Get Into the Groove
Jazz things up a little with the annual Tri-C JazzFest.
By Jen Jones Donatelli
As home to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland is known for attracting stellar musicians—and the Tri-C JazzFest only serves to boost our city’s cred on the music scene. Now in its 37th year, the popular festival is ready to rock this town yet again from June 23-25 with high-profile performers like Diana Krall and 22-time Grammy winner Chick Corea.
Amid the jam-packed performance lineup, there are plenty of unforgettable experiences on tap inside PlayhouseSquare. Help Tommy LiPuma blow out his 80th birthday candles at his “Big Birthday Bash,” where fellow jazz legends like Krall, Al Jarreau, Dr. John, and others will pay musical tribute. You can also attend the CD release party for Dominic Farinacci (a former Tri-C student who was discovered by Wynton Marsalis at the festival). Or perhaps you’ll pre-game with a minty mojito at Ohio City’s Johnny Mango before heading over to enjoy the catchy Afro-Cuban beats of Cubanismo.
For those who’d rather funk out in the fresh air, there is plenty of fare to keep you entertained at the free Outdoor Festival. Between two stages (one of which sits underneath PlayhouseSquare’s super-sized chandelier), 18 bands are slated to keep jazz aficionados moving and grooving throughout the weekend. (For the first time, Euclid Avenue will be completely closed down between 13th and 14th Streets, so there will be no shortage of space to dance the day away!)
Also new this year is “Keyed Up,” an upbeat kickoff event highlighting the Cavaliers Scream Team, Shaw High School Marching Band, Chardon Polka Band, and stilt walkers and giant puppets from Parade the Circle. You can even sign up to be part of the “Big PHAT Line Dance”—giving you carte blanche to enjoy the caloric-yet-craveable food truck fare nearby.
Don’t want to miss a thing? Snag a festival pass for $250, which will cover preferred seat admission to all nine concerts, as well as an opening night party.
It’s sure to be groovy, baby.
Jazz Around Town
Why limit your love of jazz to the festival when there are lots of great venues around town? Sneak in a show at one of these local favorites.
Brother's Lounge: Head to the west side to check out this historic club—where you can catch anything from big bands and 80s covers inside the music hall to jazz quartets and acoustic acts inside the wine bar.
BOP STOP at the Music Settlement: Between its Lake Erie views and recent nod as one of Fox 8's "Buzz List: Nightlife Spots," what's not to like? Donated to the Music Settlement in 2013, the BOP STOP has quickly become a go-to spot for both established and up-and-coming musicians.
Music Box Supper Club: From the rooftop to the riverfront, this venue makes the most of its prime perch on the West Bank of the Flats. Start your evening at its Rusty Anchor restaurant, then catch a show from its diverse lineup of local and national acts.
Nighttown: With a variety of dining rooms and intimate performance settings, Nighttown has topped Cleveland's jazz scene since 1965, and it only gets better with age.
Take 5 Rhythm and Jazz: Small bites and big sound are the earmarks of this live music venue known for tapas and tunes. As a nod to JazzFest, they'll be hosting a "Straight Ahead Jazz Weekend Salute to Jazz" on June 24th and 25th.
Wilbert's: More than 90 Grammy winners have taken the stage at this Downtown favorite, which is close to Progressive Field and The Q. Jazz is among the many genres enjoyed here, which include everything from reggae to rock.