BOONE, NC – Joining together for only the second time in a precedent-setting partnership, the Appalachian Theatre of the High Country (ATHC), Boone Sunrise Rotary, and the Jazz Studies Program at Appalachian State University proudly announce the headliners for the 2023 High Country Jazz Festival taking place in Boone and Blowing Rock, North Carolina, from June 9 through 11, 2023. Tickets are now on sale via the website: www.highcountryjazzfestival.org
Presented by Mast General Store with additional support from Explore Boone and Hampton Inn & Suites, the High Country Jazz Festival is a collaborative project that aims “to host exceptional and engaging jazz experiences for local residents and regional audiences with proceeds to support arts, education, and civic programs that enrich our High Country home.”
Headliner performances by The Legendary Count Basie Orchestra and the Emmet Cohen Trio take place in the historic Appalachian Theatre in Boone with the Reggie Buie Group performing outdoors under a tent at the Chetola Resort in Blowing Rock. Additional festival affiliated events will be announced shortly, along with additional sponsors and host locations, including outdoor concerts, late night jams, jazz lunches, and a popular jazz-themed film.
Keith Martin and Todd Wright are co-chairs of the 2023 Festival and members of the leadership team planning the celebration. “The inaugural festival in 2022 was a success even before its first concert took place,” said Martin. “We knew we had a hit on our hands when asked about dates for next year at our opening event. That success was due primarily to the collective wisdom and consolidated efforts by three separate entities who came together to create the festival: The Appalachian Theatre, Boone Sunrise Rotary Club, and the Jazz Studies Program at Appalachian State University. The entire group is back for an encore event this year.”
Martin, who also chairs the App Theatre board, said “The common denominator behind every major cultural event is a dynamic visionary; with the High Country Jazz Festival, our quixotic driving force was — and is — Todd Wright, who has been talking about creating such an event for over a decade.”
“All we needed for this dream to become a reality was an anchor venue,” said Wright, “and the Appalachian Theatre has proven to be the perfect facility to host the High Country Jazz Festival. Since last August, I have been working with App Theatre Executive Director Suzanne Livesay to develop a short list of headliners to anchor the 2023 Festival. Fortunately, we were able to engage the groups at the very top of our list.”
The Legendary Count Basie Orchestra®, directed by Scotty Barnhart, with guest vocalist Carmen Bradford, will perform at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, June 9 at the Appalachian Theatre. In the history of jazz music, there is only one bandleader that has the distinction of having his orchestra still performing sold out concerts all over the world, with members personally chosen by him, for over 30 years after his passing. Pianist and bandleader William James “Count” Basie was — and still is — an American institution that personifies the grandeur and excellence of Jazz. The Count Basie Orchestra, today directed by Scotty Barnhart, has won every respected jazz poll in the world at least once, captured 18 Grammy Awards, performed for kings, queens, and other world royalty, appeared in several movies, television shows, at every preeminent jazz festival and major concert hall in the world.
Wright asked, “What can you say about Basie that hasn’t already been said? He was out of Kansas City in the 1920s and playing silent movies until being hired as a second pianist for the Bennie Moten Orchestra before starting his own group. If you listen closely to their ‘All American Rhythm Section,’ you’ll hear Bill Basie at the piano, Freddie Green on guitar, Walter Page on bass, and ‘Jo’ Jones on drums. They could swing like crazy and drove audience members wild with their virtuosity musicianship, performing with legends such as Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, and Sarah Vaughan. And now the tradition continues.”
The Emmet Cohen Trio takes to the App Theatre stage at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 10. Cohen is an internationally acclaimed jazz artist and winner of the 2019 American Pianists Award. He appears regularly with jazz greats Benny Golson, Tootie Heath, and Lea DeLaria among others. During the 2020 pandemic lockdown, he gained fame and revived the jazz genre with weekly live-streamed performances featuring a wide range of jazz works. Cohen has appeared in varied international jazz events, including the Newport, Monterey, Detroit, North Sea, Bern, Edinburgh, and Jerusalem jazz festivals, as well as the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics in Russia. He performed at the Village Vanguard, the Blue Note, Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, Birdland, Jazz Standard, London’s Ronnie Scott’s, Jazzhaus Montmartre in Copenhagen, Lincoln Center’s Rose Hall, the Cotton Club in Tokyo, and the Kennedy Center.
“Surprisingly, the Emmet Cohen Trio will be making their High Country debut during our ’23 Festival,” said Wright. “This incredibly talented trio of musicians are all in their 30s and will give our audiences a chance to hear what they’ve been missing from the younger crowd.”
At 5:30 p.m. on Sunday afternoon, June 11, The Reggie Buie Group, will perform under the tent at Chetola Resort in Blowing Rock. A resident of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Buie began his musical journey at the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago. From there, he attended Florida A&M and was a member of the famed “Marching 100.” Buie earned both writing and recording credits on the national level while living in Miami. Now, the Reggie Buie Group is a regular on stage in Greensboro, Charlotte, and Raleigh swinging between smooth jazz and standards. His group’s versatility and ability to move effortlessly between soft background music, performing jazz standards, music for dancing, or delivering passionate jazz performances and improvisation are hallmarks of their live concerts.
Wright said, “The Reggie Buie Group offers something a little different, a smooth jazz sound that showcases these Winston-Salem based artists for High Country Jazz audiences. We’re expecting this to be a memorable event.”
“Todd and I both want to give a shout out to the 2023 leadership team who has been working since last June to make this years’ High Country Jazz Festival even bigger and better,” said Martin. “These dedicated volunteers include John Cooper, Mark Freed, Sali Gill-Johnson, Paige Henderson, Brian Irving, David Jackson, Suzanne Livesay, Keith Martin, Sheri Moretz, Denise Ringler, Kathy Scott, Jim Street, and Wright Tilley. None of this would have been possible without their collaborative efforts.”
The High Country Jazz Festival is excited to offer an “all-event” ticket, which includes admission to all three headliner performances. There are two options: Premier ($110, including taxes and fees, with prime seating for Appalachian Theatre performances) and Regular ($95, including taxes and fees). To purchase tickets, please visit the festival’s official website at www.highcountryjazzfestival.org.
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