For years, the Coleman Hawkins Jazz Society had two big events: the jazz festival in the summer and the blues festival in the early fall.
In an effort to showcase a full range of music, the group decided to combine the two into a two-day extravaganza called Hawkfest.
“We wanted to make sure we were able to continue the mission to have music in the community, so we thought it would be good to focus on one weekend,” Andrew Tyler, a spokesperson for the organization, said in a previous interview.
Being held Friday and Saturday, June 14 and 15, at Coleman Hawkins Park at Felix Street Square, the showcase will highlight the aspects that made both events a draw in the area, with local talent sharing a bill with top regional and national jazz and blues acts.
It’s a tradition that Jason Riley, guitarist for bands Soca Jukebox and Under The Big Oak Tree, as well as the owner of the St. Joseph Arts Academy, is happy to see continue.
“I think it’s really important that we can showcase all styles of music. And there was a time when jazz was the popular music. It has a little bit more of a historical feel now, so anything we can do to keep it alive, it’s really important American music. And you can’t quite have jazz without having the blues,” he said.
Friday’s performances will feature Kansas City blues Hector Anchondo at 6 p.m. and Glamour Profession, an 11-piece Steely Dan cover made up of Kansas City jazz musicians, performing at 8 p.m.
Saturday will continue with Riley’s own St. Joseph Arts Academy opening the show at 12:30 p.m. The group is a collection of about 12 young musicians performing pieces they’ve been practicing under the tutelage of the a academy’s teachers. Riley said this is the third year for the group as part of the festival.
“I know that education is really important to the (organization) and just keeping the next generation involved in music. That means a lot to us that they would reach out and include us,” Riley said.
The other performers will include: the St. Joseph High School All-Star Jazz Band (1:50 p.m.), jazz pianist Max Groove (3:15 p.m.), Kansas City rock band The Old No. 5s (5 p.m.), the Kansas City jazz group The Project H (6:45 p.m.) and Mark Chilar (8:30 p.m.).
Riley said it’s an important event to bring a diverse set of influences and sounds to Downtown St. Joseph.
“I just love all kinds of music, and I think that we have to be good stewards of it and preserve it to show the next generation we were here because we came from there,” he said.
Hawkfest is free and open to all ages.
Andrew Gaug | St. Joe Live