The Lionel Hampton International Jazz Festival brings people together
What exactly draws people to the Lionel Hampton International Jazz Festival year after year?
For some people, it may simply be the music, but personally, the allure of Jazz Fest lies in more than just the music — it’s also about the people and the experiences surrounding the festival.
For the past five years, I have volunteered for Jazz Fest in various capacities, from delivering food to helping time the performances to being the primary manager for a performance clinic. Each year, I’ve had numerous great experiences with my fellow volunteers, as well as with the participants of various workshops and performances.
I’ve learned a lot from my experiences as a volunteer, both about people and about the responsibilities behind the scenes of performances, but some of the more interesting moments I’ve had happened at the events I attended. I’ve heard fascinating stories of struggle and triumph. I’ve learned dance steps and tips about how to rehearse. I’ve also listened to some great music.
Moscow citizens and University of Idaho students alike have opportunities to reach out, whether it’s through attending an informal performance in a coffee shop or participating in a workshop. Participating in events like Jazz Fest can bring people closer together and create common ground to improve connections between friends and acquaintances.
It can be more difficult to find workshops that apply to non-musicians and aren’t exclusively meant for high school students, and there is a cost involved, but there are still some interesting opportunities. Anyone who’s interested in learning about East Coast Swing Dance, for example, has ample opportunities to participate in the jazz-based dance form.
Local businesses also participate in events. Some hold workshops, while others offer discounted prices for people who have purchased Jazz Fest buttons. Their participation helps both the festival and their business. With more people in town, there is typically more business for small companies, especially those connected to the events.
Despite the inconvenience of having an increase in traffic on campus, it’s nice to see young musicians take advantage of the chance to expand their horizons. Some of them, particularly the high school students, are surprisingly good. It’s impressive to see the dedication of some young performers.
For more polished student performances though, it’s best to listen to the college performers. They’ve had more time to hone in on their skills, and this typically shows through in terms of stage presence and musical ability.
The culture around the festival is great, but the music itself is also a fantastic experience for anyone who enjoys jazz, even if they don’t live in Moscow. While the festival is smaller and less impressive than it was at its peak, it’s still a great place to listen to talented contemporary musicians play live music.
Overall, my favorite aspect of the Jazz Fest is something that exists within Moscow the rest of the year too — the sense of community that comes from being connected. Getting involved with the festival is just a way to amplify it.
Daphne Jackson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @DaphneNJackson