Cape May Jazz Festival, November 6-8, 2008
There was much discussion and celebration at this year's festival about Barack Obama victory in the presidential race a few nights earlier. His win, Pamela Williams said between songs in her Grand Hotel performance, shows that "beneath the surface, we're all the same." Her set included a lovely instrumental update of the Burt Bacharach hit "Alfie."
Other weekend performers include percussionist Chembo Corniel's Latin Band, singer Antoinette Montague, blues singer-guitarist David Cole and a full Saturday afternoon of jazz and blues jams at the two Carney's rooms and Cabana's that featured a rotating blend of more than three-dozen players.
Cape May finds itself in a rebuilding mode, with a focused effort to draw younger audiences and musicians, a challenge complicated by the economy. Carol Stone, the festival's artistic director and co-founder, says the event, which peaked with 8,400 attendees five years ago, saw attendance drop this year to just over 5,000.
"The economy is terrible," Stone said. "All arts organizations' attendance is hurting big time. Most of our people come from out of town, which means they come for the weekend, and many have told me they cannot afford to come at this time. Our population is aging so we are incorporating more music to attract a younger audience. It is gradually happening but it will take time."