Annual Festival Features Schedule of New Performers
Whether new to the event or a faithful fan, the 36th annual Jazz in June is going to be a treat, with a full slate of acts that have never performed at the festival before, said Eric Walschap, festival committee chairman.
“The festival headliner is Funky Knuckles, a seven-piece jazz orchestra ‘super group’ composed of members from some of the most well-known names in the music industry, such as Marcus Miller, Stanley Clarke, Erykah Badu, P. Diddy, Snarky Puppy, The Polyphonic Spree and more,” Walschap said.
The festival runs for three nights, beginning June 20 with Blues Under the Stars at Brookhaven Village, on the corner of W Robinson Street and 36th Avenue NW. The festival continues June 21 with Jazz Under the Stars at Brookhaven Village. The music wraps up with Jazz in the Park on Saturday night, June 22 in Andrews Park, 201 W Daws St. Brookhaven performances run from 7:30 to 11 p.m. and the Andrews Park show runs from 6:30 to 11 p.m.
“While none of the groups are returning to Jazz in June, there are two local groups performing that many Oklahomans will know,” Walschap said.
The festivities will kick-off Thursday with the weekend’s first headliner Josh Hoyer & his Soul Colossal, an award-winning five-piece Blues group.
“Josh Hoyer was featured multiple times on NBC’s The Voice, and we know the audiences will understand why the moment he takes the stage,” Walschap said.
Opening up on Friday night is the saxophonist Jared Cathey and his combo. Although young, he’s already a legend in the OKC Jazz Scene and has played with some of the biggest names in the industry, including the Count Basie Orchestra, Kenny Garrett, Donny McCaslin, and so many more.
Jonathan Scales, who – according to Walschap – is “arguably the best jazz steel pannist in the world,” will be Friday’s featured performer.
Festival headliner Funky Knuckles will play on Saturday, along with local favorite BRD, featuring Brian Belanus on guitar, Rei Wang-Bowen on bass, and David Bowen on drums.
Jazz in June began as a small concert in 1984 and has gone through a number of transformations over the years.
In 1985, the festival was held indoors at Sooner Theatre, and in later years the festival saw creative elements added such as an evening dinner and performance at Trujillo’s, an evening trolley bus to local jazz clubs, and even a dance at Sooner Mall.
When the festival moved to Andrews Park in 1986 and Brookhaven Village in 1987, it began to gain in popularity, Walschap said. With larger stages and more room, the festival saw crowds grow to more than 10,000 people.
“For several years, the festival has attracted more than 50,000 people over the three nights, making it the largest nonprofit jazz festival in the region,” Walschap said.
Today, Jazz in June is partners with the Norman Arts Council, the Cimarron Circuit Opera Company and KGOU. The festival is free to attend and almost entirely volunteer run and that includes the organization’s board of directors. Helpers include music fraternities from the University of Oklahoma and members of the community who enjoy music and want to donate their time, Walschap said.
“Not only are all of the event’s board members volunteers and donors of the event, but we couldn’t make it work without the help from dozens of other volunteers that help us both behind and on the stage, at our t-shirt booth, at our clinics, and in countless other ways,” Walschap said. “This is their festival and it’s amazing to see the turnout each year from those that help keep it going strong.”
For more information about Jazz in June, visit www.jazzinjune.org. – BSM