members who have given of themselves over these 20 years and helped shape the friendly, community-minded face of JazzFest.
And so many local musicians have played through the years in various group combinations, some going on to great things like Jesse Dollimont, who closes JazzFest again this year.
And we would not be here without our sponsors who have, with their money and services, given us the resources to bring this festival to the community. Some of you have been with us for a big part of the ride, and we thank you!
JazzFest has become a part of the fabric of our community.
As winner of the 2016 Alberta Chamber of Commerce award
for Arts and Culture, JazzFest has shown itself to be not only
good for the soul, but for the economy and tourism.
It's been an amazing 20 years... here's to 20 more!
EnjoY tHe FesTival!