Isaac Norris performs at the GRandJazzFest 2018 Lineup Reveal Party at The BOB in Grand Rapids. Courtesy / GRand Jazz Fest Facebook
Jazz music is a widely enjoyed form of art, whether the person listening is a die-hard musician or a casual listener. For those interested in enjoying a weekend of jazz, the seventh annual GRandJazzFest will be taking place in downtown Grand Rapids on Aug. 18 and 19. The event is a free music festival for the entire family that includes variety of activities for all ages.
On April 30, festival organizers unveiled the lineup of performers for this year’s festival. The festival will include musicians such as keyboardist Oli Silk, Western Michigan University student band Lushh and headliner Euge Groove, an accomplished saxophonist with a distinct history in the jazz top 40 charts. A total of ten musicians will be performing across the weekend.
The festival is a celebration of jazz in both the realms of music and live performance. Molly Klimas, public relations agent for the festival, said that the festival is a fantastic way for the citizens of West Michigan to either express their love of jazz or foster growth of a new musical interest.
“Jazz has a way of bringing all kind of people together,” Klimas said. “It’s the great American art form, and in terms of West Michigan, it is the combination of jazz music and the way people appreciate it. This is West Michigan’s largest free jazz festival, and we are proud of that.”
Steve Hilger, musician and festival sponsor, said he agrees with the idea of the festival being a great way to celebrate an essential piece of America culture. Being an accomplished jazz musician himself, Hilger said he is happy to be a part of assembling GRandJazzFest.
“The festival really focuses on diversity,” Hilger said. “Jazz brings a lot of the community together. Young or old, rich or poor, black or white, everybody. It’s a fun place where everybody can come together to have a common denominator and enjoy music.”
Hilger said he is especially excited to have helped organize a festival lineup that showcases a variety of jazz styles. Instead of focusing on one small part of the jazz genre, the festival will highlight a range of sounds and styles, providing something for everyone.
“We have jazz of many flavors, so we’re not locked into one type of jazz in particular,” said Hilger. “We try to focus on a variety of different genres, so there really is something for everybody. There are big bands, there is contemporary jazz. It’s a high energy festival.”
Aside from the strong presence of talented jazz musicians, there will be a wide selection of attractions and activities for festival attendees to take part in. Klimas highlighted face painting, an outdoor area for food and drink, and a family guitar tent where festival-goers of all ages will be able to try out different types of guitars.
GRandJazzFest will take place Aug. 18 and 19 in Rosa Parks Circle, located in front of the Grand Rapids Art Museum. The event is free of charge and open to all ages.