Jazz festival organizers hoping to draw younger crowd to this year's festival

Updated: 03/18/2014 5:48 PM
Created: 03/18/2014 4:37 PM WHEC.com
By: Janet Lomax

The Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival is one of the most popular festivals in the Rochester area. On Tuesday, organizers for the jazz fest announced the final headliner. Buddy Guy has been added to the list along with Earth, Wind and Fire, Steve Martin and Janelle Monae.

Six-time Grammy winner and blues guitarist Buddy Guy will take the stage at the Eastman Theatre during the nine day festival along with five other big acts including one that the producers wanted to pull in a younger crowd.

Once again, organizers hope to pack the streets of downtown Rochester with people for the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival. The festival kicks off June 20. More than 195,000 people attended last year’s festival and the economic impact was $10 million.

Producers Marc Iacona and John Nugent announced the full lineup Tuesday with Buddy Guy joining Earth, Wind and Fire, Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers, Michael McDonald, Fourplay and Janelle Monae as headliners this year. Iacona says Monae is the youngest artist in the festival’s history to be a featured headliner. They're making a concerted effort to draw in younger audiences. 

Marc Iacona, festival producer, said.” There are many young musicians in our Club Pass Series but bringing them down to the headliner is something that is near and dear to us.” 

They think Janelle Monae will do that.

Iacona said, “She's phenomenal.  She's a testimonial to hard work, work ethic as well as she's a writer of music composer. She's a vocalist.”

With 322 concerts and more than 1,200 artists in all, organizers say they're committed to youth being a part of this festival.

Iacona said, “That's what you see, programming on Gibbs Street starts with the high school jazz bands as well as the community jazz bands that are playing within the Eastman.”

Rochester native Lou Gramm will be among the artists performing on the free outdoor stages. Closing the festival is Soulive, with a free show on June 28. 

A new venue this year is close to News10NBC. Our neighbor, the Inn on Broadway, will become Squeezers on Broadway.

For more on the jazz festival, click here.

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