Steve Simon, the island’s music man, plans to make St. John a blue, blue place next month. He’s producing the
Third Fifth Annual Blues Festival, March 21st-25th, with the main concert in Coral Bay at the ball field, March 24. "It’s the biggest music event in the Virgin Islands. We sell out all the car rentals, all the villas, and all the restaurants" he said in an in interview.
This year’s headline performers include Jon Cleary, Billy Gibson and Joey Gillmore. Simon has contacts with them through his seat on the board of the national Blues Foundation.
Most people on island know Simon for his free Sunday afternoon jazz jams, 4:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. at the Beach Bar. "It started seven years ago, at Mongoose," he said, "and within a few weeks we had lots of people showing up." A few weeks ago, Simon said, there were as many as 1,000 people on the beach, in the water, and on the docks listening. "A couple of cruise ships sent their tenders over and it was glorious."
Usually, the sessions are less crowded, maybe a few hundred people, he said. The core group of seven musicians, known as the Jazz Islanders,
play standards from the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s infused with influences of
Caribbean and jazz rhythms. Other musicians contact
Simon during the week to arrange to sit in, too. Often musicians vacationing on St. Thomas
will come over to jam, too.
The Jazz Islanders have big things in store this year. They are
completing a CD which Simon said should be released by April. "Our band
has also been invited to perform in St Croix in April at the Sunset Jazz event," Simon said, "and then we’ve been asked to go to Italy’s Umbria jazz festival this summer," Simon said. "We’re very pleased."
The Festival’s Web site is here: http://www.stjohnbluesfestival.com/bf/blueshome.htm. It is one of several projects Simon will produce this year. Others include the annual free Christmas Festival in Cruz Bay and a series of rock concerts on St. Thomas.
Listen to an interview with Steve Simon by clicking the play button below.
You can download or hear the file by clicking here.
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