Music Events

BACK IN SWING: Eau Claire Jazz Festival to Return for the First Time Since 2019

56th annual event to feature dozens of performing groups, educational clinics, and other attractions on April 22-23

Parker Reed, photos by Mike O'Brien |

MUSIC TO OUR EARS: The return of the Eau Claire Jazz Festival marks the end of a three-year drought of the event due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
MUSIC TO OUR EARS. The return of the Eau Claire Jazz Festival marks the end of a three-year drought of the event due to the ongoing pandemic.

For the first time in three years, the jazziest event in the Chippewa Valley is back and bigger than ever. 

The 56th annual Eau Claire Jazz Festival makes a rousing return to the UW-Eau Claire campus and downtown Eau Claire on April 22-23, and this in-person event is making up for lost time in a big way. The festival, which is being held in-person for the first time since 2019, will feature four key components: student sessions, master classes, a concert series, and the jazz crawl through downtown Eau Claire.

The major change the festival is making this year is the rebranding of the jazz crawl from “52nd Street,” to simply the “Jazz Crawl.” The event will remain largely the same, with more than 40 bands performing at 17 different venues featuring a variety of music styles including ragtime, blues, acoustic, and big band. 

A signature UW-Eau Claire music event, the festival is run by Eau Claire Jazz Inc., an organization dedicated to music education and to bringing world-class music and entertainment to the community.

Quentin Volk, director of Eau Claire Jazz, is proud not only of the world-class music this “return to normal” will bring to the Chippewa Valley, but also of all the hard work of students in collaborating and organizing to make the festival better than ever.

“It’s part of my job to look out there to see what other festivals are doing, and it’s worth noting that the Eau Claire Jazz Festival is not only one of the largest in the country but the only one entirely run by students,” Volk said.

For Volk, a professional jazz trumpet player and Blugold graduate himself, this long-awaited return to in-person jazz music and education is especially thrilling.

“Many band directors were really grateful for our virtual participation model last year,” Volk said. “While we are thrilled to have 90-100 schools taking part on campus once again, travel is just not an option for some schools for a variety of reasons. We’re really happy to still be able to offer the online performance and adjudicating for those who need or prefer that.”

This year’s headline concert at the Pablo Center features back-to-back evenings of high-energy jazz supplied by two-time Grammy Award winner Diane Schuur and Grammy nominee Donny McCaslin. Guest artists will be accompanied onstage by the Grammy-nominated UW-Eau Claire Jazz Ensemble 1. 

For more information on the return of the Eau Claire Jazz Festival, visit their website