Live jazz and a juried art show will take over Main Street in Lock Haven this weekend, at the 3rd annual Lock Haven Jazz and Art on Main Street Festival, or “JAMS” for short.
“It’s all in the same block, because we actually close it off,” says Carol Ann Simon Cillo, a mixed media artist and president of the Clinton County Arts Council. She’s a co-founder of the festival.
“It’s a wonderful intimate setting that you can walk through, look at some art, buy a piece of jewelry, walk over and have a gumbo or something,” she says. “It’s like a little touch of Europe. Everything comes outside onto the sidewalk.”
Simon Cillo says the Clinton County Arts Council, had already been active in the visual arts, showing work at The Station Gallery in Lock Haven.
“But we wanted to get into the musical end of the arts,” she said. “And we just said, ‘Why don’t we start a jazz festival?’”
The festival’s co-founder, Steven Getz, says they wanted to make sure they didn’t duplicate any of the other nearby festivals.
“And there’s a lot of music festivals around,” Getz says.”In Williamsport they have the blues festival; there’s a bluegrass festival in Clinton County; of course, the normal rock stuff that you can hear every weekend throughout the area. So, we decided to look at jazz because there wasn’t a lot of that going on.”
And there happened to be a strong jazz program in town: at Lock Haven University.
“So that we were able to make that connection,” Getz says. And we could bring in some big name people that were coming to Lock Haven, that many smaller communities may have trouble attracting, because we have connections with those people. We have some of the best jazz musicians in the Northeast.”
One of the familiar names is saxophonist and composer Rick Hirsch.
“Rick is a fantastic musician,” says Getz. “He plays in a smaller group of his, but then he’s co-leader of the Zeropoint Big Band. So they’ll be down there. They come every year.”
(SOUND BITE OF THE ZEROPOINT BIG BAND)
“ We have Nancy and Spencer Reed from out in the Strausburg area, that are just fantastic.”
(SOUND BITE OF NANCY AND SPENCER REED)
“You know, Nancy has this just wonderful voice,” says Getz. “And Spencer is just an amazing musician, too.”
The festival performers will include The Pennsylvania Jazz Collective, Lock Haven locals Graham Dion and Eddie Severn, and more.
“And this year we’re kind of excited,” Getz says, “because we have partnered with the Lock Haven City Concert Series to bring in a band every year that plays on the river that’s a little different from the classic jazz stuff. So we have the Chicago Authority coming in.”
(SOUND BITE OF THE CHICAGO AUTHORITY)
Chicago Authority is a tribute band covering songs by the band Chicago. They’ll be playing on a floating stage in the Susquehanna River.
And while musicians perform, so will a couple of plein air artists: you can watch Karl Eric Leitzel and Susan Nicholas Gephart putting paint to canvas at the festival. And Simon Cillo says there will be plenty of artists selling their work at the festival.
“They’re all juried,” she says. “And we have a committee that does that. And we want to make sure there’s a good quality level of things, and that there’s a variety of things, so that we don’t have all the same kind of art there. So we’ll have ceramics and jewelry and soap-makers and wood artists: a variety of different things for people to view and buy along with listening to the music at the same time.”
Getz says the festival is not just good business for artists and musicians.
“We made it so that it was business-friendly,” he says. “Restaurants and pubs and clubs around the area look forward to this, because they actually see that there’s money in the arts - which we all know, but sometimes people need convinced. They get pretty excited about it.”
The Lock Haven Jazz and Art on Main Street Festival begins Saturday morning.