3. Omaha Blues, Jazz, and Gospel Festival
The Omaha Blues, Jazz, & Gospel Festival is an annual event that includes not only jazz but blues and gospel music too. It has been held at Rosenblatt Stadium in South Omaha and Fort Omaha in North Omaha, always on a weekend in August. Founder, Terry O’Halloran, was also a member of the Blues Society of Omaha until he moved to Texas in 2012.
The festival has included a variety of performers, including Lois “Lady Mac” McMorris, Everette Harp and Preston Love. Tickets are $35 in advance and get bumped up to $40 for those who purchase at the door.
2. Twin Cities Hot Summer Jazz Festival
The Twin Cities Jazz Festival is one of the largest in this particular area of the Midwest. Founded in 1999 by a festival promoter name Steve Heckler, the main festival area still takes up most of Mears Park in St. Paul for a full weekend, just as it did in the start. The festival spills out into venues, such as the Bulldog, Hat Trick, Black Dog, Station 4, Artists’ Quarter, Union Depot, Amsterdam, Heartland, Bedlam, SW Craft Bar, and several others. Joe Lovano, Chick Corea, and Esperanza Spalding are among some of the famous artists who have attended and played the festival.
The city provides free metro transit 3 pm to midnight, Thursday and Friday, from noon to midnight on Saturday. Plus, they award $1000 to the best promotional poster design, which then gets put up in public buildings and establishments around town. Although the festival is free, donations are accepted by the organizers via the festival’s main site.
1. Newport Jazz Festival
Our top choice is the Newport Jazz Festival because of its legacy of endurance over the years.
The Newport Jazz Festival, held in Newport, Rhode Island was created in 1954. Among the famous artists who performed that first year were Dizzy Gillespie and Billie Holiday. The Festival has always been popular and for a time was held in New York City. However, in 1981, the Newport Jazz Festival returned to its birthplace. It is currently held at Fort Adams State Park which borders Narragansett Bay.
This season, prepare to enjoy music with Peter Apfelbaum, Etienne Charles, Kamasi Washington, Kneebody, Steve Coleman, Sullivan Fortner and Eric Revis, just to give a partial list. Ticket information is available on the website. Prices range from $45 to $100.
“Jazz washes away the dust of everyday life.” – Art Blakey
And nothing cleanses the soul like a whole weekend of jazz, all kinds of jazz, from some of the hottest names on the scene today. It’s the perfect activity for groups but if you find yourself on the fence about flying solo just know that they are full of people-watching opportunities and chances to make connections with other music lovers.