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High Country Jazz Festival “Takes The Stage” June 8 – 12; Final Performances, Free Events, and Schedule Announced

Now that the final performance line-up and event schedule are confirmed, the organizers behind the inaugural High Country Jazz Festival have released the complete line-up of activities for the five day festival taking place from June 8 through 12, 2022. 

Joining together in a precedent-setting partnership, the Appalachian Theatre of the High Country (ATHC), Boone Sunrise Rotary, and Todd Wright’s Jazz Studies Program are collaborating on the inaugural High Country Jazz Festival with eleven unique free and ticketed events at seven different locations in Boone and Blowing Rock. The events include outdoor concerts, late night jams, jazz lunches and dinners, and a popular jazz-themed film.

Sponsored by Explore Boone and Mast General Store, 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.”

Todd Wright

“More than half the Jazz Festival events are free of charge to the general public,” said John Cooper, former board chair of the Appalachian Theatre. “This fact is due to the enomous generosity of the many sponsors who are making this inaugural event accessible to jazz enthusiasts throughout the High Country and beyond.” 

Headliner performances by Delfeayo Marsalis and the Uptown Jazz Orchestra and New York Voices take place in the newly-renovated Appalachian Theatre with the Stephen Gordon Trio performing outdoors under a tent at the Chetola Resort. Additional festival affiliated events will be hosted by the Blowing Rock Art & History Museum, Casa Rustica, Lost Province, Ransom Pub, and the Town of Boone. 

Individual event sponsors include Allen Wealth Management, Blue Ridge Energy, Creekside Electronics, Footsloggers, Maureen and David Moses, the Rosemyr Corporation, and Village Jewelers. Additional support is provided by Chetola Resort, the law firm of Deal, Moseley & Smith, LLP, Wendy and Mike Brenner, Julie and Bob Gates, Grandfather Winery, the Kennedy-Herterich Foundation, New River Power & Light, the Town of Blowing Rock, the Town of Boone, Valle Crucis Conference Center, Watauga Arts Council and other generous individual donors. 

Festival media sponsors are the Curtis Media Group and Mountain Times Publications The Blowing Rocket and the Watauga Democrat, with additional support from WDAV 88.9 and WCNC 88.7 and Yes! Weekly.  

Here’s the final line-up on a day-by-day basis for the inaugural High Country Jazz Festival:

Wednesday, June 8: The inaugural festivalkicks off at 7 p.m. with a public screening of MGM’s classic 1956 romantic musical comedy film “High Society” at the Appalachian Theatre on King Street in downtown Boone. This much-loved musical remake of the Philip Barry play, “The Philadelphia Story,” stars Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly, Frank Sinatra, and the incomparable jazz legend Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong and his all-star band, with an original score by Cole Porter.  Admission is $12 for adults and $6 for children ages 12 and under.  

Thursday, June 9: Two free intimate jazz showcases are offered on the second day of the Jazz Festival. From 1 to 4 p.m., “Afternoon Jazz with the Swing Guitars” takes place at Lost Province Brewing Company, located at 130 North Depot Street in Boone. It is followed from 6 to 9 p.m. by an event featuring local jazz legends during “A Jazz Dinner with Todd Wright and Andy Page” at Casa Rustica,1348 Highway 105 South in Boone. Admission is free, but advance reservations are highly recommended as seating is limited.  

Friday, June 10: The Blowing Rock Art & History Museum (BRAHM) is hosting a talk entitled “Personalities in Jazz: A North Carolina Connection” at 11 a.m. There is no cost for BRAHM members and admission is $8 for the public.  The Town of Boone is hosting a free event at 5:30 p.m. at the Jones House at 604 West King Street showcasing the Todd Wright Jazz All-Stars, featuring musicians Todd Wright on saxophone, Rick Simerly on trombone, Steve Davidowski on keyboard, Andy Page on guitar, Adam Booker on bass, and Rick Dilling on drums.  

The first headliner event takes place on Friday at 7:30 p.m. at the Appalachian Theatre when New York Voices takes the stage of the historic venue.  According to the Boston Herald, “New York Voices lives up to its reputation as the most exciting vocal ensemble in current jazz… to collect such quality voices in one group is rare enough, yet the real trick of New York Voices is how well they mesh…” Tickets are $34.               

Saturday, June 11:  Jazz morning, noon, and night is on the schedule on the Jazz Festival’s busiest day, beginning with aspiring professional artists in the morning and well-established jazz legends that evening.  From 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Todd Wright’s students in the Jazz Studies Program perform popular works free of charge underneath the historic, award-winning art deco façade and marquee at the Appalachian Theatre.  This event is free to the public. 

At 7:30 p.m., a highlight of the festival takes place inside the App Theatre when Delfeayo Marsalis and the Uptown Jazz Orchestra make their debut performance in the High County. Among their numerous accolades is a sterling review from Downbeat Magazine which said, “Both of Delfeayo Marsalis’ New Orleans-based Uptown Jazz Orchestra’s [compact disc] releases… rank among the strongest big band discs of the past 10 years.”  Tickets are $35 and $42.          

From 10 p.m. until midnight, jazz enthusiasts and musicians from near and far will gather at Ransom Pub at 747 West King Street in Boone for a Late Night Open Jam Session. It will be a chance to enjoy your favorite beverage while listening to emerging talents and seasoned veterans celebrating this beloved art form. This event is free of charge. 

Sunday, June 12:  The headliner event on Sunday takes place outdoors in Blowing Rock from 5 to 7 p.m. when Chetola Resort hosts the High Country Jazz Society’s performance of the acclaimed Stephen Gordon Trio. Gordon is a Boone native and, according to jazz drummer and vibraphonist Jason Marsalis, “Stephen Gordon is a musician who believes in the music. Whether on piano or drums, he always plays great ideas while constantly supporting the music in the best possible way.” Single tickets are $25.

Audiences are invited to stay after the closing High Country Jazz Festival concert for the free Jazz Nightcap event at Chetola from 7:30 to 10 p.m. with Shane Chalke’s BE Jazzperforming for audience members under the tent with Chalke on trumpet, Jim Fleri on piano, Ben McPherron on bass, and Michael Willis on drums. 

For links to purchase seats for the ticketed events and a complete performance schedule for the entire festival, please visit the website at www.highcountryjazzfestival.org.