Downtown Tacoma has your Memorial Day weekend covered with its ever-cool Tacoma Jazz and Blues Festival. The entire event is free - free parking, free music, free for all. On May 26, be prepared to enjoy hopping music all day long.
This T-town jazz and blues extravaganza features three stages: the Blues Stage at The Harmon Pub & Brewery at 1938 Pacific Avenue; the Big Band Stage in the Rainier Room at Freighthouse Square at 2501 East D Street; and the Evening Stage a bit farther afoot at Stonegate Pizza at 5421 South Tacoma Way.
The Blues Stage and Big Band Stage have acts on from noon to 6 p.m., while the Evening Stage goes from 8 to 11 p.m.
Several bands are festival repeat offenders, including the Johnny Lewis Big Band. This year has plenty of new jives to enjoy, too, namely The Wired! Band, winner of the Memphis Blues Challenge, and Rich Wetzel's Groovin' Higher Orchestra - headed up by none other than CEO and founder of the Tacoma Jazz and Blues Festival, Rich Wetzel himself.
What's he looking forward to?
"Wired! at The Harmon and the all-ages blues jam at Stonegate," says Wetzel. "And some great new tunes with my band for the after party."
Food is also a major player at the festival since all of the venues feature great menus or restaurants. Unfortunately for all, the food is not free, but it is plentiful. Both the Harmon and Stonegate have full food and drink menus, and Freighthouse has a food court full of options, and even a few sit-down restaurants. A beer garden will be set up in the Rainier Room at Freighthouse.
Now that downtown Tacoma has jumped onto the paid-parking bandwagon, an extra perk of this festival is that free parking is available in the Freighthouse Square lots as well as in the Tacoma Dome parking garages. From there, you can walk between the Freighthouse and Harmon stages, or ride the Link lightrail, which is also free.
Free transportation is not available to the Stonegate, but there is still plenty of free parking there for the evening party.
The festival is open to all ages in most areas. The beer garden at Freighthouse and upstairs during the after party at Stonegate are 21 and older events.