The NMA Big Band kicks things off at Diana Krall Plaza as the Nanaimo International Jazz Festival gets underway. (JOSEF JACOBSON/The News Bulletin)

This is just the start for new jazz festival

The Nanaimo International Jazz Festival is filling to the Harbour City this weekend (Sept. 15-17)

The inaugural jazz festival is all about getting the sweet sounds of jazz flowing around Nanaimo. Then, in the years to come, organizers will look at turning up the volume.

The Nanaimo International Jazz Festival is now underway in the Harbour City this weekend (Sept. 15-17) and organizers are excited about the weekend. There are nine events planned, five of them free and four of them ticketed.

Andrew Homzy, president of the festival association, said he had a vision for the festival almost from the first day he moved to Nanaimo in 2009, and always believed the downtown was the perfect location.

“The topography of the town is so charming,” he said. “It reminds me of a little European town with the crooked little main street and the waterfront.”

There’s been a jazz community in Nanaimo for a long time, he said, but he didn’t think there were enough opportunities for musicians to be heard.

“Despite all the tremendous education and the talent that has come out of Nanaimo, there really isn’t a home for jazz and that’s one of the goals of the association…” said Homzy. “We want to celebrate and provide an opportunity for the mid Island.”

He said organizers and sponsors recognize that starting a festival from scratch might take some time and they’re committed to put in their best efforts in 2017 with the anticipation that the event will grow over the years to come.They’ve planned an inaugural event that they think will start to create that momentum. There are shows at the Port Theatre, dance and jam events at the Best Western Dorchester Hotel, and a parade, mardi gras party and free outdoor shows around the downtown.

For a schedule of events, visit