Sarnia’s premiere Jazz & Blues event is shaking things up as it marks its 16th year.
“We got a bit of help from the Lambton Creative County Fund to try a free afternoon,” said Kevin Forbes, a committee member with Jazz & Blues in the Village, happening Sept. 20 and 21 at McGibbon Park.
The new Saturday afternoon setup will include performances by the Great Lakes Secondary School Jazz Band, Sisters of Soul, the Chris Molyneaux Trio, and the Stanley Brown Blues Band.
“We’re going to have a few games and activities for kids, and McGibbon Park is a beautiful spot to enjoy an afternoon drink on a nice fall day,” said Forbes.
The annual fundraiser for the Sarnia Organ Donor Awareness Group (SODA), is coming off its most successful year yet, said Forbes. He hopes many of last year’s newcomers return to the event, featuring two days of popular jazz and blues acts, from up-and-coming artists to veteran favourites.
“I’m looking forward to Friday night most of all,” said Forbes. The headliner is The Nick Moss Band featuring Dennis Gruenling, a 30-year veteran of the Chicago Blues scene, an award-winning harmonica player, and their backing band.
“Nick Moss seems like quite the guitar player, and it’s been a few years since we’ve had a big-time harmonica player up on stage.”
Waterloo-based Elliott and the Audio Kings will open the show.
Saturday night’s festival headlining band features American blues and swing revival group Roomful of Blues.
“It’s always fun to have a big band with a big horn section up on stage,” said Forbes. “And Roomful of Blues have been getting people up dancing for the last 50 years.”
Crowd favourites the Smoke Wagon Blues is returning from Hamilton to open Saturday night’s show.
All proceeds stay in Sarnia-Lambton and are used to assist transplant patients and their families, as well as research and education.
Sarnia’s organ donor registration rate is currently at 52% (ranked 25th in the province) while Lambton County has climbed to 54% (ranked 16th). The provincial average is 34%.
As of this summer, more than 1,600 people are currently waiting for a transplant in Ontario.
Before the inaugural Jazz & Blues event 16 years ago, only 28% of eligible Sarnia residents were registered as organ and tissue donors.
“I think the keys to the success of Jazz & Blues in the Village have been the high quality of the bands we bring into the city, the hard work that goes into planning the festival, and the support of our sponsors and volunteers,” said Forbes.
“You can’t put on a big event like this without some loyal support and we’re grateful for all the help we get.”
IF YOU GO:
WHAT: Jazz & Blues in the Village
WHEN: Sept. 20, 21
WHERE: McGibbon Park, 271 George St.
DETAILS: For full schedule and ticket info, visit www.jazzinthevillage.com