The Downtown Business Association this weekend is bringing back a festival that caters to local jazz lovers.
The third annual Fort Collins Jazz Experience starts Thursday and runs through the weekend. All events build up to Saturdayâ€™s all-day free event where 14 local and regional bands will perform continuously on two stages: The Old Town Square Stage and Oak Street Plaza Stage.
â€œYou either love or hate jazz, but if you think about it, most music people listen to has some sort of jazz influence,â€ said Peggy Lyle, programming and event director for the DBA. â€œThereâ€™s something for everyone here.â€
The summer event, Lyle said, is in a league of its own.
â€œItâ€™s not fashioned after any other jazz festival,â€ Lyle said. â€œItâ€™s pretty unique. Weâ€™ve tried to incorporate as much as possible that relates to jazz like art, history, and dance; not just music.â€
Other events include a Friday jazz art walk, a free concert from the Air Force Falconaires, Saturday workshops offered for musicians and students and late-night jams sessions at bars such as Avogadroâ€™s Number and Jayâ€™s Bistro.
â€œWe expect a few thousand people to attend,â€ Lyle said. â€œAll bands are Colorado based. We have such amazing talent right in our back yard.â€
About one third of the musicians performing are educators representing educational institutions in Colorado including CSU, CU-Boulder, the University of Northern Colorado and the Poudre School District.
CSU Adjunct percussion teacher Shilo Stroman will be performing with his band, Square Peg, at noon on Saturday.
â€œWeâ€™re really improvisational in nature,â€ Stroman said. â€œWe have traditional jazz roots, but we like to throw in a twist of rock or country too.â€
Square Peg, which has been described as hip and progressive, is made up of teachers from CSU and UNC. The band expects a lot of its students to come out to watch them perform. Stroman said he thinks the band will attract another kind of crowd too.
â€œWhile weâ€™re not really a jam band (referring to popular bands such as Phish or Widespread Panic), weâ€™re kind of groove based, so some people who like jam bands will probably enjoy us,â€ he said.
Square Pegâ€™s music is mostly original with some re-worked old jazz standards, Stroman said. They do not have a vocalist, which he said is common with contemporary jazz music.
â€œArtists like Frank Sinatra or Ella Fitzgerald could perform jazz vocally because they mostly sang show and pop tunes,â€ Stroman said.
â€œWeâ€™re not playing pop tunes. We start our pieces off with melodic beginnings, improv the middle and bring it back around with the melody in the end. A vocalist would not serve us.â€
This is Square Pegâ€™s fist year performing at the Jazz Experience. Stroman thinks itâ€™s a great opportunity for the community.
â€œIt a chance to get exposed to jazz â€¦ for free,â€ he said.
Everything from old school be-bop to progressive contemporary jazz will on show at the festival. Peggy Lyle is especially excited about headliner, Darren Kramer.
â€œHeâ€™ll be playing some really great Latin funk stuff, but heâ€™s also well known for touring with Matchbox Twenty, Tom Jones and Duke Ellingtonâ€™s Sophisticated Ladies,â€ she said.
Another band Lyle is excited about is Heidi and the Rhythm Rollers, an energetic retro style rockabilly band that has won two Grammy awards.
For festivalgoers who are coming in from out of town or want a little weekend getaway in town, the DBA has teamed up with the Hilton Hotel to offer nightly room rates of $79 and complimentary shuttle service to and from festival events.
For a complete line up of all events, visit: http://downtownfortcollins.com/dba.php/jazz/
Staff Writer Emily Johnson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.