This weekend is a test.
It is a test to see whether St. Tammany Parish residents—especially music lovers—are ready to turn out in big numbers to support what I believe is a first class, major music festival that has come to the North Shore.
If you are a regular reader of this newspaper you already know about it. The 1st annual Camellia City Smooth Jazz Festival has been talked about, promoted and advertised in many different ways for the past two years—particularly in our two papers, Tammany West and The Slidell Independent.
This weekend the Smooth Jazz Fest will be held Friday through Sunday, with a golf tournament at Beau Chene Country Club in Mandeville on Friday, the major all-day music festival on Saturday on the outside grounds of the Northshore Harbor Center, then a wrap-up event on Sunday inside the Harbor Center with a jazz brunch (check details in today’s front page stories.)
I first heard about the festival over a year ago when I met organizers and founders of the Camellia City event, Diane and Will Bias, who showed up at an East St. Tammany Chamber luncheon. When they first told me they were bringing a smooth jazz festival here in October of 2017 I thought, “well, that sounds cool.” But I had no idea the level of talent and the magnitude of a festival they planned to put on.
I’ve seen plenty of other new festivals come to the North Shore, but most are on a much smaller scale and don’t involve 11 musical acts, almost all who are nationally known, or have Grammy awards or nominations under their belts. The talent level at this event is something that has never been in St. Tammany Parish before.
The question now becomes whether North Shore residents will come out and support the festival.
Diane and Will have taught me a lot about the smooth jazz music scene, which I learned more about when I did a phone interview last week with headliner Gerald Albright. The man has an armload of Grammy nominations and has spent a career playing with some of the top musicians and singers in the business. After our interview I was even more interested in the show. The genre of music has exploded in the past decade and there are now dozens of large festivals across the country that draw anywhere from 10,000 to 40,000 people.
Can that happen here?
Diane and Will are certainly hoping so and they have put their money on the line to prove it. Will said they are expecting several thousand people for the show, many are coming from out-of-town and out-of-state. Those who love the music—and the Bias couple is among that number—routinely travel around the country to follow the major acts.
If you are really a music lover you need to give this event a chance—not just because you have been promised it will be an awesome day of music, but also to show the country that St. Tammany Parish is ready to host a major music event every year. The result of that is a tremendous economic benefit for restaurants, stores, hotels and more.
So I can assure you I will be seen each of the three days covering the music and the fun—and if there is one thing I know for sure…this is going to be a fun weekend.
Hope I see you there.
As is always the case in October, the weekend fun events abound like crazy. While the Smooth Jazz Festival is certainly one of them, there are two other big events I hope you also find time for. And let’s face it, we can all find time to attend more than one fun event for the weekend, right?
The annual St. Tammany Parish Fair is already underway as of publication date this week (Thursday) and continues at the Covington Fairgrounds from now until Sunday evening. So make sure to take that wonderful event in—it’s great for the family with all the farm animals on display, not to mention, rides, games, arts and crafts and more. Check out the schedule in our full page ad in today’s paper.
Also on Sunday the annual Warrior Wing Cookoff will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at American Legion Post 185, located at 1680 St. Ann Place (out West Hall Avenue.)
I hope you will also find time for this event since it is a fundraiser for a special group—Bring It Home Northshore—an organization that formed years ago from local business people to have funds to help children who have parents deployed as servicemen.
I have been to the Wings Cookoff in the past and you can’t beat the great food cooked up by competing teams, but best of all, your money goes to a great cause.
I also plan to stop by there so maybe I’ll see you all over the place this weekend.
I do know this—wherever I go, I’m usually looking for a party. Hope you join me.
Kevin Chiri can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.