Written by The Jazz Gypsy
Berks Jazz Festival
March 28 � April 6, 2008
I am not impartial when it comes to my preferences for jazz festivals. Some are good, some are better and some are best. To make my top 5 list, a jazz festival has to be pretty awesome. The Berks Jazz Festival in Reading, PA, is not only on my top 5 list but it�s #1.
For those of you who�ve never attended Berks, you�re probably scratching your head and asking:
Berks�.what is that? Reading�.where is that? No. 1�..how can something I�ve never attended rank so highly?
Remember when former President Bill Clinton said, �It�s about the economy, stupid!� Well to smooth jazz fans, I�d say, �It�s about the music, smarty!� And, this is what Berks delivers: music, music and more music.
The Berks Jazz Fest began in 1991 with about a dozen events. Since 2000, this 10-day festival has become a world-class event, featuring more than 130 shows. Many of the artists that will be on tour during 2008 will appear FIRST between March 28 & April 6, 2008 at Berks.
Don�t believe me? Take a look at the confirmed line-up for 2008: Nancy Wilson, Buddy Guy, Rick Braun, Brian Culbertson, Richard Elliot, Brian Bromberg, Richard Smith, Gregg Karukas, Paul Brown, Kenny Rankin, Marc Antoine, Gerald Albright, Peter White, Jeff Golub, Jeff Lorber, Gerald Veasley, Bobby Lyle, Chuck Loeb, Walter Beasley, Everette Harp, Kim Waters, Jason Miles, Euge Groove, Alex Bugnon, Regina Carter, Sherrie Maricle & The DIVA Jazz Orchestra, Maysa, Phil Perry, Maria Muldaur, Eric Bibb, Campbell Brothers, Clarence Spady, Bonerama, Dave Samuels, Paquito D'Rivera, Will Lee. And, again, many more artists will be added.
What else makes Berks my #1 pick for US smooth jazz festivals? Pricing. In California, a single VIP seat can cost up to $260. At Berks, the same seat is less than $50. Sure, you don�t get food and beverages but you do get a premium seat (within the first four rows) and with the $210 you saved on the seat, you can buy your own dinner and a bottle of Dom Perignon. Two years ago, I purchased tickets for 14 different shows at Berks for less than what I paid for tickets at a 3-day festival on the East Coast. At Berks, most of my seats were on the front row; none were beyond the 4th row.
1. The music, the music, the music � over 130 shows � you can see almost every major smooth jazz artist in two weekends - not just the smooth jazz circuit regulars.
2. Affordable prices � everybody can afford front row tickets � without having to get a second mortgage on your house or selling your first born child.
3. Different genres of music � you can overdose on smooth jazz shows - but also sample a little straight ahead, blues and/or country.
4. Freedom to enjoy yourself - a very cool, hip and relaxing vibe � no dance police, strip searches or confiscation of your cameras.
5. The warmth of the Berks Jazz Council � not only do the promoters they act like they want you there - but they actually treat you in a way where you know they want you to come back!
6. Location, location, location - centrally located to Philly, DC & NY � close enough to visit a few major East Coast cities between the two major weekends of music.
7. Enjoy America�s favorite winter sport - shop �till you drop at the outlets, upscale malls and antique stores in the Greater Reading area � and more importantly, support the companies that support smooth jazz �like the Vanity Fair Outlet in Reading, Berks new Title Sponsor for 2008.
The Jazz Gypsy Tip: Become a Berks Arts Council Jazz Circle member at a $50 level and get your Jazz Fest tickets before they go on-sale to the public. Tickets for Jazz Circle members go on sale December 1st. Berks Art Jazz Council membership also gives you additional privileges and benefits. (www.berksarts.org/membership)