Introducing the Westsylvania Jazz and Blues Festival
The Westsylvania Jazz and Blues Festival will bring national, regional, and local jazz and blues musicians to downtown Indiana, Pennsylvania for a free, outdoor festival. The one-day festival is tentatively scheduled to take place Saturday, May 24, 2014 in Indiana’s brand-new IRMC Park on North Seventh Street.
Who we get as a main act depends on how much money we raise and who's available when we reach our goal. We’re looking for someone who’s accessible, nationally known, and going to draw a crowd not just from Indiana, but from Pittsburgh, Johnstown, and beyond.
Who Else Is Playing?
We plan on music from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on the day of the festival, with lots of local and regional musicians playing. We're looking for regional and local jazz and blues bands, including jazz ensembles from our local high schools, student musicians from IUP, and local musicians such as Ferguson and Friends, Stanley Chepaitis, Dad Band, and more. As our budget allows, we’ll look to Pittsburgh and beyond to bring in more regionally and nationally known bands and musicians.
Dad Band has always reached out to introduce kids to live performance and jazz. We’ll be doing that for the festival too, bringing our in-school educational programs to schools across the county. We hope to be joined by other local musicians and, if budget allows, our regional and national acts.
Downtown Indiana, Pennsylvania
Vibrant Downtown Indiana is one of the stars of the Westsylvania festival. With IRMC Park, Indiana’s new “people place” being completed this fall, we’ve got the perfect venue for a festival that can attract people from across the region to Indiana. We expect downtown businesses to get a boost from the festival (and we’re hoping to see the festival continue after hours in local eateries once the main festival is done).
We're establishing a regional jazz festival with a local flavor, and Westsylvania is our region! The name Westsylvania originates in a Revolutionary-War era proposal for a 14th state that would have taken much of what is now southwestern Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Westsylvania also has a strong tradition of producing great jazz musicians, from Earl "Fatha" Hines through Billy Strayhorn, Mary Lou Williams, Art Blakey, Stanley Turrentine, Roger Humphries, Ahmad Jamal and many others.
Our Team: Dad Band, the Indiana Arts Council, and Indiana Theater
When Dad Band started talking about bringing an outdoor jazz festival to Indiana earlier this year, we had no idea that the Indiana Arts Council was thinking about the same thing just a few blocks away. We’ve since joined forces to put together a super-team of musicians and arts professionals who will make sure this festival happens and that it’s the best it can be:
- Corbin Krug: pianist with Dad Band; former host of WIUP-FM's Vinyl Voyage and Groove Patrol; social worker.
- Dave Ferguson: trumpeter with Ferguson and Friends; bass player with Dad Band; composer; assistant dean, IUP College of Fine Arts.
- Kenneth Sherwood: trumpeter with Dad Band; poet; professor, IUP Department of English.
- Laura Ferguson: vocalist with Ferguson and Friends; professor, IUP Department of Music.
- Matt Baumer: pianist and musicologist; professor, IUP Department of Music.
- Michael Powers: saxophonist with Dad Band; director of electronic communications at IUP.
- Rebecca Slak: executive director, Indiana Arts Council.
- Sean Howard: guitarist; vocalist; DJ; bar and entertainment manager at the Brown Hotel; manager of the Indiana Theater.
- Stanley Chepaitis: violinist; composer; board member, Indiana Arts Council; professor, IUP Department of Music.
Funding So Far
Funding for the festival is already off to a strong start. We’ve been honored by a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts (through the Pennsylvania Rural Arts Alliance), and we’ve received a generous donation from the Lively Arts program at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. The logo items we are offering as rewards for this campaign are supported by in-kind donations from Michael B Shoes. We're thankful for their support!
This project is supported in part by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.
Risks and challenges
We are working hard to minimize risk, but there is always some risk associated with a big project like this one.
Our permit for IRMC Park has not yet been approved, so there is the risk that we are unable to secure a suitable date for the festival. [Update: our permit was approved on December 3, so this risk no longer applies!]
We might fail to get enough money to hold the festival. If we complete this Kickstarter, however, we will be able to hold a festival.
We aren't able to get a suitable headliner. Big acts get booked early, so delays in getting our funding together will mean that we have more difficulty finding a headliner of suitable stature.
And of course with an outdoor festival, there is always the chance of rain. If we encounter light rain, the show will go on. If there's heavy rain, we'll move indoors to the Indiana Theater.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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