Posted Sep 28, 2017 at 5:59 AM
Updated Sep 29, 2017 at 1:26 PM
PORTSMOUTH - With a nod to two legendary Portsmouth music festivals and a focus on bringing local community entertainment to a new sector in the city, Cathartes, in cooperation with Cuzin Richard Entertainment, will present The Portsmouth Jazz & Blues Festival on Sunday, Nov. 12 in the Portwalk Place neighborhood. More than a half dozen blues and jazz acts will perform on as many stages inside Portwalk Place’s hotel and restaurant businesses from noon to 6 p.m. The festival is free and open to the first 1,000 festival goers; the festival brochure details the locations and performances at each of the stages within Portwalk Place.
Cathartes, the Boston-based private real estate firm that created Portwalk Place, is sponsoring the new event, while Cuzin Richard Smith of Cuzin Richard Entertainment Agency (CREA) is producing the festival that brings together established and emerging local performers.
Jim Goldenberg, principal at Cathartes, sums up the company’s decision to make something old new again with sponsorship of the festival.
“The Seacoast is an incredibly fertile area for some really talented musicians of all genres,” Goldenberg said. “We felt there was a great opportunity for us, together with our restaurant and hotel partners on Portwalk Place, to create a unique event that will allow the community to hear some of the area’s top jazz and blues artists in a comfortable, convenient, and fun setting.”
The new festival pays homage to the heralded Jazz and Blues festivals in Portsmouth years ago and brings together local musicians, who often headlined at festivals here and throughout the region and nation. The original Portsmouth Jazz Festival (1982-1992) began on Ceres Street and was founded by entrepreneurs Dick and Jill Gallant, Mike Smith and Peter Rice. The Blues Festival, held from 1986 to 2006, was the brainchild of historian Valerie Cunningham and blues music maker, activist and educator TJ Wheeler.
Smith, who opened his entertainment agency in Portsmouth in 1976, notes: “During this time, these individual festivals had support from organizations such as The New Hampshire Council on the Arts and the Blues Bank Collective that aren’t here anymore. Thanks to Cathartes, we can celebrate our community’s vibrant jazz and blues musicians, many of whom performed in the original festivals.” The schedule includes jazz and blues soloists, jazz duos, trios and quartets as well as an R&B and a swing trio, all playing 40-minute sets simultaneously throughout Portwalk Place.
Enduring jazz and blues performers at the Festival include The Big Note Trio featuring Ben Baldwin and Kent Allyn; Bob Halperin; TJ Wheeler; Sharon Jones Trio; Pete Peterson; the Russ Grazier Quartet featuring alumni of PMAC; sax legend Charlie Jennison and keyboard man Ray DeMarco in separate sets with jazz vocalist Shelli LaTorre while emerging acts include the instrumental jazz trio The Pork Low Mainers and jazz trio Ollie & Them.