The program for this year’s Fort Langley Jazz and Arts Festival has doubled in size – now spanning an entire weekend with two days of free jazz on two outdoor stages, four pop-up stages, a kids zone, and three ticketed events.
Last year, the festival was a dream come true for partners and organizers Karen Zukas and Dave Quinn. The collection of musical acts – comprised of friends and fellow artists – covered one single day with two separate stages.
Festivities ended up shattering expectations, attracting thousands of folks looking to swing and sing to live music – thus setting the stage for the year to come.
“After the success of last year, the re-occurring comments were that people wanted more music, longer days, headliner acts, and more for kids to do,” Zukas explained. “Based on that feedback, we planned our second year.”
Fifty-seven acts are planned to play over the July 26 to 28 weekend, ranging from blues, varying types of jazz, children’s entertainment, and even a tribute to old blue-eyes himself, Frank Sinatra.
“We receive tremendous community support. We are a community festival developed by the community for the community,” Zukas said. “Our mandate is that live music and arts should be accessible in the community. We want to help local musicians and up-and-comers, contribute to economic diversity, and enhance Fort Langley as a destination.”
Friday night kicks the festivities off with the first ticketed concert, Friday Night All-Star Blues Show from 7 to 10 p.m. inside the Fort Langley National Historic Site.
“The fort is a natural amphitheatre. It just has that perfect slope,” Quinn said.
Actor and musician Jim Byrnes will be the night’s master of ceremonies; he took the gig because of the “special venue,” and said “it’s not everyday you get to perform in a fort.”
The other ticket-only events include a Big Band Swing Dance night on Saturday inside the Community Hall.
“That hall was designed for big bands,” Quinn explained. “There will be a 10 piece band which they call a ‘little big band’ which will also have swing dancers doing the Lindy Hop and a tribute to Frank Sinatra.”
A Sunday night gospel/soul concert at the Chief Sepass Theatre rounds out the weekend, but that doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of what audiences can see.
Musicians of differing sounds and styles will take over almost every corner of the village including all three aforementioned venues and two additional stages outside the community hall which alternate from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Familiar faces like the Langley Ukulele Ensemble will even be playing for the Lions Club Pancake breakfast on Sunday morning from 8 to 10 a.m.
Other musicians will play after parties, happy hours, and brunches at local restaurants and watering holes throughout the village.
When it comes to the variety of what is heard, Quinn said the goal is to inform and educate people on the different styles of jazz.
“Jazz is not just for your parents. It’s a genre of music that has a lot of crossover with a string orchestra or jazz hip-hop, funk or Latin. It’s diverse, and we try to celebrate all different styles,” Quinn said.
Beyond the live music, kids can enjoy an array of free activities including a “musical instrument petting zoo” hosted by Long & McQuade and learn how to make their own indigenous drum.
The jazz and arts festival has also partnered with the Langley Arts Council to bring a whole other visual component to the weekend. A free art exhibit called All that Jazz will be open to the public on the Saturday in the Fort Langley Community Hall from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Additionally, there will be a 13-stop guided art walk tour stopping at all of the local studies, galleries, and artistic hot spots.
Really, the only component people won’t find at this festival are out-of-town trinkets. “No food trucks and no vendors because we want to support local,” Quinn said.
“It’s a passion project,” Zukas added, saying they started planning the day after last year’s festival.
“We put in about 60 hours a week – it’s the first thing we think when we get up and last when we go to bed. But when you find something you love, it doesn’t feel like work.”
Beyond the ticketed events (purchase at www.fortlangleyjazzfest.com) everything else is free.
“Live music should be everywhere,” said Quinn. “I want Fort Langley to be known as ‘Jazz Town’.”
A Mardi Gras-style parade will officially open the 2019 Jazz and Arts Festival at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday morning. People are invited to dress up meet at the Fort Langley Village Farmers’ Market at St. Andrew’s Anglican Church to stroll through the streets to New Orleans Jazz.
Working tirelessly to put the 2019 event on, Quinn and Zukas said plans are already underway for next year.
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