ESSEX – Despite a weekend filled with rain, the 14th Annual Hot Steamed Jazz Festival on June 23-25 was attended by many music lovers.
On a very wet Saturday afternoon, organizer Dick Moore said “the turnout was lower than usual because of the weather but we have a good audience and everyone is having a great time.”
As of press time, President Joe Bombosi said he did not have a figure yet on how much money was made at the festival but said, “weather kept some people away but not so much it hurt us terribly.”
An almost full tent of people attended the festival June 24 to listen to Vince Giordano’s Nighthawks from New York, a group of ten people playing tuba, bass saxophone, string bass, violin, trumpet, trombone, piano, guitar, and drums.
The band specializes in playing music from the 1920’s and 30’s with songs like Duke Ellington’s “Black Beauty”, “Shake That Thing”, and “Business in F”.
At the other tent, the young musicians of Kevin Dorn’s Traditional Jazz Collective had an energetic jam session swing with drums, trombone, vocals, piano, bass, clarinet, and alto and soprano saxophones.
Doris Heerlein from Simsbury, who has been coming to the festival for the past ten years, encouraged her two friends from Cape Cod to come with her this year.
Heerlein expressed her love for the musical talents of Vince Giordano’s band and the talents of Dan Levinson.
Levinson played saxophone in Vince Giorano’s Band, played clarinet and saxophone for Banu Gibson and Her New Orleans Hot Jazz Band, and is the leader the leader, c-melody saxophone, and clarinet for the Canary Cottage Dance Orchestra band from New York.
Banu Gibson is one of the few vocalists remaining loyal to the songs of the 20s, 30s and 40s while the Canary Cottage Dance Orchestra performs one-steps, two-steps, fox-trots, waltzes, and other dances popular at the dawn of jazz.
Maria Levy, from Bloomingdale, Indiana, said she loves the festival and has been coming for the past 10 years.
Levy said she enjoys the talents of Levinson and Jeff Barnhart and “every year there are new acts and well-known musicians and it supports a great cause.”
Proceeds from the non-profit festival are used to support the Hole In The Wall Gang Camp in Ashford, CT.
Children with cancer and life threatening blood disease attend the 330-acre camp who otherwise would not be able to attend a summer camp because of their disease.
Paul Newman founded the camp in 1988 which offers year-round programs to over 1,000 campers.
Barnhart is a leader and piano player for Jeff Barnhart & Friends and sings duet with his wife Anne.
Al Bernard plays the tuba for the Jeff Barnhart and Friends, a band who has been with the festival since its inception.
When asked what he likes about playing in Essex, Bernard said, “I like the family, commodore, the feeling between the musicians, the people we see once or twice a year is our family, its not an industrial type of job.”
Bernard said the turnout was “very good considering the rain” and says he is glad the festival is supporting a good cause.
A newcomer to the festival was Annette St. John, a singer who sings all types of jazz but says, “my favorite is Ella Fitzergarld, Sara Mon, and Diana Washington.”
St. John said she loves to sing because it “allows me to express myself and make people feel what’s coming to me.”
Volunteer Karen Senn said the festival attracts people from all over and many attendees are followers of popular jazz bands while others enjoy the variety of different types of jazz music.