By KEVIN CHIRI
Tammany news bureau
SLIDELL – The organizers of the first annual Camellia City Smooth Jazz Festival, scheduled for the weekend of Oct. 6-8 in Slidell, have made it clear from the start that this will become a signature event for the North Shore as well as southern Louisiana.
Will and Diane Bias, longtime smooth jazz enthusiasts who have owned and operated jazz clubs and jazz concerts in New Orleans, are bringing the first ever Smooth Jazz Festival to the outside grounds of the Northshore Harbor Center on that Friday through Sunday weekend. With the festival being advertised in six states they expect over 5,000 people to converge on the Slidell area.
But there is even more that will bring many big name celebrities to the Slidell area for that weekend with the announcement this week that the Friday golf tournament at Beau Chene Country Club in Mandeville will offer golfers the chance to play alongside any number of big-name professional athletes.
Hugh Green, former All-Pro NFL player with the Tampa Bay Bucs and Miami Dolphins, is a good friend to the festival organizers and is bringing approximately 20 professional athletes to the golf tournament and weekend festival.
Listed as the “Elite Five” is former Miami Dolphins star quarterback Dan Marino, San Francisco 49ers defensive back Ronnie Lott, New York Yankees pitcher Rich “Goose” Gossage, Tampa Bay defensive lineman Warren Sapp and NFL star linebacker Fred Williamson.
Also expected to play in the tournament alongside locals are former NFL stars Mark Clayton, George Rogers, Jim Covert, Mark Duper, Jimmie Giles, Rickey Jackson, Randall Morris, Beasley Reece, Butch Woolfolk, Carlton Williamson, James Wilder, Art Still and Mike Rozier.
Will said that their involvement in the smooth jazz musical circuit around the country helped them become friends with many celebrities who also love the music. He said they met Green several years ago, were later invited to a fishing rodeo where he was involved, and since then have socialized and become friends.
Green has a business venture to bring professional athletes to special events around the country with golfers paying a premium fee to be paired in the foursome with the athlete of their choice.
“We said we were going to make the Smooth Jazz Festival the biggest thing ever here and we want it to be a premier event in every way, even the golf tournament,” Will said. “The people who come to the concert or play in the golf tournament are going to experience something that has never been seen here in Louisiana before—and we wanted it to be at our home on the North Shore.”
The golf tournament at Beau Chene has a 9 a.m. tee time with entry fees at $200 per person, or $375 per person to play in a foursome with the celebrity athletes.
The tournament is also open for the public to attend for a $25 ticket price, which will allow them to meet the athletes and watch the golf action.
Business signage at the tournament is available for $100 for an 18×24 sign that will be placed throughout the course.
For more information on the tournament, for sponsorships or tickets, contact Hugh Green at email@example.com or call 504-517-3588. You can also sign up for the tournament online at camcityjazzfest.com.
VIP, reserved tickets selling fast for Jazz Fest
By KEVIN CHIRI
Slidell news bureau
SLIDELL – The popularity of smooth jazz festivals in the United States has grown by leaps and bounds the past 20 years, now with over a dozen that draw more than 10,000 people to major cities around the country.
Slidell appears headed to become the next stop on that circuit with the first annual Camellia City Smooth Jazz Festival set for Friday through Sunday, Oct. 6-8 on the outside grounds of the Northshore Harbor Center. Expectations are that over 5,000 people will come to the Northshore for the weekend event in its first year.
Organizers Will and Diane Bias decided that over 10 years of following the national circuit, followed by many years with their own jazz clubs and concerts promoted in New Orleans by their company Jin Jeans Productions, made it the right time to bring the first-ever smooth jazz festival to Louisiana.
“It’s amazing that the New Orleans area has over 400 festivals each year and none of them focus on smooth jazz, an extremely big genre of music,” Will said. “Now we’re going to bring this music to the North Shore and it’s going to become a huge thing in years to come.”
Early ticket sales, mostly coming from out-of-state purchases thanks to advertising in six neighboring states, is an indication that the national crowd following the smooth jazz performers is ready to come to Slidell for the first major festival ever here.
As residents of the North Shore, Will and Diane selected the Harbor Center grounds as the best location in St. Tammany, just off Lake Pontchartrain, where a full day of 11 top national smooth jazz artists are scheduled to perform. Among them are several Grammy winners and nominees who have sold millions of records and toured nationally, as well as internationally.
Ticket sales for the Saturday show, starting at 11 a.m. and going into the night, are going quickly. The $100 VIP seats in front of the stage are already nearly 50 percent sold with over 350 tickets purchased. Those tickets provide reserved seating and easy access to drinks and restrooms.
Directly in front of the stage are the VIP 10-seat tables going for $100 each, or $1,000 per table. There are 60 tables and 27 of them have been sold, with 33 still available.
Right behind the 10-seat tables are two-seat tables going for $200 each, then reserved seating is next for $75 tickets. All other general admission tickets are $50 each.
The Camellia City Smooth Jazz Festival is not only a Saturday full of music on the outside grounds, with a covered stage, but there will be an exciting Jazz Brunch offered at 11 a.m. on Sunday inside the Harbor Center for $60 per person. Will said the lineup of performers this day will include national artists taking the stage with New Orleans-area local talent.
“The local musicians have put out a challenge to the national artists and I will tell you this is going to be some fabulous music from these folks,” Will said. “Also, we have signed one of the top sound system companies in the New Orleans area so the sound for the entire festival will be second to none.”
Additionally, there is a Smooth Jazz Festival Golf Tournament set for Friday that will include nearly 20 former NFL football players and other professional athletes who will be playing in the event and can be paired with locals who pay the $375 per ticket fee. General entry to play in the tournament is $200 per person, or you can watch the tournament and visit with the celebrity athletes at Beau Chene in Mandeville for only $25 per person.
Will and Diane acknowledge that the first year of promoting such a huge event is always the biggest challenge, especially in obtaining corporate and business sponsorship, but they have been planning the festival for well over a year and are confident that ticket sales are showing the support for a huge event is there.
“For our first year we feel like things are going very well,” Diane said. “We are still seeking a sponsor for naming rights to the stage, but we have gotten very good support from the entire parish and many businesses. If this festival is a success this year, and we feel confident it will be, it will explode with sponsorships and corporate support in the coming years.”
Slidell and parish officials will host an invitation-only grand opening to the festival with a Friday, Oct. 6 “Meet and Greet” with musicians and athletes at Patton’s Bed and Breakfast on Front Street. But Will said that a major intent from the festival is to involve local restaurants and other businesses so they benefit from the economic impact the event is bringing.
“We expect thousands staying in the Slidell area that weekend and we are making sure to have information on local restaurants and stores for them go to,” he said. “We want everyone to benefit from this festival and that’s why it’s so important to have support the first year and get it off the ground.
“After that, we believe it will grow into a huge event for the entire parish in coming years,” Will added.
For sponsorship information, or to purchase tickets, go online to camcityjazzfest.com or call 504-517-3588.