Music enthusiasts will have an opportunity to catch their favorite jazz performers as the 30th Annual Suncoast Jazz Festival returns to sunny Clearwater Beach Friday, November 18 through Sunday, November 20 and brings with it an impressive lineup of talented acts. Two of Clearwater Beach’s elegant hotels share in hosting duties this year as musicians bring their talents to various venues across Sheraton Sand Key Resort and Marriott Suites Sand Key.
A trio of jazz legends will also be gracing the stage as part of this year’s festivities. Bassist John Lamb, saxophonist Houston Person (pictured) and pianist Johnny Varrow will be performing live onstage. Person has more than 75 albums on his resume as a bandleader and recorded with the likes of such greats as Lena Horne, Lou Rawls, Etta Jones and Johnny “Hammond” Smith.
Jazz legend Houston Person will perform at this year’s festival
Other performers in this year’s Festival include acclaimed drummer Jason Marsalis, jazz pianist Judy Carmichael, Professor Cunningham & His Old School (pictured at top of article), Cornet Chop Suey, Tom Rigney & Flambeau, Sierra Seven, La Lucha, Heather Thorn and Vivacity, Bakey and Betty, All Downing All Stars, Jim Gover’s Dixieland Jam Sessions and much more. A listing of the full weekend music schedule is available on the event website as well as its Facebook page.
During the festival, the two hosting venues will present a series of special events taking place all weekend long. On Friday, the Sheraton holds Parasol Parade & Music poolside in the morning, and the Sheraton hosts a Swing Dance Party that evening in S.T. Bear’s Den at 7 p.m. (with dance instruction available onsite at 6 p.m.). Saturday, The Ladies of Suncoast come out to perform in Haley’s Music Hall at the Sheraton. Performers include Betty Comora, Caroline Dahl, Daniela Soledade, Heather Thorn, Jane Campedelli, Judy Carmichael, Katie Thiroux, Molly Sayles, Pepper, Synia Carroll, Theo Valentine, and Theresa Scarvarda. Finally, on Sunday, the Festival offers Music for a Sunday Morning held inside Haley’s Music Hall with Dave Bennett Quartet featuring Theo Valentin followed by 90 Minutes of Kermit Ruffins and his set, Struttin’ with Some Bar-B-Que.
(Above: Dave Bennett Quartet with Theo Valentin and American jazz trumpeter Kermit Ruffins
will take part in one of the festival’s special events, Music for a Sunday Morning.)
Tickets are available by day or for the whole three days of music. Three-Day Weekend tickets cost $225 ($195 early bird, deadline ends 10/1). Friday tickets (11:00 a.m. to midnight) are $85 (for after 6:00 p.m. including Swing Dance, $40). Saturday tickets (10:00 a.m. to midnight) are $95 or $40 for after 6:00 p.m. Sunday tickets (9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.) are $55. All tickets are available for purchase at the event website where a downloadable form is available as well as secure online purchase available through EventBrite.
The Suncoast Jazz Festival is a presentation of Suncoast Classic Jazz Inc., a Florida Not-for-Profit 501(c)(3) Corporation dedicated to the preservation and promotion of jazz music. Each year, the festival offers opportunities for professional musicians and aspiring musicians from across North America to come together to share in their love and passion for the music genre. Due to the nonprofit’s success and community support, the organization has been able to provide financial assistance to area musicians, school and local bands with overall contributions totaling about $100,000.
For the latest details about this year’s Suncoast Jazz Festival, visit the event website by clicking here. Readers can also follow lineup updates and any other Festival news by following the event at its Facebook page.
by Chris Kuhn exclusively for Destination Tampa Bay. All photos and images courtesy of Suncoast Jazz unless specified for editorial purposes only–all right reserved.