The High Country Jazz Festival “takes the stage” June 8-12; Final performances, free events and schedule announced

Now that the final performance lineup and event schedule are confirmed, organizers of the premiere Up Country Jazz Festival have released the full lineup of activities for the five-day festival that will take place June 8-12, 2022.

Uniting in an unprecedented partnership, the Appalachian Theater of the High Country (ATHC), the Boone Sunrise Rotary and the Todd Wright Jazz Studies Program are collaborating on the first Up Country Jazz Festival with eleven unique free and paid events at seven different locations in Boone and Blowing Rock. Events include outdoor concerts, late-night jams, jazz lunches and dinners, and a popular jazz-themed movie.

Sponsored by Explore Boone and Mast General Store, the Up Country Jazz Festival is a collaborative project that aims to “host exceptional and engaging jazz experiences for local residents and regional audiences with proceeds to support arts, educational and civic programs that enrich our High Country home”.

Todd Wright

“More than half of the Jazz Festival events are free to the general public,” said John Cooper, former chairman of the Appalachian Theater board. “This fact is due to the enormous generosity of the many sponsors who make this inaugural event accessible to jazz enthusiasts throughout the High Country and beyond.”

Headlining performances of Delfeayo Marsalis and the Uptown Jazz Orchestra and Voice of New York will take place in the recently renovated Appalaches Theater with the Threesome by Stephen Gordon play outside under a tent at the Chetola Resort. Other festival-affiliated events will be hosted by the Blowing Rock Art & History Museum, Casa Rustica, Lost Province, Ransom Pub and the Town of Boone.

Individual event sponsors include Allen Wealth Management, Blue Ridge Energy, Creekside Electronics, Footsloggers, Maureen and David Moses, Rosemyr Corporation and Village Jewelers. Additional support is provided by Chetola Resort, Deal Law Firm, Moseley & Smith, LLP, Wendy and Mike Brenner, Julie and Bob Gates, Grandfather Winery, Kennedy-Herterich Foundation, New River Power & Light, City of Blowing Rock, the Town of Boone, the Valle Crucis Conference Center, the Watauga Arts Council and other generous individual donors.

The festival’s media sponsors are the Curtis Media Group and Mountain Times Publications The Blowing Rocket and the Watauga Democrat, with additional support from WDAV 88.9 and WCNC 88.7 and Yes! Weekly.

Here is the final day-to-day program for the inauguration Upcountry Jazz Festival:

Wednesday, June 8: The inaugural festival kicks off at 7 p.m. with a public screening of MGM’s classic 1956 romantic musical “High society” at the Appalachian Theater on King Street in downtown Boone. This acclaimed musical remake of Philip Barry’s stage play, “The Philadelphia Story”, stars Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly, Frank Sinatra and the incomparable jazz legend Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong and his all-star band, with an original score by Cole Porter. Admission is $12 for adults and $6 for children 12 and under.

Thursday, June 9: Two free intimate jazz showcases are offered on the second day of the Jazz Festival. From 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., “Jazz Afternoon with Swing Guitars” takes place at the Lost Province Brewing Company, located at 130 North Depot Street in Boone. This is followed from 6-9pm by an event featuring local jazz legends during “A Jazz Dinner with Todd Wright and Andy Page” at Casa Rustica, 1348 Hwy 105 south to Boone. Admission is free, but advance reservations are highly recommended as places are limited.

Friday, June 10: The Blowing Rock Art & History Museum (BRAHM) is organizing a conference entitled “Jazz Personalities: A Connection to North Carolina” at 11 o’clock. There is no charge for BRAHM members and admission is $8 for the public. The Town of Boone is hosting a free event at 5:30 p.m. at the Jones House at 604 West King Street featuring the Todd Wright Jazz All-Stars, featuring musicians Todd Wright on saxophone, Rick Simerly on trombone, Steve Davidowski on keyboard, Andy Page on guitar, Adam Booker on bass and Rick Dilling on drums.

The first headliner takes place on Friday at 7:30 p.m. at the Théâtre des Appalaches when Voice of New York takes the stage of the historic place. According to the Boston Herald, “New York Voices lives up to its reputation as the most exciting vocal ensemble in jazz today…bringing together voices of such quality in a band is rare enough, but the real thing of the New York Voices is how they fit together. …” Tickets are $34.

Saturday June 11: Morning, noon and evening jazz are on the agenda for the jazz festival’s busiest day, starting with aspiring professional artists in the morning and established jazz legends in the evening. From 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Todd Wright students at the Jazz Studies Program perform popular works for free under the historic, award-winning art deco facade and marquee of the Théâtre des Appalaches. This event is free to the public.

At 7:30 p.m., a highlight of the festival takes place inside the App Theater when Delfeayo Marsalis and the Uptown Jazz Orchestra make their High County debut. Among their many accolades is an excellent review of Pessimistic Magazine who said, “Both of Delfeayo Marsalis’ New Orleans-based Uptown Jazz Orchestra, [compact disc] releases… rank among the strongest big band records of the last 10 years.” Tickets are $35 and $42.

From 10 p.m. to midnight, jazz lovers and musicians from here and abroad will meet at the Ransom Pub at 747 West King Street in Boone for a Late night open jam session. This will be your chance to enjoy your favorite beverage while listening to emerging talent and seasoned veterans celebrate this beloved art form. This event is free.

Sunday June 12: Sunday’s featured event takes place outdoors at Blowing Rock from 5-7 p.m., when Chetola Resort hosts the High Country Jazz Society’s performance of the famous Threesome by Stephen Gordon. Gordon is originally from Boone and, according to jazz drummer and vibraphonist Jason Marsalis, “Stephen Gordon is a musician who believes in music. Whether on piano or drums, he always plays big ideas while constantly supporting the music in the best possible way. Single tickets are $25.

The public is invited to stay after the closing concert of the High Country Jazz Festival for free Jazz nightcap event in Chetola from 7:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. with BE Jazz by Shane Chalkeperforming for the public in the tent with Chalke on trumpet, Jim Fleri on piano, Ben McPherron on bass and Michael Willis on drums.

For links to purchase tickets for ticketed events and a full performance schedule for the entire festival, please visit the website at www.highcountryjazzfestival.org.

About Roy B. Westling

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