By Scott Hayes
Meriden, CT — Scaled back from a three-day festival a year ago, the Great Connecticut Traditional Jazz Festival celebrates its 25th anniversary with a one-day event being billed as a “Jazz & Blues Extravaganza, July 30 at the Sheraton Four Points Hotel, located on the city’s rural east side.
The hotel location hosted the event for the first time in 2010 and drew crowds to the two outdoor stages under tents and three indoor, air conditioned stages. This year’s festival will be slightly smaller with one tent-covered stage outdoors and a main ballroom stage indoors. Without major sponsorship, the festival’s organizers were facing financial difficulty due to a drop in attendance in 2010, according to board memeber Ray Ross, and decided it could fund only a one-day festival.
While the duration of the festival is shorter, the musical scope has been expanded to include blues bands, through a collaboration with the Connecticut Blues Society, an organization similar to the not-for-profit Connecticut Traditional Jazz Society that presents the festival that began in 1987.
The music all begins Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m. with traditional jazz (from Dixieland, New Orleans, and ragtime to swing) taking the stage first. Four returning bands from last year — Connecticut’s own Galvanized Jazz Band, a festival favorite; the Heartbeat Dixieland Jazz Band, the talented Midiri Brothers; and The Festival All-Stars.
Blues bands join the festivities starting at 5 p.m. when Basically Blues, Bluzberry Pi, the Peter Scheips Band and Eran Troy Danner Band arrive. The festival, which offers free parking, food vendors and musical choices — trad jazz or blues and outdoor or indoor venues, concludes at midnight.
The Four Points Sheraton, at (203) 238-2380, is offering special hotel rates for the festival. For more information about the festival, call 1-880-HOT-EVENT (1-800-468-3836) or go to the event’s official web site at www.greatctjazz.org.