All that jazz

Published on Tue, Jul 2, 2013 by Brandy Kiger Shreve

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There’s music in the air. 

Blaine’s 12th annual jazz festival is coming to town July 7 through 14, bringing with it widely acclaimed musicians from across the country and an opportunity for Blaine students to learn from the masters.

The festival, hosted by the Pacific Arts Association (PAA), will kick off on Sunday, July 7 with a double-bill concert featuring Pearl Django, a well-known Hot Club-style band with swing sensibilities, and the Blaine Jazz Festival faculty. 

After its opener, the music will continue to build to an impressive crescendo with free concerts on the G Street Plaza Monday through Friday at noon and evening concerts Tuesday through Friday. 

“The noon concerts are a preview of all the evening events,” said executive director Kristie Galbraith. “It’s a great time. We have people from Canada who come over every day for their lunch break to listen to the music.”

The concert series will feature both vocal and instrumental jazz, and includes fusion. “It’s a lot of interesting things that we don’t normally hear in Whatcom County,” Galbraith said. “There really is going to be something for everyone.”

While most of the evening concerts are by donation, a Big Band Benefit concert and dance, directed by Greg Hopkins and featuring Greta Matassa, is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 11, at the Semiahmoo Golf and Country Club. Tickets are $40 per person.

The money generated from that concert funds future concerts and also helps pay for the jazz camp that is part of the two-fold event. 

Students ages 12 to 19 are invited to come and learn from the musicians during the day. Tuition is $350 and scholarships are available. Room and board is available for an additional fee. 

“We fundraise all year to do this, and to subsidize the tuition so that students can afford it,” Galbraith said. “The real highlight of the event is the Student Showcase on Friday, July 12. It’s the grand finale and it’s really amazing.”

Students from all backgrounds of music are welcome and will be able to experiment with different musical styles. The deadline to register is Sunday,  July 7.

On Saturday,  July 13, the concert will close with an Art to Jazz Street Fair, inviting artists and musicians to take over part of Peace Portal Drive for the day. “The street will be closed between G and H streets and there will be music from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in both of the plazas,” Galbraith said. “It’s going to be a fun day.” 

For more information about the concert series, or to register for camp, visit