While it has been encouraging to see the arts community expand and grow, at times it's almost a bit disheartening when it seems like a piece of the local legacy is left behind.
Don't get me wrong -- it's not something that happens intentionally. Take, for instance, the Jazz Hall of Fame's move to the Tulsa Depot last year. It's just a short hop from the previous location at the Greenwood Community Center (you can actually see either location from the other) and the new digs have actually opened up a plethora of new opportunities for the Jazz Hall to reach out and assist local students.
Nevertheless, the innocent bounce to new offices, accompanied by the growth of the summer's JazzFest (which justified a move to the Jazz Hall and Main Street Promenade) and the evolution of the Juneteenth festival into a much larger event has left something of a summer void in the Greenwood District neighborhood.
When a community is dedicated to growth, however, the success of one event usually births another and that has been the case in downtown Tulsa. In light of the evolution of previous endeavors, the Greenwood Chamber of Commerce and SW Productions have built upon the spirit of Jazz on the Green, JazzFest and Juneteenth to bring a family- and community-oriented event back to "The corner of Jazz and Blues," locally known as Greenwood and Archer.
Funded by major corporate sponsors such as Williams, Pepsi and Cox Media & Communications as well as local sponsors like PSO, KJamz 105.3, Million Dollar Elm Casino and, yours truly, Urban Tulsa Weekly (to name just a few), the Jazz and Blues Heritage Festival is a free event designed to bring families together and give back to the community.
Now in its fifth year, the festival returns to Archer and Greenwood Saturday, August 16, for an evening of music and entertainment from some of Tulsa's best in the jazz and blues genres. The weekend is not just about music, however, it is also about engaging youth and getting them involved in the arts. As such, the festival holds an annual art contest within the Tulsa Public School system, of which the local winners were unveiled this past Tuesday, August 12, and will be on display at the Greenwood Cultural Center. An annual jazz workshop is also offered each year for young students and musicians, usually led by clinicians brought in from across the country.
Of course, the weekend is capped with an appropriate street party and concert that draws families from all across Tulsa. The festivities kick off at 6pm with the TPS Young Musicians, which features an assortment of the most promising young musicians from Tulsa's public school system.
Ray D. Rowe & Down Home Blues then take the stage at 7pm, followed by local favorite and Mayfest stalwarts Wallstreet at 8pm to expand the evening's palette to explore blues and R&B, respectively. Once 9pm arrives, however, one of Tulsa's most honorable and respected jazz musicians Earl Clark takes the stage with his band, Jazz Spectrum.
Clark's presence and reputation alone should be enough to call it an evening, but instead, he is a precursor of what's to come. As the honorary recipient of the 2007 Community Spirit Award, Clark provides an appropriate segue to the 2008 award, which will be presented to Michael Johnson, formerly of the Williams Companies, for his efforts and involvement in community issues.
Finally, Grady Nichols closes out the evening with a headlining performance at 10:30pm.
By combining music, arts and food and drink in a block-party type atmosphere, the Corner of Greenwood and Archer is the perfect place to relax and enjoy arts and music with the family. Admission is free, however coolers, ice-chests and glass bottles will not be allowed on festival grounds. Food and drink vendors will be readily available. So grab a blanket or the lawn chairs and enjoy an evening that reconnects the community with its musical heritage.
Share this article: