By Tim Kalinowski on May 5, 2017.
The road toward the 21st annual Medicine Hat JazzFest began with a a special launch at the Days Inn on Thursday.
Guests and sponsors were treated to some smooth jazz melodies by guitarist Rick Lett, complimentary beverages and a courtesy luncheon prior to the official kickoff. Master of Ceremonies for the event was Kodi Hutchinson, a well-regarded radio announcer with CKUA in Calgary who makes a point of attending JazzFest every year to broadcast some of the performances.
Festival producer Lyle Rebbeck announced JazzFest will be adding Beveridge Landmark Events as a new venue this year. On June 24 the Beveridge’s ballroom will be hosting a swing-jazz community dance for ticket holders with free lessons offered earlier in the day at no extra charge. Medicine Hat’s two local brewers, Hell’s Basement and Medicine Hat Brewing Co., will also be holding a special tasting during event, and Medicine Hat’s own piano man Craig Lermont will be providing additional entertainment in The Cellar.
Other headliners for this year’s JazzFest will include CBC Radio 2 host and well-known jazzman Tim Tamashiro, Juno award winner Al Muirhead, featuring Laila Biali, Matt Savage and Cheryl Fisher.
Rebbeck said this year’s JazzFest will be highlighting more Canadian talent than ever before to celebrate the nation’s 150th birthday.
“We have always been a supporter of Canadian artists, and as Canadians we have nothing to apologize to the world about jazz, right? Think of Oscar Peterson and Diana Krall, both great Canadian jazz artists. This year when you go through the brochure you will see a little maple leaf beside the Canadian artists we are highlighting for this year’s festival.”
Rebbeck also announced festival passes will be increasing from $139 to $149 this year but Hatters should see every penny of that increase represented by the quality of this year’s lineup and venues.
“We are bringing 50 events to you this year, and 110 musicians at 23 venues all over town for the eight days of JazzFest.”
Mayor Ted Clugston said one cannot overstate the importance of JazzFest to Medicine Hat.
“JazzFest is important to the community. For me, JazzFest is the kickoff to the summer, and it’s just a fabulous week. You know something else I love about JazzFest? You don’t really have to even like jazz to love JazzFest,” he said.
JazzFest starts on June 18 and goes until June 25.
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