First-ever Jubilee Jazz Festival this Saturday in Chemainus

Saturday jazz festival features RazzMaJazz and other jazz groups, a wine tasting and burger bar at Waterwheel Park and the Chemainus Legion.

The latest and last music festival to hit the Waterwheel Park stage in Chemainus promises food, fun, and “all that jazz.”

The Chemainus Valley Cultural Arts Society (CVCAS) will present the first-ever Jubilee Jazz Festival, a one-day smorgasbord of toe-tapping talent this Saturday (Aug. 25) from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

“We’re pretty excited, and we’ve got a wonderful lineup,” said CVCAS chair Kathy Wachs. “There’s so many different kinds and flavours of jazz, and we’ve tried to represent a lot of them.”

The festival kicks off with The Martys featuring Joan Wallace at 11 a.m. and will continue well into the evening. The lineup includes locals such as Al Eskelson of Cat’s Meow and Alex Watt of the Alexander Group.

Other performers hail from around the Island and the mainland, including Phil Newns and Hot Velvet Jazz, Twango and the event headliner, RazzMaJazz, a Dixieland-style group.

CVCAS has also partnered with the Chemainus Legion to make it a dual-venue event. From 5-7 p.m., there will be wine tasting and a burger bar at the Legion.

Local wineries will be selling samples of their finest wines to the live music of Duncan’s Laura Cardriver on piano, followed by Chemainus’ George Robson on saxophone. Attendees will have the option of staying for the music or returning to the festival.

“People can go pick up their burgers and come back to the park and keep enjoying the music,” Wachs said.

A New Orleans-style parade is being planned as well.

“It’s going to be a beautiful day under the trees,” Wachs said. “Waterwheel Park is a beautiful place; it’s intimate and we think it’s going to be perfect for jazz.”

Wachs jested that any attendees not into jazz music may find themselves converted by the end of the day.

“I love all kinds of jazz — there’s a real liveliness to the music, and it’s a music that arose out of people who were in situations of great difficulty in their lives, and this music arose as that drive to live,” Wachs said. “People were determined to be happy even though under the circumstances, they had every reason to be unhappy.”

She noted that the mid-Island has a strong following for jazz music.

“We’ve been wanting to have a jazz festival for years because VIU has a great jazz program and has turned out some great musicians like Diana Krall and Christine Jensen,” she said.

According to Wachs, Jensen, an Ontario-based musician with ties to Cassidy, is already in talks with the group about attending next year’s event.

Volunteers will be needed to help keep the Jubilee Jazz Festival running smoothly, so if you’re able to help out, call volunteer co-ordinator Karen at 250-416-0262.

The festival is part of the Queen’s Jubilee celebration and thus funded partially by a Heritage Canada grant.

Admission for those able to attend is a suggestion donation of $15, which includes the whole day and a souvenir program. The donation money will be used to subsidize the cost of the musicians, Wachs said.

For more information about the festival, click here.