I will not lie: I am not a musician. When I was young I wanted to be one. Desperately. But after several years of (badly) playing sax in my jr. high school band and some guitar lessons I never took seriously, I realized that my place in the music world was in the audience, not on the stage. So when the folks from the Medicine Hat Jazz Fest asked if I wanted to hit the road and do a little jam with them I was… nervous.
But I’m always game for an adventure, so I met Jazz Fest Producer Lyle Rebbeck at the Esplanade Theatre in Medicine Hat (an easy three hour drive from Calgary) where he and trombonist Teague Bates bravely accompanied me on a tune as I laid down a bass guitar line patiently taught to me by “Kool” Ray Martens. The results? Not bad:
Read more about this experience in a piece I wrote for FestivalSeekers.
Why indulge in this exercise? Because jazz is fun. And not as scary as many of us think it can be. Sure, jazz can be complicated, super intellectual, and incredibly challenging — not only to play but also to listen to. But it can also be fun and swingy and really accessible. Which is Rebbeck’s aim with the Medicine Hat Jazz Fest, which takes place this year on June 18-25 in venues throughout Medicine Hat. The festival features prestige players like Kurt Rosenwinkel, party bands like Kool Ray and the Hip Katz, swing dancing, and a Latin dance party with Yoslai De La Rosa. If it sounds like there’s a little something for everyone… it’s because there is. With free outdoor concerts, gigs in pubs and bars, and sit down theatre shows, it really is a festival for the whole community, as well as any out-of-towners who want to enjoy the famed Medicine Hat Sunshine alongside their music.
And, in case you didn’t know… Medicine Hat’s other claim to fame are its coffee shops — the relatively small city has a total of six independent coffee shops, which is a godsend for anyone who knows what it’s like to be desperate for a cup of coffee the morning after a night of music. Several, like the Inspire Cafe and Cafe Verve, as well as my personal fave, The Station will be hosting gigs throughout the fest. If you make it to the Station, be sure to grab a Rootbeer Godfather, a chilled mix of cream, espresso, and Grizzly Paw root beer. You won’t be sorry.
To learn more about the Medicine Hat Jazz Fest and other things to do when you’re in the Medicine Hat area, check out the story I wrote at FestivalSeekers.
This post is in support of a story I contributed to FestivalSeekers, which I was paid to write.