Blaine Jazz Festival starts Sunday

Published on Thu, Jul 7, 2011 by Tara Nelson

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Blaine residents can get their jazz on this weekend as the 10th annual Blaine Jazz Festival kicks off with the gypsy jazz band Pearl Django, of Seattle.

The concert, part of a series of musical events, is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Sunday, July 10, at Blaine’s performing arts center.
The week-long festival, organized each year by the Pacific Arts Association (PAA), features six days of instruction for music students taught by internationally recognized faculty and free concerts for the public.

“It promises to be as big and as good as last year was,” organizer Suzanne Conrad said. “We’re very excited to have Pearl Django opening for us – they’re so invigorating.”

Conrad said most faculty will be returning this year, but they will have a few new instructors as Bob Gray decided to retire from the position to have more time to himself during the summer.

“We want to thank Bob and also stand ready in the wings to applaud Mike Dahl, the person who is taking over for him,” Conrad said.

This year’s lineup includes New York Philharmonic bassoonist Martin Kuuskmann, of Blaine, saxophone player Nick Biello, of Sax Plus, and director Greg Hopkins of the Berklee School of Music in Massachusetts.

The Fusion concert faculty, performing Tuesday, July 12, under the direction of Kuuskmann, includes three new members: Jack Perla, of San Francisco, a pianist and composer; Kevin Krintz, of Seattle, who will be teaching cello; and Peter Krysa, of Vancouver, B.C., who will be teaching violin. Also new to the jazz faculty is Mark Ivester, of Gig Harbor, who will be teaching drums; and Andy Marshall, of Bellingham, who will perform as jazz choir director.

A Big Band Benefit concert and dance is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 14, at the Semiahmoo Golf & Country Club.
The event features vocalist Greta Matassa, hors d’oeurves, a dance floor and cash bar. Admission is $35. All other evening concerts are by donation and noon concerts are free.

The Student Concert Showcase will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Friday at the performing arts center (PAC). Admission is free.
“This year’s music camp is going very well,” Conrad said. “We’d love for people to come out at 7:30 p.m. Friday, July 15, at the PAC to hear how much the students have learned in just one week from our talented professionals.”

During the week, Monday through Friday at noon, visitors can enjoy free preview performances on the G Street plaza.
The festival will culminate during the week with an “Art to Jazz” street fair from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, July 16, in downtown Blaine with food vendors and activities.

For more information, call 360/332-8311 or visit their website at