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The 6th Annual Jazz 88 OB Music & Arts Festival brought in record ticket sales along with its expanded lineup and additional venues for an all-day party on September 10.

"Tally is still coming in, but we feel confident that paid attendance was up over last year by a minimum of 10 percent," says Mark DeBoskey, KSDS Jazz 88 station manager who's been working on the festival all year.

With 23 bands, many of them national and international touring artists — and eight stages, increased security a small army of volunteers were necessary components of a successful venture. The volunteers wore bright pink festival shirts and seemed to be everywhere. "There were over a 100 of them," explained DeBoskey, "and they were magnificent."

Walking into the festival from the beach side, I caught the sweet soulful sounds of the MLK Community Choir, under the direction of Pastor Ken Anderson.

Local musicians were an important part of the festival mix. Vocalist Janice Edwards delivered a blistering set of jazz with soul and blues overtones, expertly supported by a super-tight ensemble featuring Cecil McBee Jr on bass, the Wes Montgomery styled Dan Papila on guitar, Nathan Fry on keyboards, Russell Bizzett on drums, and Derek Canon on trumpet.

Later that day I caught a partial set of local singer/songwriter Steph Johnson, and I wish I'd stayed for more. Johnson's got her own take on soulful vocals, she's been collaborating with Peter Sprague, and is doing some very original stuff.

Another vocalist associated with Sprague is Allison Adams Tucker who performed wonderfully on "Calling Me Home," Sprague's all-vocals album of 2010. Fronting a band of Josh Nelson on piano, Evona Wascinski on bass and Mike Holguin on drums, Tucker played her personal distillation of world music at Gallaghers, and the VIP stage.

The Jazz 88 Allstars, opened the Main Stage with a roar, powered by the incredible bass virtuosity of Bill Andrews, guided by the swing engine of Barry Farrar on drums and pianist Anthony Smith, the frontline of Bob Campbell on tenor and Steve Ebner on trumpet threw down on classic jazz from Horace Silver and Woody Shaw, and set the bar high for the headline acts to follow.

Organist Dr. Lonnie Smith drew a full house for his trio of Jonathan Kreisberg on guitar and Jamire Williams on drums. Smith's set was all about the flow. The organist had an exquisite sense of patience--his solos built from the smallest ideas into full fledged story-telling, all in good time. Kreisberg proved to be on the verge of much greater recognition-- his contributions were essays in virtousity, and full of ideas. Williams kept the time rock solid and took an incredible solo to close the set. Two words: festival highlight.

Blues harmonica great Charlie Musselwhite kicked things up a notch with his personal take on the Chicago blues tradition, inspiring many to dance. Musselwhite's smoke-stained singing on shuffles like "Bad Boy" and "Church Is Out" set the scene for a sumptuous harp instrumental, "Christ the Redeemer."

Of course, with 23 bands and 8 stages, it was impossible to catch it all. I missed Mark McGrain & Plunge, the western swing of Hot Club of Cowtown, the funk of The Styletones and the Robert Walter Quartet. Likewise, I missed the blues of Nathan James and mainstream jazz of Charlie Shoemake.

I caught enough of the Latin grooves of the Gene Perry Orchestra to say that's a very hot band, that I would recommend without reservation.

Just before sunset, Dr. John mounted the Main Stage with a stripped -down backing band featuring guitar, bass and drums. He cooked up a gumbo of gritty vocals, screaming guitar, swamp keyboards and second-line rhythms to wild applause. It all wrapped up with a medley of New Orleans staples laced through a boogie curtain as the shadows fell in OB.

Crowd photo by Vince Outlaw *Top left photo of Robert Walter from Myspace (photo by Kelsey Winterkorn)

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