My SLO Jazz Festival Experience

As I walked down the street from the parking garage on Palm street, I could hear the Bass walking with me. I heard the screaming horn lines and thick block chords of the piano as I approached Mission Plaza, San Luis Obispo.

Jazz was taking over SLO. The buzzing of people young and old could be heard throughout the plaza. As I entered the Festival I was greeted by some kind ladies who took it upon themselves to point out a few things, give us our bands, programs, and sent us on our way.

My friend and I started out by listening to the main stage band at the time, Lavay Smith and Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers. An energetic group with an enthusiastic singer. Her “little big band” was a group of all stars from all corners of Jazz, playing in-sync effortlessly. A great group to get the festival going. I soon went to the Broad Street Stage to check out Human Nation. A local group consisting of Cuesta’s very own Ron McCarley on saxes and flute, guitarist Adam Levine, bassist Bill Wingfield, two drummers, Dean Giles and Darrell Voss, and Brett Mitchell on Keyboard/Piano. Their tunes were a great blend of funk, fusion, world and some straight-ahead Jazz.

At this point we headed over to the Youth in Music Stage located in the SLO History Museum. We caught the tail-end of the Invitational High School Jazz Band. A talented young group made up of some great players that really knew how to play! After that group came the talented Summer Jazz Workshop band. Made from players that were part of the Summer Jazz workshop that takes place each summer at Cuesta College. Harlan Guio and Mathew Evans were two of these players that took part and both played extremely well that day. Because of the Workshop? Or perhaps the spirit of Jazz!

I started to get hungry and didn’t have to search long for some great food! I had a Spencer Makenzie’s fish taco and a meatball marinara from Mama’s Meatball and both were phenomenal. As we ate we could hear the Boogie Woogie pianists rippin’ it up on the Broad Street stage. The amount of technical ability was astounding and their ability to make the audience laugh was no joke either.

We made our way back to the Youth stage to check out Sperdak. An inspiring group from the SLO area that really blew me away. There interaction while playing and energy was undeniable and there original tunes were beautiful. Definitely one of my favorites of the night.

The main stage was still bright from the sun when Alfredo Rodriguez took to the piano. Hailing from Cuba, Alfredo is relatively new to the Jazz scene but that didn’t stop him from reaching new heights of harmony and rhythm on stage for everyone to see. A masterful artist. Next up, the headliner Joshua Redman. His band was surrounded by everyone left at the festival and he blew their socks off one by one. Everyone was mesmerized by the artistry and you could tell as you looked around.

Great music, kind people, amazing food, perfect weather, FANTASTIC musicians, and a cute town to host it all. Who could ask for anything more? A night I will never forget.

As I walked down the street from the parking garage on Palm street, I could hear the Bass walking with me. I heard the screaming horn lines and thick block chords of the piano as I approached Mission San Luis Obispo.

Jazz was taking over SLO tonight. The buzzing of people young and old could be heard throughout the park. As I entered the Festival I was greeted by some kind older ladies who took it upon themselves to point out a few things, give us our bands, programs, and sent us on our way.

My friend and I started out by listening to the main stage band at the time, Lavay Smith and Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers. An energetic group with an enthusiastic singer. Her “little big band” was a group of all stars from all corners of Jazz, playing in-sync effortlessly. A great group to get the festival going. I soon went to the Broad Street Stage to check out Human Nation. A local group consisting of Cuesta’s very own Ron McCarley on saxes and flute, guitarist Adam Levine, bassist Bill Wingfield, two drummers, Dean Giles and Darrell Voss, and Brett Mitchell on Keyboard/Piano. They’re tunes were a great blend of funk, fusion, world and some straight-ahead Jazz.

At this point we headed over to the Youth in Music Stage located in the SLO History Museum. We caught the tail-end of the Invitational High School Jazz Band. A talented young group made up of some great players that really knew how to play! After that group came the talented Summer Jazz Workshop band. Made from players that were part of the Summer Jazz workshop that takes place each summer at Cuesta College. Harlan Guio and Mathew Evans were two of these players that took part and both played extremely well that day. Because of the Workshop? Or perhaps the spirit of Jazz!

I started to get hungry and didn’t have to search long for some great food! I had a Spencer Makenzie’s fish taco and a meatball marinara from Mama’s Meatball – both were phenomenal. As we ate we could hear the Boogie Woogie pianists rippin’ it up on the Broad Street stage. The amount of technical ability was astounding and their ability to make the audience laugh was no joke either.

We made our way back to the Youth stage to check out Sperdak. An inspiring group from the SLO area that really blew me away. Their interaction while playing and energy was undeniable and their original tunes were beautiful. Definitely one of my favorites of the night.

The main stage was still bright from the sun when Alfredo Rodriguez took to the piano. Hailing from Cuba, Alfredo is relatively new to the Jazz scene but that didn’t stop him from reaching new heights of harmony and rhythm on stage for everyone to see. A masterful artist. Next up, the headliner Joshua Redman. His band was surrounded by everyone left at the festival and he blew their socks off one by one. Everyone was mesmerized by the artistry and you could tell as you looked around.

Great music, kind people, amazing food, perfect weather, FANTASTIC musicians, and a cute town to host it all. Who could ask for anything more? A night I will never forget.

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