Reviving the three-day Jazz at the Lake Festival for this summer after a two-year COVID-related hiatus is quite the undertaking, admitted co-organizer Eric Allison.
To call it a challenge “is putting it mildly,” Allison, added with a chuckle, on Thursday.
But so far, he believes the 20th-anniversary event that’s planned for August is “looking good” with an entertainment lineup that includes jazz pianist Michael Kaeshammer and his Trio, the Calgary Jazz Orchestra Big Band (with special guests Cheryl Fisher and Allison), The Little Brown Jug Brass Band, the Razzamajazz Big Band, Jack Semple, Morgan McKee, Tim Williams, and others.
Jazz music will flow from Aug. 19-21 in Sylvan Lake, with many free events, including a Sunday afternoon finale in at least six different pubs and clubs.
Tickets for the Friday night Swing Dance, the Saturday afternoon “Blues, Bop and BBQ,” and the Saturday evening Kaeshammer show, are now available at www.jazzatthelake.com.
While Allison was thrilled to receive some gifts-in-kind for the festival from the Town of Sylvan Lake, as well as some funding from the non-profit 100 Women Who Care group, he said more sponsorships are very welcome.
The biggest needs are for more volunteers as well as sponsors, said Allison, who encourages any interested individuals and/ or businesses to apply through the festival’s website.
The palpable sense that central Albertans want to be entertained after two pandemic years has been the biggest driver for Allison and his wife, Cheryl Fisher, the festival producer and artistic director, to bring back the annual event that they started in 2003.
“It’s looking good and we’re really excited about it,” said Allison. “People are anxious to get out there and hear live music again.”
Fisher and Allison have not messed with the schedule for the 2022 festival. It brings back the most popular features of past years, including the Friday night swing dance and Saturday evening headline concert.
They are also reviving some previous hits that haven’t been around for a few years — such as the free Jazz for Kids event on Sunday afternoon at the Sylvan Lake library, with Red Deer pianist and composer Morgan McKee.
While some jazz bands that have been a staple of past festivals were unavailable this year, Allison is confident in the diverse line-up of artists and bands that have been booked.