When organizers of the Nanaimo International Jazz Festival were forced to postpone the increasingly popular annual festival this past fall, they immediately got to work planning how to keep the festival going!
Like many other arts organizations facing similar challenges, they decided to take things virtual by moving their festival online. Now they’re ready to swing into action with the Virtual Nanaimo International Jazz Festival taking place from March 1 to 20!
Festival founder Andew Homzy cited the generous financial support of the City of Nanaimo and Heritage Canada for helping make the virtual festival possible and for allowing it to be free.
“We’ve been able to keep up the momentum of this important music festival so jazz fans from Nanaimo and further afield will still get to experience some fine homegrown talent and just as importantly, performers will have an opportunity to share their artistry and reach a broader audience. That’s what the festival is all about,” Homzy explains.
Festival organizers have assembled a stellar lineup of artists, with a new performance to be made available each Monday, Wednesday and Friday over the three-week period.
Fans will be able to view each new performance as they become available and they will all be archived on the Festival website.
There is no cost to access the performances but festival organizers hope that fans will show their support through donations or by becoming a member of the Nanaimo International Jazz Festival Association (NIJFA).
The nine performances recorded live at the Harbour City Theatre in downtown Nanaimo will celebrate the rich jazz culture of Nanaimo and Vancouver Island and also pay tribute to the music of Canada’s first jazz composer, Shelton Brooks (1886-1975). Brooks, of African heritage, was born in Amherstburg, Ontario but his family relocated to Detroit where he went on to become one of the most successful popular songwriters of the early 20th Century. He is recognized as a seminal influence in bringing jazz and blues influences to popular American music. The special tribute, to be streamed Saturday, March 20, will showcase all of this year’s festival artists performing a composition of Shelton Brooks.
The Virtual Festival will feature: the Anderson Jazz Trio; the Marty Steele Band; and the Lucas Smart Quartet. Week two will see: the Brock Meades Trio; Gerry Barnum and Friends; and the Narissa Young Trio. The Keanu Ienco Trio will kick off the final week along with performances by Nico Rhodes and the Diana Braithwaite and Chris Whitely Quartet.
“We have a fantastic ‘online-up’ for this year’s festival and I hope Nanaimo and Island jazz fans will take the opportunity to check out these free-of-charge performances,” Homzy notes. “Now when there are so many reasons to stay apart it is important to celebrate those things that bring us together.”