With the 27th Annual Boscov’s Berks Jazz Fest opening Friday, March 31st, our Top Five List for this weekend is a no-brainer. As the saying goes, when in Rome, do as the Romans. In this case, when in Berks (a.k.a. PA’s Americana Region), do as the locals and Go to Berks Jazz Fest. Here are our suggestions for the top five performances to catch this opening weekend. By no means should you stop with these events! There are plenty of headliners, free shows, and up-and-coming artists to catch during the ten days of Berks Jazz Fest. Enjoy!
Friday, March 31st
Dr. Lonnie Smith Trio presented by Berks Jazz Fest (7 & 9:30 pm, SOUTH Jazz Parlor, DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Reading): Dr. Lonnie Smith, a 2017 NEA Jazz Master, is a superlative Hammond B3 jazz organist and composer who, in a career spanning more than 50 years, has been featured on more than 70 jazz, blues, and rhythm-and-blues recordings. Tickets: $39 (Reserved seating)
Gerald Albright, Patti Austin, and Jonathon Butler (7:30 pm, Santander Performing Arts Center) The Opening Night Celebration concert features these 3 superstars appearing together especially for the fest. Gerald Albright is one of the biggest stars of R&B, contemporary and straight-ahead jazz. Grammy Award-winning vocalist Patti Austin has carved a niche as a wonderful interpreter of soul, jazz, and scat. Acclaimed guitarist and vocalist Jonathan Butler has been using his gifts of song, composition, and instrumentation to communicate the messages of his soul ever since he was a little boy. Tickets: $52.00 (Reserved seating)
Saturday, April 1st
Fourplay featuring Bob James, Nathan East, Harvey Mason, Chuck Loeb (7:00 pm, Santander Performing Arts Center): Fourplay, on its extended 25th Anniversary Tour, showcases immense talents of bassist Nathan East, keyboardist Bob James, guitarist Chuck Loeb and drummer Harvey Mason. It truly is remarkable for a collective of such accomplished musicians as East, James, Loeb and Mason to stick together for such a duration and continue to explore together. No wonder Fourplay is one of the most intuitive, forward-thinking and focused groups in modern jazz. Tickets: $49 (Reserved seating)
Sunday, April 2nd
Jazz Gets the Blues featuring Steve Cole, Nick Colionne, Eric Darius, Clarence Spady, Pat Bianchi, Alexis P. Suter, Vicki Bell and the Berks Horns (11:15 am, DoubleTree by Hilton Reading/Grand Ballroom) Jazz Gets the Blues is precisely that and put together especially for the Berks Jazz Fest. Sunday Brunch. It is a true jazz and blues mix. This super concert blend
s blues classics with burning chops, funky grooves, and high-energy performance. Tickets: $49 (Reserved seating includes brunch)
Snarky Puppy presented by Berks Jazz Fest (6:00 PM, Santander Performing Arts Center) Snarky Puppy is an improbably successful maximalist, stylistically unbound instrumental funk band with 2 Grammy Awards. Bassist, chief composer and ringleader Michael League she
pherds a shifting collection of three dozen musicians, referred to as “The Fam,” who play a variety of instruments including guitar, piano, keyboard, woodwinds, brass, percussion, and strings. Crossing several genres of music, Snarky Puppy has grown a rabid fan base of depth and diversity: young and old, jazz people and lay people, black and white.
Our Top 5 List is merely a suggestion of musicians to catch during the opening days of Berks Jazz Fest. Be sure to get out and enjoy this 10 festival of phenomenal music and entertainment in Pennsylvania’s Americana Region.