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Jazz at the Lake Festival will be back in full swing

Sylvan Lake event will run Aug. 17-20
Trumpet player Jon Faddis will perform at Jazz at the Lake this summer. (Photo sumbitted).

The four-day Jazz at the Lake Festival will be back in Sylvan Lake this summer, celebrating its 15th anniversary.

The event that’s run in a different format for the past two years is returning with “a full schedule line-up” from Aug. 17-20.

Headliners will include acclaimed New York trumpeter Jon Faddis performing a tribute to his mentor, the late Dizzy Gillespie on what would have been his 100th birthday on Friday night, Aug. 18. (Faddis will also run a brass clinic for local musicians before the show).

Sylvan Lake-based jazz singer Cheryl Fisher will croon jazz standards from her Global Music award-winning album, Quietly There, as well as some originals on Saturday, Aug. 19.

Juno Award-winning guitarist Jack Semple will play at a Blues Bash with his band on Thursday, Aug. 17, while Global Music Award-winning entertainer Johnny Summers and his Little Big Band will entertain at a Sunday, Aug. 20, afternoon swing dance.

Also on the bill are The Polyjesters, Jazz Plus Trio, the H.O.T. Dixieland Jazz Band, the Red Deer College Big Band, Jazz Explosion, and more bands yet to be announced.

The festival that started in 2003 took a different turn in 2015 and 2016, running as a four-concert series throughout the year instead of one four-day event. But co-organizer Eric Allison said fans were starting to clamour for the extended summer event to be brought back.

“People were telling us, ‘We like the concert series, but that festival week is such a big happening.’ It was even attracting folks that weren’t just jazz fans. It was a total scene, all weekend long.”

Allison and his wife and festival co-organizer, Cheryl Fisher, are “excited” to be planning the four-day festival again — especially with Faddis as the featured performer.

Allison initially thought the protégé of Dizzy Gillespie’s would be too busy to fit Jazz at the Lake into his summer schedule. Then he discovered that Faddis would be wrapping up a vacation in B.C. just before the festival starts, so the synchronicity worked out great, said Allison, who noted this will be the first time the festival will feature a trumpet player.

“We’re really pumped about it.”

Signing the renowned Faddis as a headliner is part of the reason the festival is returning to its usual format. Another reason is that organizers discovered putting on four smaller shows was actually more work in some ways than putting on an annual festival.

“We’re re-energized, now” Allison added, with a chuckle, noting more volunteers and continued strong community support have “refreshed” Jazz at the Lake.

For more information about the lineup, please visit

Lana Michelin

About the Author: Lana Michelin

Lana Michelin has been a reporter for the Red Deer Advocate since moving to the city in 1991.
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