The 4th annual Camarillo Art & Jazz Festival took place Aug 4-6 in Camarillo, CA and was held in beautiful locations in this nice city one hour north of Los Angeles. I wasn't able to attend the concert by David Sanborn Friday evening but caught The Rippingtons, featuring Russ Freeman, Saturday night. This free concert was held in Constitution Park, a public park in the center of Camarillo with people sitting on the grass in their chairs and on their blankets, creating a nice festival atmosphere. The evening was opened by the band that won the "Battle Of The Bands" contest (sorry, didn't catch their name) providing some nice smooth jazz before the Rippingtons entered the stage. The band is celebrating its 20th anniversary. The lineup consisted of leader Russ Freeman (guitar), Bill Heller (keys), Kim Stone (bass), Steve Reid (percussion), Dave Karasony (drums) and most notably Jeff Kashiwa on saxophone who reunited with the band after having split for a very successful solo career. They provided a great evening with songs from their vast catalog old and new, with Russ Freeman running the gamut from pretty acoustic melodies to hot solos on electric guitar, supported by this great band, most notably by Jeff Kashiwa who is always an energetic and fun part of the show. The band proved that they are still going strong and haven't lost any of their appeal, with some great songs from the current release 20th Anniversary showing that they still know how to stay on top of the scene.
The highlight for me was the concert of Rick Braun on Sunday afternoon, held at the Camarillo Ranch House, a beautiful location in a historic park with big, old trees and a nice lawn. I got us some VIP tickets which included a "meet and greet" reception with the artists, a catered lunch and great seats right in front of the stage. The atmosphere was relaxed and all those nice helpful volunteers made the whole event even more enjoyable. Rick Braun came with an all-star band featuring Rayford Griffin (drums), Randy Jacobs (guitar), Jimmy Roberts (sax), Stanley Sargeant (bass) and most remarkably Greg Karukas on keyboards. The band was in fine form and they seemed to enjoy the event having the whole afternoon for themselves. Rick Braun played many of his familiar songs like "Notorious", "Emma's Song", "Use Me" (with great audience participation), "Kisses In The Rain" and others. He even sang a nice version of "My Funny Valentine" showing another side of his talent. In the second half of the show Rick and sax player Jimmy Roberts did their stroll around the audience which was well received, I noticed laughing and happy faces all around me! At the end of the concert they had the crowd on their feet bringing a truly great concert with a smooth jazz version of "Mustang Sally" to a rousing end.
The Camarillo Art & Jazz Festival is an outstanding festival. The crowd is pleasant, the whole event is not too crowded, the locations are beautiful and the people running the festival are friendly and welcoming, and the selection of artists is world-class.