Thank you for coming out to the 2017 Jazz & Roots Festival!

Reflections from Kristin Neville, Festival Co-Founder

In it’s fourth year, the festival once again connected several thousand people through the joy of music, right in the heart of downtown Springfield. The festival strives to embrace and provide a platform for creative exploration, thoughtful conversation, and community engaging experiences– that lift up the city, bring diverse people together, and amplify the good work being done by people and organizations in the Springfield community. The 2017 festival featured an array of younger, and forward leaning jazz artists–musicians to watch, who are evolving as individual artists, and also shaping the world around them– such as Miles Mosley, Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, Springfield native Sarah Elizabeth Charles, Zaccai Curtis, Natalie Fernandez, and Lizz Wright.

New this year, we held a Friday night Kick Off event called Jazz & Justice, featuring a performance by the First Generation theater ensemble, an intergenerational conversation with Sarah Elizabeth Charles, trumpeter Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, and jazz icon Charles Neville, and a performance by Christian and Sarah which followed the conversation.

The 2017 Festival was launched with a Second Line parade led by Springfield students who had participated in the New Orleans Brass Band Camp (a collaboration of Blues to Green and the Community Music School of Springfield), in the days leading up to the festival. The camp immersed young Springfield musicians in the spirit and sound of New Orleans street music.

We added a Second Stage this year, the Urban Roots Stage, which came alive with the infectious rhythms and swinging grooves of local and regional talent including Salsa Train Orchestra, Henri Smith and Flavours of New Orleans, the sounds of Mitch Chakour, bomba y plena dance with Bomba de Aqui, and more!

As the first year of our Urban Roots Initiative, we showed our commitment to promoting sustainability through easily accessible recycling and composting options, a bike-taxi program, and the beginning of an active partnership between local growers and food producers and our food vendors.

Through Jazz and Hoops we celebrated the history of Springfield as the birthplace of basketball by offering clinics and basketball activities with Springfield native and NBA star Travis Best and UCONN alumna and Olympic gold medalist Kara Wolters.

Kristin Neville

Op-Ed for Mass Live from Co-Founder, Evan Plotkin

I can’t help but reflect on two events that occurred on this past August 12th that provided a Powerful contrast of good and evil that has descended upon our collective consciousness and cause us to pause.

At about 3PM last Saturday I looked out from the stage of the Springfield Jazz and Roots Festival and saw thousands of people of every race, creed and color dancing and rejoicing to live Jazz music. At the same time, I first learned of the shameful violence that was taking place in Charlottesville, Va.

I looked up at the bright sun that was shining down on this diverse and joyous crowd and couldn’t help but wonder if that was the same sun that was shining on the almost all white male protesters spewing hatred against Jews and Blacks and anyone else who didn’t look or act like them in Charlottesville. Perhaps there was a lunar eclipse passing that way or some other unexplained darkness down there. The bright sun over Springfield cast its warm light upon thousands of people from this community and beyond, all of whom were celebrating with intense positivity and love for the music and towards one another, while at the same time a detestable and vulgar display of the worst in America was taking place, seemingly in our shadow.

The Springfield Jazz and Roots festival blurs the boundaries of race and ethnicity because the music unites us as one humanity. Music is a universal language that instills fellowship and love and brings the best out of people. It provides a forum to celebrate our uniqueness and our similarities in peaceful communion with one another; The Springfield Jazz & Roots Festival showed us that.

Are we a nation of hateful people that is increasing divided politically, economically and ethnically? The violence in Charlottesville, VA showed us that.

We can only hope that the beautiful light that we shared together in Springfield on August 12th can be a beacon to show us the way, and to shine down onto the darkest corners of the human heart, bright enough so that the angry people that marched with torches and chanted Nazi slogans on that same day may someday SEE the light. For humanity’s sake, I hope so…

I am thankful for the Springfield community and the outpouring and appreciation that we received during and after the Jazz and roots Festival. I wholeheartedly believe that this is one of the great celebrations that Springfield has to offer.

The Beautiful Court Square is in a tiny little corner of the world and on August 12th our community there demonstrated in a most powerful way the joyous healing of music and its place in the world to promote peace and harmony.

Evan C Plotkin