Rocky Fork Enterprise

Gahanna's Blues & Jazz Festival

Local talent will take spotlight at Creekside

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

Organizers of Gahanna's 14th annual Creekside Blues & Jazz Festival are singing praises of central Ohio musicians who will contribute to three days of entertainment June 15-17.

Presented by the Gahanna Convention & Visitors Bureau, the festival will offer more than 100 hours of blues and jazz music on five stages.

"We had never taken the time or opportunity to figure out how much of the entertainment at the event has a central Ohio connection, but we did that this year," said Karen Eylon, GCVB director.

"It was really amazing. It showcases a one-stop shop for incredible talent. Even though we're getting nationally recognized talent, 98 percent of the talent on five stages has central Ohio ties."

Although headliner jazz trumpeter Cindy Bradley comes from New York City, she'll perform with the Columbus-based Urban Jazz Coalition from 9 to 10:30 p.m. Saturday, June 16, on the Jazz Stage.

The festival's other featured headliner is Texas-based Kim Wilson's Blues All-Stars, performing from 9 to 11 p.m. Saturday, June 16, on the Blues Stage.

Two popular blues and jazz musicians -- one from each genre -- also add to the festival's rich musical legacy of Columbus-based musicians, with blues singer-guitarist Sean Carney and jazz vocalist Lisa Clark set to perform.

Carney and Clark, who mentor young musicians in central Ohio when they aren't performing live, virtually grew up in a world of music, performing with professional musicians in Columbus and on the road.

Clark's influential teachers included Hank Marr, Michelle Horsefield-Carney, Vaughn Wiester, Byron Stripling, Dena Derose and Kim Nazarian Ashby.

Carney has backed an array of local and national R&B acts, such as Christine Kittrell and Jimmy "T-99" Nelson, and gained exposure and experience while serving as Teeny Tucker's musical director and co-writer.

"Preservation of (jazz) as an art form is so important," Clark said. "Blues and jazz are truly America's music. This is where it all started.

"Sean and I have talked about this, and he feels the same way. When you look back at American history, there's a lot of tragedy, but the music -- that's the good part. Where would music be today without blues and jazz? We wouldn't have what we have today without it.

"That's one of the reasons that Sean and I like to work with kids. As they learn and develop an appreciation, it keeps this music alive."

Carney, who will arrive on the heels of his latest European tour, will kick off the festival on Friday, June 15. The winner of both the 2007 International Blues Challenge & Albert King Award and the recent Best Band in Columbus (a Columbus Monthly program), Carney has performed annually at the Creekside festival since its debut.

This will be the fourth year for Carney's Camp Blues, a weeklong day camp ensemble experience focusing on learning about and playing the blues.

Held at the Jazz Academy at the Lincoln Theatre, 2012 will mark the second year Camp Blues has been in collaboration with the festival.

Younger students (ages 11 to upper teens) will learn the basics throughout the week and then will make their debut performances on the Creekside Community Stage, presented by Mount Carmel, at 5 p.m. Friday, June 15.

On Saturday, June 16, Carney will perform at 7 p.m. on the Blues Stage, focusing on the songs from his latest CD, Very Lucky Man, which also features Chicago-based harmonica player Omar Coleman.

Cam Hayden, producer of the Labatt Blues Festival in Edmonton, Alberta, describes Carney as a tireless advocate for artists and the blues, writing articles, being a disc jockey, promoting concerts and serving three terms as president of the Columbus Blues Alliance.

"It's extra easy to root for him because of all the good he's done and the road he's taken," Hayden said.

As for Clark, she is a Columbus native whose father was a musician in the 1930s. With his influence and encouragement, she began singing at age 5 and performed her first professional gig at age 14.

The wife of jazz pianist Erik Augis not only keeps music in the family but also shares it with her audiences and students.

A jazz educator for more than 15 years, Clark also co-founded and is the leader of Jazz 4 Kids, a program designed to get children in kindergarten through third grade interested in jazz via live performances in a school setting. She will perform at 5:30 p.m. Friday, June 15, on the Jazz Stage and will feature songs from her new CD that will be released in July, called The Colossal Joy Project.

Clark said it's filled with "positive music" and was recorded with some of her favorite local musicians.

In addition to sets from Carney and Clark, the festival has more than 60 acts scheduled.

Festival hours are from 5 to 11 p.m. Friday, June 15; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, June 16; and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday, June 17.

General admission is $4. Children under age 12 will be admitted for free. Members of the military and their immediate family members also receive free admission with proper ID.

A weekend pass is $10 and may be pre-purchased or purchased at the entry gate Friday night only. Free admission will be available from noon to 2 p.m. Sunday for each person who brings at least one nonperishable food donation for Mid-Ohio Foodbank.

For a complete entertainment schedule, go to creeksidebluesandjazz.com or call the GCVB at 614-418-9114.

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