The Musical Discovery Zone's Family Stage will be the "shining star" at the 14th annual Creekside Blues & Jazz Festival June 15-17, according to Karen Eylon, director of the Gahanna Convention & Visitors Bureau.
She said the Musical Discovery Zone (MDZ), sponsored by Giant Eagle, has transformed during the last few years from groups sharing talent with children to a packed lineup of performers and activities.
It all started in 2007 with musicians from Columbus Blues Alliance and the Jazz Arts Group (JAG) sharing their talent with kids to an array of free hands-on activities that allow kids to beat the bongos, blow horns and create their own musical instruments.
"Last year we elevated it to a stage and this year the programming is absolutely amazing from the caliber of talent and diversity of offerings," Eylon said. "We have everything from wonderful dancers from BalletMet to noted improvisational jazz violinist and teacher Christian Howes. On all the stages this year, we will have amazing talent. But the Family Stage is the shining star."
The Family Stage is located outside of the festival area at Veterans Memorial Park.
"It's great being able to give young people this introduction to music in such a fun way," said Lisa Clark, jazz vocalist, JAG affiliate, teacher and co-founder of Jazz 4 Kids. "Blues and jazz are America's music. It's so important to preserve these genres. As the kids learn -- singing, dancing and playing instruments -- they begin to develop an appreciation for it, and that keeps this music alive."
On Friday, June 15 at 7 p.m., Pett Crow, a powerhouse blues band, will headline the stage for opening night.
Winners of the festival's 2011 "Rising Stars" competition, the group went on to perform at the 2012 International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tenn., as the Columbus youth representative.
Howes will perform Saturday, June 16, at 6 p.m. with Gahanna teen Charles Gleason, one of Howes' students in jazz violin.
A freshman at St. Charles, Gleason has recently been accepted to the Berklee College of Music five-week summer jazz program in Boston. Also performing with Howes on Saturday will be his daughter, jazz violinist Camille Howes Young.
Audience members will be able join performers onstage during an interactive performance by BalletMet on Saturday, June 16.
On Sunday, June 17, children can have fun learning about rhythm while "beating the drums" onstage with Gahanna musician Russ Frost. The audience can then stick around for a special performance by local jazz singer Eileen Howard, who will perform an array of Disney music.
The three-day Creekside Blues & Jazz Festival features more than 100 hours of live music, cuisine, artisans from the region, amusement rides and family activities, plus favorite events including the Rising Stars Contest.
Festival hours are from 5 to 11 p.m. Friday, June 15; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, June 16 and from noon to 6 p.m. Sunday, June 17.
General admission is $4. Children under 12 are admitted for free.
For more information, visit the website at www.creeksidebluesandjazz.com.