by Alex Wilks/Special to the Langley Advance
A new music festival is set to take over Fort Langley this summer and residents are getting their jazz hands ready.
The first ever Fort Langley Jazz and Arts Festival will showcase both professional and local jazz talent, as well as an art exhibition featuring artists and galleries from Langley and the surrounding area, said event executive director Karen Zukas.
“There has always been an interest in putting on a jazz festival in Fort Langley,” explained the 57-year-old music fan.
“There was also a high demand from the community,” she said, noting that the event was inspired by the results of an annual Fort Langley community survey.
“An overwhelming response came forward showing that people wanted more music events,” she said.
Contributing 30 to 40 hours a week, Fort Langley residents Zukas and her husband Dave Quinn are two of the five organizing committee members. They’re working alongside Andy Schildhorn, Elaine Brewer-White, and Teresa Pippus, who are in the midst recruiting volunteers, seeking sponsorship, creating the programming, and pursuing promising jazz musicians to take the stage on Saturday, July 28.
“What excites me most is we are bringing together live jazz performed by professional world-class artists and we’re making that accessible to everyone,” Zukas noted.
“We are putting Fort Langley on the map as an artistic and cultural destination.”
The festival music is going to be diverse with jazz tunes ranging from gospel to Latin – and everywhere in between.
Anyone who loves music is encouraged to attend the outdoor, all-age event.
“There are many sides to jazz music,” said 64-year-old Quinn, noting that he has played various forms of jazz professionally for more than 40 years.
“I think it is very important to live in a community where people are exposed to quality music entertainment and this festival is filling a need and desire for that,” he elaborated.
Although the band lineup for the event will be announced to the public at the Fort Langley Community Hall (9167 Glover Rd.) on Saturday, May 12 at 11 a.m., the festival busking slots and more than 50 volunteering positions still remain up for grabs.
“An opportunity to perform at a festival provides a chance for the younger generation to perform publicly,” Zukas said.
“This gives them an opportunity to network, play, and to be part of something exciting.”
Local youth are being encouraged to submit a recording or audition live for the organizing committee to earn a spot at one of the 14 busking stations located throughout the festival grounds.
“The idea is, wherever people go throughout the festival, they will be hearing music from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.,” Quinn said. “Whether they are hearing musicians on the stage or a youth busker on the side.”
Alongside the alluring music, the festival will also feature a self-guided art walk – jazz-inspired artwork and sculptures from 12 professional artists – a silent art auction with items donated from local businesses and a clay station where attendees can build Fort Langley jazz town.
There are many sponsors who both Zukas and Quinn have to thank.
“Once we started realizing there was an interest we started talking to businesses and leaders within the community,” she added.
“It just caught on fire. Every organization and individual from the Township possessed overwhelming support for the idea.”
Fort Langley Community Improvement Society, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Tourism Langley, Canvas Road Productions, Jelly Digital Marketing & PR, Langley Advance, Number 52 Studio & Gallery and Ultra Digital Printing have already donated between $50,000 to $60,000 in funds and services, with both the Township of Langley and the City of Langley donating a stage for the festivities. The presenting sponsor is the Fort Langley Business Improvement Association.
“What I find exciting is that everyone is so enthusiastic about the event. I find that overwhelmingly gratifying,” Quinn said.
Although the festival is free, there will also be a tribute to Motown (a style of soul music with a distinct pop influence) community dance. It will follow the festival, taking place at the hall between 8 p.m. and midnight. Tickets are $30 each.
For more information visitwww.fortlangleyjazzfest.com.