- photo by Bob Doran
- Robert Dehlinger of Stompy Jones
In Humboldt County, May is kinetic, October is green and March is jazzy. Check your calendar. The Redwood Coast Jazz Festival is back for its 21st installment from March 24-27, showcasing some of the finest touring, danceable jazz bands, trad and otherwise -- along with some blues, zydeco and swing thrown in for good measure. And no reggae, HumCo. Weird, I know.
More than 20 different musical ensembles play more than 80 separate sets of music at five venues: the Adorni Center, Eureka Theater, the Eureka Municipal Auditorium, the Red Lion Hotel and the Arkley Center for the Performing Arts. We'll hit some of the highlights:
To endure the weekend you're going to need your strength. Start filling your jazzhole on Thursday at A Taste of Main Street starting at 5 p.m. Over 20 of Eureka's finest dining establishments invite you to get your grub on in Old Town and beyond. But don't over do it. You want to be light on your feet for the Jazz Fest Kick-Off Dance at the Adorni Center at 7 p.m. with music by fest fave Stompy Jones.
Friday features the festival's first full day of jazziness and is full of freebies. Opening Ceremonies -- free to as many people as there are seats -- commence at the Arkley Center at 1:30 p.m. with the Titan Hot Seven and Wally's Warehouse Waifs. The Arkley will also feature Friday night's (also free) performance by The Commanders, a U.S. Air Force Ensemble from Travis Air Force Base.
Saturday is the main event with over 40 sets of music scheduled. Begin your day early with dance lessons at either the Adorni Center or the Muni at 9 a.m. Those skills will come in handy throughout the day, for sure, but especially at the dance contests that take place at the Muni between 1 and 4 p.m. and at the Saturday Night Dance Show also at the Muni at 5:30 p.m., a highlight of the weekend which, this year, features the swingin' Stompy Jones, Titan Hot Seven and Stolen Sweets and lasts deep into the night.
But just because you danced your keister off the night before doesn't mean you don't have to honor the Sabbath. Sunday Morning Jazz Hymnal Services start at 9 a.m. at the First United Methodist Church in Eureka, as well as at the Adorni Center (both for free) and the Arkley Center. The final day of the festival officially wraps up with the Grand Finale at the Muni at 3 p.m., but make sure to check out the Official After Party at the freshly reopened Palm Lounge at the Eureka Inn at 6 p.m. Then collapse.
Now we know the $85 All Event Ticket price might seem as daunting as the idea of dancing for three or four days straight. But there are deals to be had. Most impressive of the deals is the $10 All Day Pass to see the lineup at just the Eureka Theater on either Friday or Sunday. Friday Only Tickets will run you $35, All Day Saturday Only Tickets are $50; Sunday Only Tickets go for $25. Another great offer is the $25 Saturday Night Special, which gets you into any venue after 5 p.m. including the big dance show at the Muni. For complete bios on all the festival's performers and other info about the event, check out www.redwoodjazz.org.