The first annual Townsite Jazz Festival promises to be a rare and up-close experience for Powell River music lovers. That is, if they buy their tickets early.
Since unveiling the event last month, festival director Paul Cummings notes that tickets have been selling fast, with some smaller venues expected to reach capacity before Christmas.
“Thankfully, there’s still an opportunity for people to ensure they can get into places like the Fireside Lounge at the Rodmay Hotel or the upstairs at the old Bank of Montreal building,” says Cummings.
The festival's model mirrors the intimate atmosphere of famous jazz clubs such as Café Alto in Amsterdam or Smalls in New York.
“Part of their charm is you never know if you’re going to be able to squeeze in there," says Cummings, "because they’re always so full.”
Adding to the draw will be student groups from School District 47 and Vancouver Island University, who have been tapped to open for artists including gypsy-jazz outfit Black Gardenia and Juno-winning saxophonist/pianist Phil Dwyer.
And, as if the festival’s historic setting is not throwback enough, Cummings is putting together an alumni band to open for the Bruce James Orchestra on April 7.
The ensemble is open to anyone who has ever studied music at Max Cameron or Brooks Secondary schools and has already attracted familiar faces such as Pacific Coastal Airlines president Quentin Smith and City of Powell River councillor CaroleAnn Leishman.
Leishman admits it has been “a few decades” since she last picked up a saxophone, but she says she is anxious to get back into playing shape.
“Paul has given me a couple of books of songs I would have played back in the day,” she says, “and I rented a horn and started blowing some notes the other night. It’s all coming back to me.”
Cummings is hoping to gather players from each graduating class, and even a couple of former teachers to wave the baton.
“If all goes well, we’ll have a 50-piece jazz band ranging in age from 19 to about 70,” he says.
Tickets for Townsite Jazz Festival are on sale now at the Peak office, Rockit Music and online. For more information, go to townsitejazz.com.
Townsite Jazz Festival
When: April 5 to 7, 2018
Where: Various Townsite venues