Summer is festival season in Rochester and we have many arts and music festivals for locals and students to enjoy. Recently, I spent some time downtown enjoying a few of the 1,500+ artists that came to perform at the Rochester International Jazz Festival that took place between Friday, June 23 and Saturday, July 1. The Jazz Festival is probably the biggest festival of the year and artists from all over the world come to perform on stages in the street, at different concert halls at the Eastman School of Music, and all over the downtown area.
For the Jazz festival, there are headliner shows featuring Joss Stone, Postmodern Jukebox, Sheryl Crow, King Crimson, and Mavis Staples this year.
There were also a series of free shows for people to attend and some evenings workshops for local musicians and students to work with masters.
On opening night, I had the honor of seeing Joss Stone perform live at Kodak Hall at Eastman with my mom. Joss Stone has been a long favorite in my family and I grew up listening to her soulful music. She is a three-time Grammy nominee, Grammy-award winner, and is now currently on a world tour.
Kodak Hall is a beautiful setting to see a show, and Joss Stone put on an incredible performance of all kinds of music. Everything from soul to R&B to reggae. Even from the balcony you could feel her earthy energy as she danced around the stage barefoot in a flowing dress.
She played everything from classics like “Super Duper Love” and “Right to be Wrong” to some of her more modern songs off her newest album like “Molly Town.” The crowd was excited, but very laid back and they sang along to some of her songs and swayed to the music.
The following weekend I decided to attend one of the free shows with a few friends. On my walk over to the stage on the corner of N. Chestnut Street and East Avenue I could see food trucks galore. There were different stages spread out all throughout the East End and festival attendees hanging out at Java’s, a coffee shop right next to Eastman, and hitting up local restaurants and bars.
At the stage, Caravan Palace, a French electro-swing band from Paris was performing. They featured a vocalist and other musicians in the band playing the electric bass, the saxophone, violin, the vibraphone, and keyboards to put a modern twist on the classic swing music.
This crowd was completely different for this show with the crowd jumping up and down to the music and squishing as close to the stage as possible. I could see all age groups from 16 to 60 years old enjoying this concert and getting excited about this fun dance music.
As a swing dancer, it was super exciting to hear this modern interpretation of swing music and seeing some of the band members even swing dance on stage.
Overall, the Rochester Jazz Festival was a complete blast and one of the best events I’ve been to all summer. All students in Rochester over the summer should definitely attend this event.