Annual JazzFest starts spring on the right note

Photos by Tayhlor Stephenson / Assistant Lifestyles Editor

The first weekend of May brought with it Murfreesboro’s annual Main Street JazzFest, just as it has done for 21 years. The highly anticipated local music festival was a two-day event featuring a variety of artists, such as this year’s headliner Valerie Gillespie.

Free of charge, people were encouraged to enjoy live jazz music, local shopping on the town square, mingling and delicious food options from multiple vendors.

Friday’s festivities featured jazz bands from seven different local high schools. Students were welcomed back to the stage Saturday morning as well.

“The music is fabulous this year,” said Murfreesboro local Wendy Holley. “JazzFest is kind of a tradition. We look forward to the first weekend in May every year.”

Just before dusk, First Fruit Jazz Project, a religious-based, all-male band comprised of Mark Cherry (keyboardist), David Cox (bassist), Mike Hunter (drummer) and Alan Cannady (saxophonist), made the stage their home. Their interpretation of jazz music was rather unique with their inclusion of funk and improvisational rock ‘n’ roll.

Next up was the Lao Tizer Band. Comprised of Lao Tizer (keyboardist), Chieli Minucci (guitarist), Cheikh NDoye (bassist), Gene Coye (drummer) and Tita Hutchison (vocalist), the 2011 “Jazz Group of the Year” nominee awed the crowd with their combination of soft jazz and fusion. It didn’t take long for the audience to flood the pit area, transforming it into a dance floor.

“Lao Tizer was really cool. They got into a lot of fusion stuff, so that was cool,” said Nashville native Mike Merriam. 

Headliner Valerie Gillespie closed out JazzFest with a bang. Gillespie showcased her vocals with hits like the crowd-favorite, “Over the Rainbow.” After the audience demanded an encore, she answered with an original titled “Big, Fat Daddy.”
The Murfreesboro square will host JazzFest again the first weekend of May 2018.

To contact Lifestyles Editor Wesley McIntyre, email lifestyles@mtsusidelines.com.

For more updates, follow us at www.mtsusidelines.com, on Facebook at MTSU Sidelines and on Twitter/Instagram at @Sidelines_Life.

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