Despite temperatures that barely found the 60s and overcast skies threatening drizzle, the seventh annual Highland Jazz+ Blues Festival attracted a crowd estimated at 6,000 on Nov. 13. More than 50 vendors serving everything from Indian curry dishes to turkey legs saw long lines and the two art/food areas did a bustling business throughout the afternoon.
“Even though there was a threat of rain and conditions were not ideal, our vendors had a good day and the crowd enjoyed the free five hours of music," says HJ+B chairman Kenney Koonce. "Unlike in years past when the crowds grew throughout the afternoon, this year, the crowd started strong and stayed strong." "Part of that had to do with the placement of the musicians," says HJ+B creative director Amy Loe. "It was set up this year so that if you came late, you missed some top quality music. we saw people coming in early to stake out prime spots for Robin and the Bluebirds, Buddy Flett, AJ and the Two Tone Blues Band and others." Those jazz and blues music fans stayed for the headliner, The Gourds, out of Austin, Tex.
The Gourds are not known as a jazz and blues group and their sound is hard to pin down. It is called by many as simply "the gourd sound' and incorporates a little of several different musical styles and includes instruments not usually associated with jazz, the mandolin and banjo. "The Gourds brought a younger and very energetic crowd to the afternoon event,' says Loe. "I think we saw a lot more college-aged patrons for the headliner than we have in years past. Our traditional jazz and blues customers loved the sound, too, so the crowd was a great mix." Three of the Gourds members are from Shreveport, which gave the band a real feeling of homecoming.
"It's over, we're thrilled with the outcome and we've had a good night's sleep," says Koonce. "Now, the planning begins for 2011. As always, we are seeking sponsors, donations, volunteers and people who want to work to improve the festival and our Highland neighborhood." People interested in contacting us can do so by going to: www.highlandjazzandblues.com
The Highland Jazz + Blues Festival sponsors for 2010 include presenting sponsor MetroPCS, Southwestern Electric Power Company, the Community Foundation, the city of Shreveport, Parish of Caddo, Louisiana Department of Culture and Tourism SPAR, Red River Radio, Shreveport Regional Arts Council, River Cities Cycles and Fitness, and the Shreveport Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau.