Grammy winner Charles Neville to be celebrated with return of Springfield Jazz & Roots Festival

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SPRINGFIELD – In just one week, downtown will be filled with the sounds of jazz, gospel, salsa, samba and soul as the Springfield Jazz & Roots Festival returns after a year of absence due to the pandemic.

The festival, scheduled for Saturday, August 14, from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m., has been moved from traditional Court Square to nearby Stearns Square to better connect the event to downtown restaurants.

“I am delighted that the Jazz & Roots Festival is returning and honoring Charles Neville, a world-renowned musician who was very humble and genuine,” Mayor Domenic J. Sarno said on Friday. “COVID-19 happened when the city had a lot of momentum at all levels. The Jazz and Roots Festival has been one of the flagship events not only in the Springfield area, but also in New England and New York.

The festival was co-founded in 2014 by real estate developer Evan Plotkin and Kristin Neville, wife of the late Charles Neville, a Grammy-winning artist who has performed around the world with his siblings, The Neville Brothers. , and solo. He lived in Huntington until his death in 2018 at the age of 79.

Kristin Neville announced the return of the festival during a press meeting at the Wood Museum of Springfield History, where an exhibit is currently being held honoring the life and career of her late husband.

“We are only a week away from bringing back the music, the spirit, the excitement, the cultural and community celebration that is the festival,” she said.

She added: “This is the first year of a new vision for the festival. One that’s more walkable and integrated with downtown clubs, restaurants, businesses, and organizations. We hope to develop it in the years to come.

Ahead of the festival, Springfield Museums will have a variety of family-friendly activities, including a craft area where people can make their own paper saxophones, free admission to the Wood Museum, a percussion class, and a chance to be part of the festival. ‘a parade.

“Most exciting, we will start the parade from the second line here at the Wood Museum and it will go through the streets of the city until they reach Stearns Square and that is when the festival will begin” , said Kay Simpson, president of Springfield Museums.

Kristin Neville, wife of the late musician Charles Neville. (Hoang ‘Leon’ Nguyen / The Republican)

Free admission will be available to anyone wishing to see the Neville exhibit, which staff spent about six months preparing. Neville provided many of her husband’s personal items that she has kept since his death in 2018, to make the exhibit more personal.

His saxophone case covered with stickers from different music festivals, his cowbell that he played whenever he was not using his saxophone, and a dozen passes to the music festivals he attended. over the years are well exposed.

“I hope that when people come to the exhibition, they can feel and see the depth of his life, the wonderful and rich cultural past in which he grew up, but also the oppression and personal challenges he has. encountered and the societal challenges he faced and how music was a present and strengthening force in his life forever, ”she said.“ With his creativity, he was able to share himself in a profound way through music.”

With thousands of people expected to attend the festival, various security measures have been put in place.

Health and Human Services Commissioner Helen Caulton-Harris said unvaccinated visitors are asked to wear a mask inside and out. Vaccinated people are asked to wear masks inside.

“Our main goal is to ensure the safety of participants. We are all well aware that this virus is still circulating. We are keenly aware that this continues to impact not only the city of Springfield, but this nation, ”she said. “However, I am confident and comfortable with the strategies that have been put in place by the festival management.”

There will be a vaccination clinic at the festival which is open to everyone, but Springfield residents who get vaccinated that day will be eligible for a $ 25 gift card to Walgreens, Stop & Shop or Big Y as an incentive to to get vaccinated.

Anyone attending the festival will be invited to register prior to the event or upon arrival in order to set capacity limits and for contact tracing purposes.

Registration is free and can be done online at springfieldjazzfest.com.

In addition, New England Public Media is partnering with Blues to Green to offer a series of talks as part of the Springfield Jazz & Roots Festival experience. Participants will have the opportunity to reflect on the diverse history and ancestral roots of music and culture.

To attend one or more events in the “Jazz and Justice” series, guests must confirm their attendance using this link: https://thirdrow.live/sjr/ Once registered for the festival, they will receive an email from follow up to secure a spot at one of the planned Valley Venture Mentors talks at 276 Bridge St.

Charles Neville exhibition

A preview of the exhibition “Horn Man: The Life and Musical Legacy of Charles Neville” at the Springfield Museums. (Hoang ‘Leon’ Nguyen / The Republican)

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