By Madeline Sturgeon, Intern for Williamson Herald
Live talent, live art, and an enchanted crowd of music fans will fill The Factory at Franklin over Labor Day Weekend at the 24th Annual Franklin Jazz Festival.
Festival attendees will have the chance to see accomplished jazz artists grace the main stage each evening, located in Liberty Hall.
Four-time Grammy winner and 19-time Grammy nominee Larry Carlton will headline on Saturday, Aug. 31 at 9 p.m. Sunday night’s headliner is Cissy Crutcher, one of the most requested performers the festival has ever had over the years. Crutcher will perform at 8:30 p.m.
The festival helps to raise money and awareness for the nonprofit organization, the Williamson County Cultural Arts Commission. Local artists supported by the WCCAC will display and sell art in the Heritage Room adjoining Liberty Hall. Live art demonstrations have occurred in past years.
"Most of the people that love jazz and love the blues, also love art,” said Scott Ducaj, the director of the Franklin Jazz Festival. “It seemed like a natural pairing from the start because probably a lot of those artists, if they weren’t sitting there showing their art, would still be attending the jazz festival.”
Half-hour breaks in between acts will give festivalgoers a chance to purchase coffee, alcoholic beverages, funnel cakes, smoothies and a variety of other goods from food vendors. This year, Jamison Hall will be free and open to the public, with craft vendors and sponsor booths available and community jazz and blues groups performing.
Jamison Hall has recently undergone acoustic work, which will improve the quality of sound inside the hall.
After enjoying everything that the vendors have to offer, attendees will be able to step out into the parking lot and watch a fireworks show take place across the street from the festival on Saturday night before Larry Carlton performs.
Ducaj has been organizing festivals in Franklin for 15 years. As a veteran trumpet player who has performed on the road with musicians such Boots Randolph, Wayne Newton and recently Kenny Chesney, Ducaj is familiar with every band hired and has a good eye for acts that will really shine at the event.
“One of the things that helps in what I do is that I’m hiring people who do the same thing I do,” said Ducaj. “It’s kind of easy for me to see sometimes, what’s good and what isn’t.”
In choosing acts to fill the festival’s schedule, Ducaj often takes advantage of social media. Rather than using the polished videos of acts sent to him, he seeks out amateur videos on YouTube.
“It really shows me how a group is going to perform in a situation, especially if it’s an unfavorable situation, where the PA may not be working great, or the crowd’s not into what they’re doing, or it’s just outside and it’s hot and they’re miserable,” Ducaj said. “If I can see them in situations like that and they’re putting on a good show and they’ve got a good attitude, usually I know that’s someone we want to hire.”
The positive vibe of the festival makes artists who have played at the event ask to return year after year.
“We’ve got a long line of folks that apply for the festival that have done it before that want to come back, that know it’s an enjoyable experience. The Franklin crowds are respectful, they like good music, they’re plentiful, and they’re appreciative. They’re a great crowd to play for.”
The festival will showcase 13 different groups over the course of the weekend. Rickey Godfrey will open up the festival at 5:45 p.m. on Saturday in Liberty Hall. Godfrey is a guitar player and singer whose musical training started at the age of 7 while he attended the South Carolina School for the Blind.
“He’s just an incredible talent,” said Ducaj.
Cumberland Blue, a blues group comprised of kids aged 13-17, will perform as well.
“It’s a rockin’ group,” said Ducaj. “They have a good time on stage.”
Ducaj believes that with the involvement of so many talented people, the festival is sure to be a success.
"My hope is that everybody has a great time, and hears and plays great music. That’s the whole deal,” said Ducaj.
“And gets home safe,” he adds with a laugh.
For tickets and more information, visit www.FranklinJazzFestival.com.
Posted on: 8/22/2013