The theme for the June 16-18 Summer Jazz Weekend in Harrison County is “Great First Impressions…Again and Again” according to organizers of the annual event which will see live jazz performances in nine venues with over 30 artists participating. Performances are scheduled in Shinnston, Clarksburg and Bridgeport over the three day event.
The West Virginia Jazz Society (WVJS) produces the event with major sponsorship from the Barbara Highland Fund for the Arts to pay primarily for artists and production expenses.
“Our regional marketing plan is attract new customers from outside the immediate area,” said Rose Ann Policano, WVJS Vice President and a member of the WVJS marketing committee. “When they are here to enjoy the world class jazz, it is an opportunity to make the best first impression we can, so they will come back frequently. In the long term, that is some of the most cost-effective marketing you can do.”
Traditionally, the Jazz Stroll events on Fridays see four to six different uptown eateries host a variety of jazz bands that perform simultaneously during the evening, with no cover charge by any venue.
On Saturdays, a large concert style event is held in Bridgeport at the Bridgeport Conference Center or the Benedum Civic Center. Each venue designs its own approach to hosting while (the WVJS) stands by to assist, explained Policano.
Some of the methods and techniques to entertain guests were developed as the result of consumer research and feedback over the past three years producing live jazz in a variety of venues.
“We have learned that ‘selling out’ is not necessarily the best thing, especially for a one or two night event. That just means there were potential customers who went away unhappy or unfulfilled,” said Policano. “Ideally, we’d like each place to have just one table available at any one time. The rest would be filled.”
The focus on the quality of the “first impression” also extends to those who may have come to the jazz festival in the past, added Policano.
“With new artists and new venues getting involved, it really can be a ‘first time’ type experience every time someone joins the audiences,” she said. “We think that the ‘please the customer’ attitude gives us all the chance to make a great first impression every time we meet.”
The 2017 Summer Jazz Weekend In Harrison County will begin on Friday, June 16, in Clarksburg Nursing and Rehabilitation Center and in Shinnston at the Bice-Ferguson Museum with afternoon performances, then continue that evening with the fourth annual Summer Jazz Stroll in uptown Clarksburg with five different venues presenting at least six different bands.
The weekend continues Saturday, June 17, in Bridgeport in Jazz at Charles Pointe in the Bridgeport Conference Center with Neil King and Mark Cappellini’s MJO, a 16-piece all star, jazz big band, in a nightclub type show.
MJO will perform with Robert Redd, the pianist for the Duke Ellington Orchestra, and Sue Matthews, a big band vocalist in the chanteuse style.
Offered along with the MJO show is a gourmet small plates and tapas buffet.
There is a $40 per ticket charge for the Jazz at Charles Pointe event.
On Sunday, June 18, the 3-day festival concludes with a special “Sunday Brunch Time” program that will offer live jazz at the Bridgeport Farmers Market and other Harrison County venues.
“Summer Jazz Weekend In Harrison County is going to be a true classic jazz and swing music festival,” added Policano. “We’re being pretty traditional in our style choices this time. Next time, we’ll get back to adding some progressive, Latin and soul jazz into the mix.”
For more information on West Virginia Jazz Society programming, including opportunities to participate as students, vendors, artists or sponsors, email: WVJazzSociety@aol.com, phone 304-517-9813, or visit: WVJazzSociety.com.