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'Bigger, better' Jazz Festival takes stage in Lewiston

by jmaloni
Thu, Aug 21st 2014 07:00 am

Outstanding performances and more at Lewiston Jazz Festival

Preview by Autumn Evans

Jazz buffs will again flock to Lewiston this weekend for the 13th annual Lewiston Jazz Festival, where more than 150 musicians will gather in a celebration of jazz music and culture.

The Lewiston Jazz Festival began in 2001 as a small, one-day event. Now, it runs two days, with expanded vendors, stages and events.

"Everything really about the festival is bigger and better than when we first started it," said Sandy Hays-Mies, executive director of the festival. "The festival is so well received by the community that we're excited to make it bigger and better each year."

This year's event has been named one of the top 100 events in North America by the American Bus Association.

"We were extremely pleased about that," Hays-Mies said. "I think it will bring the Jazz Festival nationwide recognition as a premier music event."

She said she expects about 40,000 people to attend this year. She also said the festival provides a boost to local businesses, with an economic impact of more than $1.3 million.

"What we are especially proud of is, people come to the Jazz Festival and come to Lewiston, sometimes for the first time, and they're really excited about the ambiance of the village," Hays-Mies said. "We find when they come here, they really want to return again and again."

The free festival will be held over a two-day period, from 5 to 10:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 22, and noon to 10 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 23. Local restaurants and pubs will host "After Hours Jazz" both evenings.

Concerts will take place at five venues around Lewiston. Festival headliners will perform on the Main Stage at Fourth and Center streets. Concerts will also be held at the DiCamillo Courtyard, the Lewiston Peace Garden, the Frontier House porch and M&T Rising Star Stage.

The festival will feature a variety of musicians from around the country. Festival headliners will perform at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Friday's headliners include Western New York-born trumpeter Chris Tedesco and vocalist Tony Galla performing "A Night of Hollywood and Jazz." The headliner on Saturday is four-time Grammy nominee Karrin Allyson.

The festival's board of directors emphasized the importance of supporting emerging and student artists as well. Among the other performers are The Rich Thompson and Eastman Faculty/Staff Nonet, Villa Maria College Jazz Ensemble and The SUNY Fredonia Latin Jazz Ensemble.

"We are so excited to not only feature national acts, but also feature student groups from top music colleges and universities," said Carol Calato, chair of the festival's board of directors.

Other attractions at the festival include a classic car show organized by Buffalo Jag, to be held from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday along Center Street. It will feature vintage British and European cars.

There will also be a jewelry show featuring both vintage and contemporary pieces. It will begin at 6 p.m. Friday and remain open during festival hours on both days. The booth will be located on the corner of South Fifth and Center streets.

More than 30 food and wine vendors from local restaurants and wineries along the Niagara Wine Trail will also be on site both days.

"The event has really grown into as much of a culinary festival as it is a jazz festival," Hays-Mies said.

New this year, she added, are donation jars at each of the food and wine stalls. Hays-Mies said the festival costs more than $150,000 to host, and because it is a free event, the only funds come from sponsors and vending fees. She said donations would help to ensure the Jazz Festival can continue to run in the future.

Also new this year are VIP tickets for special seating at the headlining performances. The tickets cost $20. They can be purchased on site as available.

Seating at the concert venues is limited, so visitors are encouraged to bring their own chairs. Free parking is available at Artpark's lower level lot off Fourth Street.

VIP tickets and a full schedule of events are available at www.lewistonjazz.com.


More than 100 sponsors have stepped forward to support the 2014 Lewiston Jazz Festival. Shown are major investors whose combined efforts financially sustain this free festival, which costs organizers more than $150,000 to host. Chris Castellani, owner of Supermarket Liquors and Wines (shown at center on the bongos), has stepped forward as the presenting sponsor.

Others, shown from left, are Carol Calato (board chair), Calato Manufacturing; Tom Burrows, UB Center for the Arts; Village of Lewiston Mayor Terry Collesano; Town of Lewiston Supervisor Dennis Brochey; John Heim, M&T Bank; Kathleen Neville, Niagara Falls Bridge Commission; Jeff Tedesco, Tedesco Construction; and Fran Giles, Modern Corp. Major sponsors not present include Sevenson Environmental Services and Certo Brothers Distributing.

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