SPRINGFIELD, Mass (WWLP) – The 9th Annual Springfield Jazz and Roots Festival is expanding to two days for 2022 beginning Friday, August 12th at 5:00 p.m. with a who’s who of local music veterans and a sneak peek (or an unveiling depending on its progress) of the iconic Worthington Street Mural project celebrating Springfield history!
The mural is meticulously restored by Springfield artist John Simpson. He has studied old photographs of the building’s wall to accurately recreate as much of the original mural as possible. The festival brings thousands of people together in the heart of Springfield, MA. This internationally heralded festival is the city’s premier annual event, featuring national stars and local talent playing jazz, blues, funk, Latin, and African music. The family-friendly celebration offers art activities, and fascinating talks on arts, culture, and social justice with local pop-up crafts, food, and beverages. Admission is FREE but donations are appreciated.
Friday night’s musical performances feature Shorty Billups, a soul & R&B living legend (now residing in Enfield CT) who played with Ruth Brown, Screaming Jay Hawkins, and Jackie Wilson among others. Also performing are Valley legends FAT with Peter Newland and their special guest Scott Murawski from Max Creek, Valley blues/rock icon Mitch Chakour (who was Joe Cocker’s music director) and friends, popular Valley blues rockers The Buddy McEarns Band, and soulful blues belter Janet Ryan and her band.
Saturday’s festivities will commence at 12:30 p.m. on August 13th at the Springfield Museum with a parade led by the New Orleans celebrated second-line ensemble The New Breed Brass Band starting from the Wood Museum of Springfield History, where attendees will have free access to the ‘Horn Man: The Life and Musical Legacy of Charles Neville’ exhibit. The parade will end at the stage for the kick-off performance.
In addition to the musical performances, the multi-faceted festival will feature various arts activities and presentations/workshops. Puerto Rican jazz trombonist William Cepeda will lead a workshop about traditional Afro-Puerto Rican music on Friday, August 12th at 5:00 p.m. at the Hispanic American Library. Cuban jazz vocalist, Dayme Arocena, will lead a workshop about traditional Afro-Cuban music at the festival on Saturday. Attendees can also participate in a mural paint party (separate mural project from the one on Friday), a presentation by Puerto Rican mural artist Betsy Casanas and conversations connecting arts with food as well as climate justice.
The annual festival is presented by Blues To Green (B2G), a nonprofit, that uses music and art to center the cultures of the African diaspora within American culture, nurture personal freedom, strengthen multicultural community, and catalyze action for racial and climate justice. Inspired by famed musician Charles Neville and founded by his wife, B2G is a small, but mighty nonprofit led by Black Springfield community leaders.
This year’s full musical line-up can be found at springfieldjazzfest.