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Jersey Shore Jazz and Blues Festival: Shimmy your Jazz and Blues Hands!

Jersey Shore Jazz and Blues Festival: Shimmy your Jazz and Blues Hands!

Soul Project Sax

Soul Project Sax

Welcome to the singer/songwriter beat provided by yours truly, Cat Cosentino. Please call me Cat.

I was looking through your calendar, and I know what you are thinking, “How did Cat get my calendar?”  It seems that you are free June 5th and 6th, so I wrote in that you will be attending the Jersey Shore Jazz and Blues Festival at Monmouth Park Race Track, noon to 8pm, in Oceanport. Maybe it was a little aggressive of me to write “GO TO THE JERSEY SHORE JAZZ AND BLUES FESTIVAL” on all your belongings, but those who have attended in the past agree that I was justified in writing the message on the inside of your toilet cover. I also wrote it on the inside of your eyelids while you were sleeping.

The Jersey Shore Jazz and Blues Festival, formerly known as the “Red Bank Jazz and Blues Festival,” is like having Imogen Heap or KT Tunstall use their sequencing pedal to create a killer festival instead of a beautiful, layering of sounds.  That loose comparison is, of course, inspired by what the Jersey Shore Jazz and Blues Festival actually is, which is an awesome layering music, food, games, racing, and hip people coming together to support the Jersey Shore Jazz and Blues Foundation (JSJBF);  and instead of KT Tunstall, we have chair person and festival coordinator since 2003, Dennis Eschbach.

The foundation is a volunteer, non-profit organization--all proceeds from the festival fund its education, scholarship, and outreach programs.  There are currently 303 active bands and artists as well as 518 active supporters made up of individual, families, senior, and student members. For more detailed information hop online at www.jsjbf.org.  There you will find broadcast information, news about other arts, Jazz and Blues organizations, friends of JSJBF, educational projects, listings of local open jam sessions, membership information, and plenty of details about the Jazz and Blues Festival such maps, admission information, and band line-up.

For those JSJBF fans who have been attending since the beginning, do not fear: a rockin’, energetic, and friendly venue is here. This means all you Oceanport citizens have no excuse to skip out because the festival is now in your backyard. Red Bank Marina is undergoing some construction, so Monmouth Park Racetrack was fantastic enough to host this year.  I’m happy because I can walk to the festival now. For those of you traveling slightly out of your way to attend, you are in luck. NJ Transit, one of the festivals many dedicated sponsors, is making stops at the Monmouth Park Race Track on June 5th and 6th specifically for this event. I suggest you give an autographed copy of TJ Wheeler’s CD to your train conductor as a thank you.

First line of business, you will want to purchase a Jazz and Blues Festival T-Shirt if you want to be stylin’. Then you want to dance your way into all the kiosks if you are feeling thrifty. Do not worry if you are hungry, there will be plenty of food and drink stands to choose from.   June 5th also happens to be the Bellmont Stakes…just saying. There will be three stages of constant music-making for you to travel to and fro.  Make sure to bring your lawn chairs or blankets, no mattresses please, this isn’t Bonaroo.

The “BackBeat Stage” is what Dennis Eschbach calls the “educational stage.” The Jazz and Blues Youth Project will be one of many bands showcased on this stage within the two-day span. The band is made up of approximately 27 talented kids who meet and rehearse diligently in Red Bank. The “DownBeat Stage” is a more intimate venue. It gives you the opportunity to get up close and personal with musicians like Sony Kenn, Moose and The Bulletproof Band, Sandy Sasso, Chuck Lambert, and Matt Wade. Lastly, the “UpBeat Stage” is the main festival stage; it is the monster of all stages, if you will. You will hear the sweet, sweet voices of Soul Project, TJ Wheeler, Billy Hector, Eryn Shewell, The Fins, John Pizzarelli, to name a few.

What I love about this festival is how boys and girls, women and men of all ages can park their lawn chairs, shed the music they grew up with for a day whether or not it was jazz or blues, and simply listen, dance, and enjoy the sound that is present at that moment.  Punks, Rude Boys, Crooners, Emo Lovers, Techno Thumpers, Disco Super Freaks, Hard Rockers, Classic Rockers (and all the other genre junkies) can come together and loose themselves in the roots of jazz and blues.

So come out “to preserve, promote and perpetuate Jazz, Blues music and other indigenous music forms here in New Jersey.” After all, that is the mission.

Let me know if you end up going and share your experience, and, uh…good luck scrubbing my reminder off your eyelids.

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