Young adults can enjoy a new mix of music as Gahanna's Creekside Blues & Jazz Festival marks its 20th anniversary.

"Every year, we strive to add a new component to the Creekside Blues & Jazz Festival, that not only freshens the event for fans who attend year to year but also has the potential to expand our audience reach," said Laurie Jadwin, executive director of Gahanna Convention & Visitors Bureau, also known as Visit Gahanna.

Visit Gahanna serves as the producer of the festival, to be held June 15-17.

"In evaluating what we could add for this year's festival, we realized that there was an audience that we perhaps were overlooking -- our young adults," Jadwin said. "With that, we are thrilled to introduce our new Music Discovery Stage presented by COTA."

The stage will be in the Family Fun Zone in Gahanna Veterans Memorial Park, 73 W. Johnstown Road.

On June 15, Cousin Simple, one of central Ohio's hottest young bands, will take the stage and perform from 7 to 8:30 p.m.

During the day June 16 and 17, the stage will feature a variety of family-oriented, interactive performances, including Jazz4Kids, Endless Recess, the Irwin Academy of Irish Dance and the Gahanna branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library.

Youth can listen to the music of Blue Spectrum from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. June 16, featuring guitarist and Gahanna resident Zayne Harshaw.

Harshaw, who was diagnosed with autism at age 4, expressed an interest in playing the guitar as a young teen.

"When I was 13, I loved to play the video game, Guitar Hero," he said. "I then desired to play the real thing. So I asked my parents for a guitar. I spent the next two years teaching myself how to play. I love to play all types of music, including classic rock, blues, R&B and some pop."

Harshaw brought his skills to the 2016 Creekside Blues & Jazz Festival when he was invited to sit in with three acts.

The 22-year-old since has traveled as a solo artist and with his band, Blue Spectrum, to Memphis, Tennessee; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Rockville, Maryland; San Antonio, Texas; and to cities throughout Ohio.

In addition to Harshaw, Blue Spectrum members are keyboardist Amelia Walsh, vocalist and bassist "Uncle Al" Jefferson and drummer D'Arco Smith.

"My band and I have so much fun playing," Harshaw said. "We try to get the audience to get up, dance and have a great time."

He said he wants his hometown to know him.

"I love Gahanna," Harshaw said. "The festival usually comes around my birthday, which is June 17. I grew up attending the festival with my family. I am really happy about playing the new stage because I have great memories of that park."

Harshaw said he used to play in the park and ride the rides during the festival.

"I also like the chance to play in front of an audience around my age," said Harshaw, whose guitar influences include Yngwie Malmsteen, Stevie Ray Vaughan and B.B. King.

Endless Recess will close out the Discovery Stage on June 17, between noon and 4 p.m.

Jadwin said the festival's musical lineup has grown from blues to blues and jazz, and now includes an eclectic mix that includes rock, bluegrass, country, acoustic, big band and more.

"Our Giant Eagle Family Fun Zone has grown to feature interactive workshops and performances with local musicians that introduce our youngest festival fans to the world of music," she said.

Given its location in the Family Fun Zone area, there is no charge for attendees to catch the performances of these bands and groups during the weekend.

Festival hours are 5 to 11 p.m. June 15, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. June 16 and noon to 6 p.m. June 17.

Admission is $7 on June 15 and 17 and $10 on June 16.

Children under 12 and members of the military, with their immediate family, presenting military identification are admitted free.

A complete lineup and additional information are available bo going online to creeksidebluesandjazz.com or by calling Visit Gahanna at 614-418-9114.

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla