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Annapolis Hosts A Jazz And Roots Festival In Early November 2023

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Maryland's centuries old capital hosts a world of music in the second year of the Annapolis Jazz & Roots Festival. On two weekends from November 3rd, 2023, the historic port will come alive with music from many countries and cultures performed by international and regional artists. Some events require admission; others are free. They are held at four sites in Eastport, the Maritime heart and soul of Annapolis.

With sweeping views of the Chesapeake Bay, Eastport has a fun, laid-back atmosphere. Charming homes are nestled alongside boatyards and sailing schools. The neighborhood has many inviting restaurants, and on weekends, both tourists and “townies” can be seen walking across the Spa Creek Bridge, passing the U.S. Naval Academy en route to and from downtown Annapolis.

Deep Roots

Maryland’s capital city was without a jazz festival for decades—until now! Once a jazz and rhythm & blues stronghold, the area boasted concerts at Carr’s and Sparrow’s beaches; the King of France Tavern was a nationally prominent venue; and St. John’s College was home to the Annapolis Jazz Festival (iconic guitarist Charlie Byrd served as artistic director until 1996).

In 2020, business and cultural leaders decided to reinstitute a festival dedicated to jazz. Having produced numerous festivals and concerts throughout Maryland, arts promoter Paulina Phillips was named executive director. An advisory board was formed and the new festival took shape with a widened scope, matching cultural diversity with artistic excellence to serve a broader audience. A veritable army of volunteers stepped forward to launch the festival last year.

Weekend one: November 3-5, 2023

The 2023 festival kicks off on November 3 with Halley’s Hot Gumbo Swingtet at a hip location: the historic Peerless Rens Club in Eastport—a great spot for listening and dancing! A dynamic presence in and around the nation’s capital, Halley Shoenberg is in demand performing and recording with numerous ensembles on clarinet, saxophone and flute. She’s led concerts at Blues Alley and Strathmore, appeared at Carlyle Club and The Kennedy Center and entertained huge crowds of swing dancers at Glen Echo, Mobtown Ballroom and Potomac River Jazz Club events. Her numerous U.S. festival appearances include dates in the French Quarter of New Orleans, and she’s ready to bring that awesome vibe to Annapolis for opening night. Shows are at 6:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. Admission is $25.

Two entertaining and educational free events will be held at Eastport-Annapolis Neck Library. The first is on Saturday, November 4 at 11:00 a.m. Nyame Nti will perform traditional West African drumming. (Such rhythms are considered foundational elements in American jazz.) Listeners will hear traditional rhythms such as Kou Kou, Jondon Wolosodon, Balanta, and Kakilambé and begin to understand their cultural and historical significance.

Grammy-nominated lutenist Ronn McFarlane returns to Annapolis on Sunday, November 5 at 4:00 p.m. performing music of the British Isles with Ayreheart and guest vocalist Heather Aubrey Lloyd. McFarlane founded Ayreheart to bring the lute (the most popular instrument of the Renaissance), into the twenty-first century. The musicians combine traditional roots music with modern compositions in a festive program. Fans will find the Eastport United Methodist Church to be a beautiful and welcoming venue.

Weekend Two: November 10-12, 2023

Prepare to be dazzled by a trio of virtuosos on Friday November 10 at 7:00 p.m. when international stars of Melodic Intersect perform at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. Tabla player Enayet Hossain, keyboardist Greg Hatza and sitar player Hidayat Husain Khan will fuse classical Indian music with American jazz, as they have on their high charting albums. Sitarist Khan crosses many genres, collaborating with such artists as the Rolling Stones, Alicia Keys, Usher, Zakir Hussain and Jay Z. All trio members perform classical Indian music on many continents. Their fusion group, Melodic Intersect, has appeared in the U.S. at Lincoln Center in NYC, Plymouth Playhouse in Minnesota, for the Arts Council of Princeton, New Jersey and in Maryland for the Howard County Arts Council and An die Musik Live!

On Saturday, November 11 at 11:00 a.m. Maryland State Archivist, actor and writer Chris Haley will give a presentation on Indentured Servitude and Slavery from implementation for early settlers in the 1600s to the abolition of slavery with the passage of Maryland’s 1864 state constitution. Hear the remarkable story of Mathias de Sousa. One of the original settlers to arrive aboard the Arc and the Dove in the 1600s, he rose from indentured servitude to become a member of the Maryland General Assembly. Haley will also address how slavery and indentured servitude affected the life and legacy of famous Marylander Benjamin Banneker. This is the second festival event being held at Eastport-Annapolis Neck Library.

At 4:00 p.m. on November 11 a Veteran’s Day Concert will feature one of the hottest jazz singers to emerge in recent years. Hazel Mitchell-Bell has sold out show after show in the Mid-Atlantic, playing every major club in the region, including frequent dates at the famed Blues Alley in Georgetown. Her band will welcome a special guest from Anne Arundel County: Annie Award-winning saxophonist Terry S. Koger. Mitchell-Bell’s blend of jazz, R&B, and show tunes is featured on two highly praised albums and each passing year takes her to more distant points in the U.S. and abroad. She’ll return from a South American tour just in time to appear at Eastport United Methodist Church for the Annapolis Jazz & Roots Festival. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door. Veterans will be admitted free.

The festival concludes Sunday, November 12 with some of the most enticing music on the planet in a program entitled “Bossa Nova and Beyond.” The show takes place at 4:00 p.m. at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. Amoroso features Annapolitans Dick Rausch on guitar/vocals and vocalist Elizabeth Melvin. They’ll be joined by world traveled pianist and educator Harry Appelman and two special guests: Brazilian brothers Leonardo Lucini (bass) and Bruno Lucini (percussion). Based in New York, Leonardo is a revered educator, performer and recording artist. The Lucini brothers have played a leading role in popularizing Brazilian music in the nation’s capital and beyond. Listeners will enjoy enchanting melodies, sweet harmonies and captivating rhythms in a varietal program of pop, jazz and bossa nova tunes.

Festival Sponsors

Annapolis Jazz & Roots is an affiliate, operating under the umbrella of the Annapolis Community Foundation. The organization is grateful for support from the Arts Council of Anne Arundel County, Maryland State Arts Council, Visit Annapolis & Anne Arundel County and Visit Maryland and Anne Arundel County Public Library & Foundation. Venue and presenting partners Alkebulan and Jazz Beyond Borders are major in-kind contributors along with All About Jazz and Jazz Near You. Business sponsors include Palate Pleasers, Colony Liquor Mart of Edgewater and Irish Restaurant Company, comprised of Galway Bay in Annapolis, Killarney House in Davidsonville, Brian Boru in Pasadena and Pirate’s Cove in Galesville.

Reservations are required for all events. Visit the Annapolis Jazz & Roots website for tickets and information about artists, music and venues.

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