Erie Art Museum Presents 21st Annual Blues & Jazz Festival

The Annual Erie Art Museum’s Blues & Jazz Festival returns to Frontier Park to celebrate its 21st year on Saturday, August 3 and Sunday, August 4, 2013. The Festival runs for two days, noon until 10:00 p.m., at Frontier Park, on the corner of West 8th Street and the Bayfront Parkway in Erie, PA. The Festival is the largest of its kind in the region, and is uniquely produced by the Erie Art Museum.

The Erie Art Museum Blues & Jazz Festival annually attracts more than 20,000 visitors for the musical acts that range from regional favorites to international super-stars. Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield will sponsor a Kids’ Activity Tent featuring interactive clay building, free to the public, 1:00 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday.

Blues headliners will include Corey Harris & The Rasta Blues Experience and the acclaimed multi-instrumentalist, widely renowned as a modern swamp-blues master, Kenny Neal. Sunday’s jazz headliners include the Tony Grey Trio and the Jeremy Pelt Quintet. 

Saturday Festival-goers will be treated to a memorable performance Susan Goodman. Saxophonist, songwriter, and award-winning kids’ entertainer, Goodman opens the festival at noon with her family-friendly blend of original jazz, pop, Latin and Afro-beat. Erie favorite Ron Yarosz heads the 2:00 p.m. performance with his band Ron Yarosz

and the Vehicle, playing high-energy blues and funk. Erie-natives in The Breeze Band will take the stage at 4:00 p.m. with a sound is heavily influenced by classic R&B, soul, blues, rock and smooth jazz. Corey Harris & The Rasta Blues Experience headline at 6:00 p.m. With one foot in tradition and the other in contemporary experimentation,

Harris is a truly unique voice in contemporary music. He has performed, recorded and toured with many of the top names in music, including BB King, Taj Mahal, Buddy Guy, Ali Farka Toure, Dave Matthews Band, Tracy Chapman, Wilco, Natalie Merchant and others. Kenny Neal closes out blues night with an 8:00 p.m. set. Neal was born in New Orleans and raised in Baton Rouge. His style combines laid-back Baton Rouge blues with a modern spin on the Louisiana sound he grew up with.

Sunday opens with the Parade Street Dixieland Jazz Band at noon, presenting the roots of blues and jazz in their New Orleans influenced style. Vocalist Lydia Marks takes the stage at 2:00 p.m. as a proud Erie native who has performed in clubs, showrooms and festivals in Las Vegas, New York and Pennsylvania. An original, contemporary jazz ensemble, Cat’s a Bear plays at 4:00 p.m. The band has been performing together for over twenty years. Their style combines traditional American jazz with Latin rhythms and the unique style of each of its members, including guitarist and composer Frank Singer was one of three finalists in the 1999 John Lennon Songwriting Contest. Multi-instrumentalist, composer, master bassist and record producer Tony Grey brings his trio to the stage for a 6:00 p.m. set. Grey is known for his six-string electric bass technique and his blend of jazz world fusion compositions. After studying with Kenwood Dennard, Larry Watson, Bruce Gertz and Rich Appleman at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Grey has gone on to collaborate and perform with some of the world’s greatest musicians including Herbie Hancock, Gavin DeGraw, and Branford Marsalis. Jeremy Pelt Quintet closes out the Festival on August 4 at 8:00 p.m. Pelt has become one of the preeminent young trumpeters within the world of jazz. Forging a bond with the Mingus Big Band very early in his career, Pelt built upon these relationships, leading to collaborations with some of the genre’s greatest masters, including Cilff Barbaro, Keter Betts, Ravi Coltrane, Nancy Wilson and John Hicks. He frequently performs with notable ensembles such as the Roy Hargrove Big Band and the Duke Ellington Big Band and is a member of the Lewis Nash Septet and The Cannonball Adderly Legacy Band.

Almost as legendary at the music is the Festival’s original artwork, artist-designed each year. This year’s poster created by artist John Bavaro. Bavaro stated, “I had the honor of being asked by the Erie Art Museum staff to produce a second consecutive poster for the Blues and Jazz Festival. Of course this year I wanted it to be a

little different than last year’s design and I went to the comical depiction of “jazz”. I based my figures on the classic jazz musicians and tried to evoke the spirit of a jazz poster, in the long tradition of festival posters. I hand-drew the

creatures in a 3D modeling program then modeled the text in Photoshop. I hope this captures the spirit of the Blues and Jazz Festival. It’s the weekend we all love to be a part of and I’m looking forward to seeing it as I do every year.”

Festival merchandise for purchase includes limited edition organic cotton t-shirts, posters and a variety of items for the kids such as instruments, bubbles and glow-in-the-dark necklaces. Local vendors will cook-up festival fare ranging from Pittsburgh-style sandwiches and veggie burgers to funnel cakes and fresh squeezed lemonade.

Again, this year, the Festival has partnered with Waste Management, the Lake Erie Arboretum at Frontier Park and WJET-TV, Fox 66, and build upon the Festival’s efforts to reduce the environmental impact and to create awareness of the need for environmental stewardship.

The public can support the Festival’s efforts in the following ways:

1. Recycle what you bring – no Styrofoam or other non-recyclable materials. Recycling cans are located throughout the Festival grounds.

2. Walk or ride a bike to the Festival. A secure, complimentary Bike Corral is offered for those riding their bikes.

3. For those that drive, consider donating an optional $2 to the Lake Erie Arboretum at Frontier Park to offset your carbon footprint from driving. Donations can be made at the free festival parking location behind Green Garden Tavern. Donations support planting trees in our community.

Other GREEN efforts also are being implemented throughout the Festival’s operations.

“The Erie Art Museum is committed to sustainable practices in all of our operations. The Blues & Jazz Festival is not an exception, and is in fact one of our most successful green efforts. Last year, we recycled nearly one ton of materials, and that is really something to be proud of. Our vendors are again doing their part, by eliminating plastic, foil and Styrofoam, and the Museum prints our Festival guide on recycled content paper and the commemorative t-shirts are 100 percent organic cotton,” said Carolyn Eller, Festival producer.

One of the most notable elements of the Festival is its unique green community park setting. “It’s one giant music celebration,” said Eller. “It’s the only Festival in town that becomes an all-day outing for families. From the beautiful outdoor setting to the music to the kid-friendly art activities, there is really something for everyone to enjoy.”

And, according to Eller, the tent policy was seamlessly enforced last year and greeted by Festival visitors with full compliance. “We clearly mark a designated area at the Festival grounds for tents. In addition to regulating tent placement, the Erie Art Museum does not permit any tents to be set-up prior to 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, August 3. Tents set-up prior to this time will be taken down and can be redeemed at the Festival’s Information Tent.”

Also enforced, are the prohibition of overnight camping and open-flame cooking. “Overnight camping at Frontier Park is against City of Erie ordinance, as is open-flame cooking (e.g. charcoal grills and turkey fryers). City of Erie police will be strictly enforcing this rule. Propane grills are permitted,” said Eller.

Hallmark to the Festival is the Bucket Brigade – a group of community volunteers, which circulate through the crowd to collect a minimum $5 donation per person.

“We ask Festival visitors to help the Erie Art Museum keep the Festival free by making a contribution to the Festival. We only ask a visitor once, and in exchange for his or her donation, we give the patron a commemorative Festival button,” said Eller.

For Festival policies visitor tips and more information, visit