No sadness in Winter Blues' return engagement

Contact Reporterhbridges@vagazette.com
2{+n}{+d} annual Winter Blues Jazz Fest returns to downtown Williamsburg

The idea of Winter Blues Jazz Fest just seemed right.

Merging the passions of three Williamsburg business-owners: Chef David Everett, Jennifer Raines and Steve Rose. Responding to local praise for Quirks of Art's jazz-oriented "Art & Soul" events. And shaking up January's quiet.

"It seemed to just make sense," said Rose, owner of Williamsburg Event Rentals.

"Just to bring really good music," he continued. "Create something, a weekend-long event that gives people a reason to come to town, and also for locals to venture out, in January."

The community ventured out. With around 1,200 individual tickets available, the inaugural Winter Blues Jazz Fest in 2015 sold out, except for one event.

The festival returns Jan. 14-17, featuring headliners Davina and the Vagabonds from Minneapolis, Minn. With 14 events filling four days, the 1,800 available tickets are selling fast.

"Our end goal is that this event will become a long-standing cultural event for the Williamsburg community," wrote Raines, Quirks of Art owner, in an email.

But, Raines hopes to accomplish this goal incrementally, making small changes and additions each year. So the festival maintains the character and the soul that made it resonate initially.

Additions this year include a jazz club experience at the Williamsburg Art Gallery Jan. 15 and wine-tasting event at the Muscarelle Museum Jan. 16.

These events layer a lineup of jazz musicians and culinary talent, coordinated by Everett, set in quintessential Williamsburg venues.

"It's scary and exciting that we have events that are competing against each other," Raines said. But that's part of the goal: "giving our patrons more to choose from to create their own unique experience."

The "Mixology & Music" event at the Williamsburg Lodge features the talent of nine local "celebrity" bartenders and headliners Davina and the Vagabonds.

Raines expects frontwoman and pianist Davina Sowers to electrify audiences. "If Etta James and Randy Newman had a child, and Betty Boop was her nanny, then Davina Sowers would be the result," she said.

The driving force of the festival is, of course, the jazz.

Raines is a big fan. "It takes me back to a different place and time," she said.

Still, jazz excites all ages, and that's apparent at the festival.

"We don't see just one segment of the population," Rose said. "We see a full section. Young and old, coming together, enjoying it."

"It's important to keep the music alive," Raines said.

Organizers recommend the four-day festival pass, at $185, for making the most of the festival. The Williamsburg Lodge is offering rooms at discounted rates to festival attendees.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit winterbluesjazzfest.com or call 757-592-4289.

Bridges can be reached by phone at 757-275-4934.

Festival Lineup

•Opening Night Celebration: Featuring Good Shot Judy performance. 6-9 p.m., Jan. 14. Williamsburg Winery. $35.

•Jazz Jam: Rumble Seat Revival and Harris Simon Trio perform individual sets, culminating in a jam session. 6:30-10 p.m., Jan. 15, Winter Blues Tent (Duke of Gloucester Street). $20.

•The Cabaret Club: Late-night jazz club experience featuring Timeline Jazz Quartet. 9 p.m.-12 a.m., Jan. 15, Williamsburg Art Gallery. $30.

•DoG Street Pub Firkin Fest: Beer and food festival, featuring cask ale. Blues music from Bobby Blackhat Band, Anthony Rosano & the Conqueroos and more. 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m., Jan. 16, Winter Blues Tent. $35.

•Art of Jazz: Wine-tasting event featuring Triple Crossing Jazz Project performance. 2-4:30 p.m., Jan. 16, Muscarelle Museum. $45.

•Mixology & Music: Features headliners Davina & the Vagabonds and cocktails from nine local bartenders. 7 p.m., Jan. 16, Williamsburg Lodge. $70.

•Jazz & Blues Brunches: Live music and brunch at Prime46Forty, Waypoint Seafood Grill, Blue Talon Bistro, Trellis or 3 other venues. 11 a.m.-1 p.m., Jan. 17. $40.

•Jazz on the Square: Free community concert featuring William & Mary's Jazz Combo. 2-5 p.m., Jan. 17, Winter Blues Tent.

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