The seventh annual Morristown Jazz & Blues Festival will be held on the Green in Morristown, New Jersey on Saturday, August 19, from noon until 10:00 p.m. This year’s free concert has a Jersey link for four out of the five groups to appear.
The festival begins at noon with the Grammy Award-winning Vince Giordano & the Nighthawks, undoubtedly one of the best known and most popular jazz bands in the country. Performing the music of the Twenties and Thirties, the Nighthawks have appeared in many films including Carol, The Cotton Club, The Aviator, and Finding Forrester. And it was their music and frequent performances on the HBO series Boardwalk Empire that made them an international sensation and provided a close link with the Atlantic City of the Prohibition Era.
At two o’clock, legendary guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli returns to the stage with his quintet featuring his long-time partner Ed Laub on guitar, his number two son Martin Pizzarelli on bass, the young sensation Linus Wyrsch on sax, and Ken Levinsky on piano. Born and raised in Paterson, Bucky may be 91 but he maintains a youthful exuberance and unparalleled virtuosity on his distinctive seven string guitar. Bucky is in the New Jersey Hall of Fame among his many honors.
Then at four, thanks to the law firm of Sherman Wells, the festival is proud to bring back to the stage Louis Prima Jr. and the Witnesses who were a sensation in 2016. The band not only plays the music of his incomparable father, including such hits as “Jump, Jive, an’ Wail,” “Just a Gigolo,” and “Sing Sing Sing,” they very much have their own sound and material. Louis Prima Jr. has close ties to New Jersey as his mother Gia Maione Prima was raised in Toms River and graduated from Toms River High School before embarking on her own singing career.
At six o’clock, the music turns the blues with six-time Blues Music Award nominee Ana Popovic and her band. The California-based guitar-player and singer tours the world and has become a popular performer at blues festivals both here and abroad. She was the only female guitarist invited to be part of the Experience Hendrix Tour, sharing the stage with stars like Buddy Guy, Jonny Lang, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, and Zakk Wilde. And her records routinely reach the top of the Billboard Blues Charts.
The full day of music concludes with The Walter Trout Band led by the critically-acclaimed guitarist. Walter Trout was born and raised in Ocean County, New Jersey before moving to Los Angeles to break into the blues circuit. He quickly earned a reputation backing greats such as John Lee Hooker, Big Mama Thornton, Lowell Fulsom, Percy Mayfield, and Joe Tex.
In 1981, he became lead guitarist for Canned Heat where legendary bluesman John Mayall heard him and invited him to join the Bluesbreakers. Following in that group’s tradition of great guitars, such as Eric Clapton, Peter Green, and Mick Taylor, helped Trout solidify his reputation as a top player. When he finally went out on his own, he became a chart-topping star in Europe.
He is a 3-time winner of the “Overseas Artist of the Year” from the British Blues Awards, a winner of the prestigious Sena European Guitar Award, a 3-time Blues Music Award nominee, a top-ten guitar player in the BBC’s Guitarist Listeners’ Poll, and a winner of two Blues Music Awards in 2016.
The Morristown Jazz & Blues Festival is made possible thanks to Mayor Tim Dougherty and the Town of Morristown. It takes place on the Green in Morristown from noon until 10:00 p.m. Admission is free and many local restaurants offer specials for festival attendees. Bring your lawn chairs and blankets.
For more information, visit www.morristownjazzandblues.org.