Wine and jazz fest

Sound Check: Raise your glass for summer concerts in the grass.

By Angela Jossy on March 6, 2008

Saturday, March 8, the Tacoma Wine and Jazz Festival will celebrate what looks like a victory. It finally looks like Ted Brown’s dream will come true. For the past several years Brown (no relation to the music store by the same name) has been lobbying and fund-raising to build an outdoor concert stage in Old Town Park, at the base of North 30th Street in Tacoma.

According to Brown, architects and engineers are working on the details of the project now. The new performance stage will match the small historic cabin that houses the Job Carr Museum in the park. To learn more about the museum that commemorates one of Tacoma’s founding fathers visit

The construction plans also include a new irrigation and draining system for the park, which Brown says was never properly set up. He says the construction should be completed in time for a concert series in the summer of 2009.

“I had bands lined up for this summer,” says Brown, “but we found out it wouldn’t be ready in time.”

Fund-raising efforts have been just as much fun as his future plans. For the past five years he and other members of the Old Town Business District have hosted the Wine and Jazz Festival (a benefit for the project) at the Slavonian Hall — a close neighbor to the park. An artist’s rendition of the stage they plan to build will be on display Saturday at the event.

Not the same old jazz

Brown says that last year they moved away from straight-ahead jazz and more into the contemporary and smooth jazz category. The shift went over really well with the audiences, bringing them to the dance floor and cheering for more. This year organizers plan to keep that momentum.

This year the festival will feature a crowd favorite from last year: flutist Bradley Leighton, whose funk-infused jazz lends sex appeal to the flute that may change people’s ideas about the instrument all together. Though the flutist is flying in from his home in San Diego, he has a beloved history with the Pacific Northwest. He was a member of the Army’s 9th Infantry Division band at Fort Lewis, and after a stint overseas with the 8th Army band in Seoul, Korea, where he ended up working as a music teacher for a few years after he was discharged, he lived in Seattle performing and teaching jazz. Brown says that excitement is building over the all-star band that pianist Mike Jopp is putting together to perform with Leighton at the festival. He also let it slip that as a surprise Leighton will be giving away free copies of his latest CD at the festival. 

Co-headlining the festival is Olympia’s 7 on 7, a seven-piece jazz band, who will perform their energetic swing and jump style jazz. 

Local focus

This year the festival will focus more on Washington wines including Covey Run, Desert Wind, Houge, Red Diamond, Snoqualmie, and specialty wines by Tacoma’s own Vino Aquino.

In addition to admission to the event, the ticket price ($25) includes two wine taste tickets and a commemorative Tacoma Wine and Jazz Festival glass.

As if the libations and entertainment weren’t enough, there also will be live and silent auctions with items such as gift baskets, restaurant gift certificates for the Lobster Shop and Stanley and Seafort’s, paintings, wine racks, bottles of wine, jewelry from Sarda Handcrafted Creations, overnight stays at the Silver Cloud Inn on Tacoma’s waterfront, and a trip to Australia.

Various art pieces and jewelry from Sarda Handcrafted Creations will be available for sale as well. Complimentary hors d’oeuvres will be served.

[Slavonian Hall, Tacoma Wine and Jazz Festival, Saturday, March 8, 5-11 p.m., $25, 2306 N. 30th St., Old Town Tacoma, 253.759.2518]

My name is Angie and I’m just a shot away — If you can’t rock me, somebody will.