Watertown’s marquee musical event is all set to bring jazz back to the historic square on Saturday with one small change, it’ll be a one-day lineup this year instead of two.
Event organizer John Jewell said that despite the condensed schedule, the quality is still going to be there. The line-up features The Vantrease Jazz Band, Jerry Krahn’s Fat Tuesday Dixieland Jazz Band and Bob McChesney and Cabria Foti with the Nashville Jazz Orchestra.
Jewell said that as excited as he is about some of these acts, he’s thrilled to have some local collegiate jazz talent featured as well. Cumberland University’s Jazz Band will perform at 3 p.m. and the Boro Red Hot Jazz Majors of Middle Tennessee State University tip off at 4 p.m.
The full festival starts at 1 p.m. with the Nightingale Big Band, followed by the Music City Swing Big Band at 2 p.m. Each performance will last about an hour, and be followed immediately by the next act.
Jewell credited Glenn Martin, the festival’s music director, for helping craft the lineup.
“He’s been helping line up music for years. He has taught music at Cumberland and Vanderbilt. He knows the acts and the people in the industry,” said Jewell.
Jewell told Martin that he wanted this year’s event to feature pure jazz. What he meant by that, he was happy to explain. “We would like for the music to be listenable jazz with melodies people recognize.”
He is convinced Martin has put together just such a lineup.
Last year’s event was not held due to the pandemic, but the organizers have years of experience to their names and have all the pieces in place to pull this thing off, according to Jewell.
The organizer said stages won’t be set up until late Friday evening, but employing a relatable analogy, commented, “All the bolts and screws are in place, they just haven’t been tightened.”
Jewell first got started with the Jazz Fest in 1995, when it only had a budget of $5,000. This year, the organization has raised almost $40,000, well above its target goal.
“Fundraising is never easy but we have been able to obtain our goals,” he said.
Since there isn’t seating set up for guests, attendees are encouraged to bring their own light foldable chair. Jewell also said to bring an umbrella, which can serve two functions. “If it rains, you’re covered, or you can use it to shield you from the sun.”
There will be some road closures and additional law enforcement on site for the event. According to Watertown Police Assistant Chief Michael Henderlight, the department will be providing “three additional officers to help just with the festival.”
“The Town Square will be closed to vehicle traffic along with some business parking lots to help with parking for the performers,” Henderlight said. “All closed areas will be marked.”
For some guests, automobile traffic won’t be an issue. Jewell expects the sold out excursion train coming from Nashville to bring about 450-500 people into Watertown for the event. Jewell said he spoke with the train company and tickets have been sold out for over a month.
For more information on the line-up, sponsors, or even details on how and when this began, check out watertownmusicandarts.com.
If you’re interested in signing up as a vendor, contact Watertown Chamber of Commerce at 615-237-0270 or visit WatertownTN.com to download an application.