Indiana jazz, blues fest expands with kickoff concert
Pittsburgh-based jazz and funk bassist Dwayne Dolphin and blues singer and multi-instrumentalist Vanessa Collier will headline the Delaney Chevrolet Westsylvania Jazz and Blues Festival May 25 in downtown Indiana.
Entering its sixth year, the free music festival has expanded to include a pop-up vendor’s market, children’s activities and a May 24 kickoff concert.
“Every year we have been fortunate to find amazing artists for the festival, and this year is no exception,” said steering committee member Matt Baumer. “Blues fans are going to love Vanessa Collier’s energetic and soulful singing and sax playing. Dwayne Dolphin is a jazz master with a deep reservoir of musicianship.”
Main performances will take place beginning at 10 a.m. May 25 at IRMC Park on North Seventh Street. Late night sets, to be announced, will start at 9 p.m. at various local venues.
Dolphin, the festival’s jazz headliner, will appear at 5:45 p.m. as a presentation of the Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival and the August Wilson African American Cultural Center.
A member of the Pittsburgh Jazz Hall of Fame, Dolphin was recruited out of high school by Wynton Marsalis to tour with his quintet. He also has played and recorded with such luminaries as Hank Jones, Nancy Wilson and John Hicks. In 2018, he released his eighth solo album, “Indigenous.”
Collier, the event’s blues headliner, will take the stage at 7:30 p.m. Her 2018 album, “Honey Up,” spent nine weeks atop the Billboard Blues Album Chart’s Top 15 and three months on the Living Blues Chart.
Her voice has been compared to that of Bonnie Raitt and she has been nominated for five Blues Music Awards — including “Best Contemporary Female Blues Artist” and “Instrumentalist of the Year – Horn” in 2019.
The lineup of additional performers includes:
• 10 a.m. — The Dad Band, a local jazz quintet
• 10:45 a.m. — Indiana Area Senior High School Jazz Ensemble with Jared Sims, an internationally touring and recording artist who plays saxophone and woodwinds.
• 11:30 a.m. — The Nevin Saylor Big Band with Jared Sims
• 12:45 p.m. — Jack of Diamonds, acoustic duo presented by the Blues Society of Western Pennsylvania
• 2 p.m. — The Inner Urge, fusion/funk
• 3:15 p.m. — Tom Roberts, New Orleans-style piano
• 4:30 p.m. — Miss Freddye, blues
The May 24 kickoff concert features blues-rockers Left Lane Cruiser from Fort Wayne, Ind., and Homer City-based rock band Post Traumatik. Slated for 7 p.m. at IRMC Park, it is hosted by the Downtown Indiana organization.
A GoFundMe campaign is under way to help support next year’s festival.
Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jeff at 724-836-6622, [email protected] or via Twitter .