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Barstow Comes Alive

Eau Claire Jazz Festival recreates 52nd Street in downtown EC

Taylor Kuether

New York’s historical jazz epicenter, 52nd Street (above), is the theme for the Eau Claire Jazz Festival’s promotional events in downtown Eau Claire.
 
New York’s historical jazz epicenter, 52nd Street (above), is the theme for the Eau Claire Jazz Festival’s promotional events in downtown Eau Claire.

New York’s infamous jazz epicenter, 52nd Street, is coming to life right here in Eau Claire. 52nd Street, the home to jazz legends in the mid-20th century, is the theme of this year’s Eau Claire Jazz Festival, which takes place March 29 through April 1.

This year, in addition to performances at the university and at Memorial High School, 52nd Street will be replicated on South Barstow Street, where jazz artists will perform all weekend long in venues including Stella Blues, Acoustic Café, Obsession Chocolates, and Porter’s, among others.

“A lot of the music that we listen to has its roots in jazz music,” said Patty Horecki, executive director of Eau Claire Jazz, Inc. “There will be a sampling of all sorts of music.”

“All along the street there will be other venues hosting music. We would just love for people to take in as much as they can.” – Patty Horecki, executive director of Eau Claire Jazz, Inc.

The main events are Friday and Saturday nights at Memorial High School and will feature bassist John Patitucci and trombonist Andy Martin. Patitucci is an acclaimed bass player nominated for 15 Grammy Awards who has played with Dizzy Gillespie and Bon Jovi, while Martin has played with Quincy Jones, Louie Bellson, and other jazz greats as well as famous L.A. big bands, more than 75 movie soundtracks, and several Broadway shows.

Those two shows are the highlights of the weekend, according to Horecki. “Those will be incredible concerts,” she said. Attendees are encouraged to venture down to South Barstow Street after the events for even more 52nd Street-style fun.

The weekend’s big kickoff will be Thursday at Stella Blues and will feature Martin in a cabaret-style event. The festival’s closing event will be a Sunday brunch at Porter’s, featuring ragtime pianist Jim Radloff.

Throughout the weekend, venues along South Barstow Street will feature jazz artists and jam sessions, to which musicians of all ages are invited to bring their instruments and play. “All along the street there will be other venues hosting music,” Horecki said. “We would just love for people to take in as much as they can.”

The wide variety of music and venues is meant to encourage people of all ages to come down and participate in this year’s festival, said Horecki. “Our hope is that there’s something for everyone … and of all ages,” she said. “It’s really meant to be a weekend when they can take in a lot of live music.”

For a complete lineup and ticket prices for some events – many are free! – visit eauclairejazz.com. Tickets can be purchased at Eau Claire Jazz Inc. (located at 229 Water St., Room 227), by phone at 836-4092, or at the Volume One Local Store, where you can also buy festival merchandise.