The Second Annual ChazzFest Reveals a Mighty Lineup

Charleston City Paper | April 15, 2007
It was quite a scene at the first annual Charleston Music & Heritage Festival -- college-aged music fans, parents and children of all ages, hip local scenesters and hippies, Carolina shaggers, hardcore Al Green fans, and curious tourists collectively milling from one busy corner stage to another under a perfect late-summer sun. The aroma of authentic Lowcountry specialties -- wings, barbecue, dirty rice, and fried seafood -- hung in the air. The groovy sounds of music emanated from across the yards. It was a grand day for over 6,000 attendees. It was a huge relief for the local organizers who put enormous effort into achieving their goal -- to a diverse lineup of great music acts while emphasizing the cultural diversity of coastal Carolina.

"You know, I think when people first heard of ChazzFest last year, when we said 'Chazz-Fest,' some probably heard 'Jazz-Fest' and assumed it was mostly a jazz music festival," remembers co-organizer Riddick Lynch, of Shoreline Productions. "But it really is about as diverse a mix of music as one could find at any festival. Certainly, the New Orleans Jazz Fest and events like Bonnaroo have changed a lot over the years and gone way beyond their initial style."

Lynch and Rick Jones, of Fish Bait Marketing, headed up a up local team of promoters and production experts to assemble ChazzFest 2006, which featured musical performances from Al Green, Buddy Guy, Karl Denson, Sam Bush, The Drive-By Truckers, Cary Ann Hearst, and other notable artists. The event was presented by main sponsor Digital Lifestyle Outfiters (

"I think one of the things that surprised people last year was that ChazzFest wasn't just a bunch of cool jam bands and it wasn't simply a list of jazz acts," says Lynch. "We brought in an eclectic mix of genres. This year, I think we're presenting an even deeper and broader pool of talent. We've added a couple of genres that we didn't have last year -- reggae and gospel -- partly out of a more concerted effort to reach out to the local African-American community. We're broadening the scope with an eclectic mix with the idea of presenting something for everyone -- young, old, black, white, and everything inbetween."

Once again, the festival events are arranged in and around the Family Circle Tennis Center facilities on Daniel Island. On Tues. March 20, they announced an impressive official lineup of bands: jazz sax great Branford Marsalis, veteran R&B group Kool & The Gang, Galactic, reggae band Toots & The Maytals, rock quintet Son Volt, gospel singer Dottie Peoples, swamp/groove combo JJ Grey & Mofro, bluegrass troupe Seldom Scene, acoustic horn 'n' drum ensemble Soul Rebels Brass Band, and "sacred pedal steel" group The Lee Boys. Classic beach music faves Chairmen of the Board and The Embers are included. Four popular local acts are set to play as well -- groove-rock band Uncle Mingo, soul/R&B combo Quiana Parler & Friends, traditional vocal group Magnolia Singers, and blues guitarist Davis Coen.

Sax player Branford Marsalis is a Grammy award-winning New Orleans treasure -- and one the most respected players in the contemporary jazz world. Since making his first splash alongside brother Wynton in the early 1980s, he’s dabbled in pop and rock music, funk, and classical styles -- from touring with Sting and Widespread Panic to playing solo reinterpretations of Copland concertos and Stravinsky suites.

Kool & The Gang performed in town at the Charleston Harbor Resort & Marina for the big fireworks celebration during the opening events for the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge in July 2005. Bassist Robert "Kool" Bell, sax players Ronald Bell and Dennis "DT" Thomas, trumpeter Robert "Spike" Michens, and drummer George Brown started out as a jazz-fusion band in the mid-60s. They are best known for their disco hits "Ladies Night," "Celebration," and "Get Down On It," as well as the Top 40 pop hits "Fresh," "Joanna," and "Cherish."

"We wanted to have a new set of acts this year," says Lynch. "It's an all-new lineup, with the exception of the Soul Rebels. We got so much great feedback on them, and they are still relatively unknown outside of New Orleans that we decided to have them back. Dottie Peoples is a name that some folks might be familiar with -- she's a major gospel act and a member of the gospel hall of fame.

"Branford Marsalis and Kool & The Gang are coheadlining," he adds. "They'll close things at the stadium stage with Branford playing his set followed by Kool & The Gang, which makes for a great, fun, party vibe and a perfect cap for the day."

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Founded in 1997, the locally owned and operated City Paper is Charleston's only weekly alternative newspaper and the second-largest publication in the metro Charleston area. Reaching a strong mix of active, affluent locals and tourists, the City Paper has thrived...
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