ON SITE: ANOTHER GREAT YEAR AT THE RICHMOND JAZZ FESTIVAL [PHOTOS]

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Macy Gray Performed on the Dominion Stage

Photos and Words by Cheats @CheatsMovement

Wonderful weather – a loaded Maymont Park – enthusiastic music lovers – and some of the best artists in all of jazz and R&B was the theme of the 2015 Jazz Festival last weekend in Richmond, VA. The Cheats Movement camera was on hand to capture some of the electric atmosphere. A combination of national headliners like: New Edition, Macy Gray, Ms. Lauryn Hill, Anthony Hamilton and Natalie Cole were paired alongside some of RVA’s favorite bands: Butcher Brown, Love Logic, Victor Haskins and Sam Reed to make this year’s festivals one of the best in recent memory.

The festival expanded this year with the addition of a third stage. The WestRock Stage added a smaller more traditional jazz element to this year’s festival. The WestRock stage joined the traditional lager stages: The Dominion Stage and the Virginia is for Lovers Stage. The third stage was a clear benefit to the festival as there were no issues with 3 stages going at once. Maymont Park is just a wonderful venue for festival and honestly should be used more with all the festival we have in Richmond.

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Ms. Lauryn Hill closed the festival out on the Virginia is for Lovers Stage

As for the performances, 2015 was another amazing year for the festival. Ms. Lauryn Hill headlined the festival Sunday night and performed and amazing set that spanned her illustrious and enigmatic career. She started with songs from her MTV Unplugged double CD (2002) which did give the crowd some pause. Not because those songs are not good but the crowd was definitely clamoring for Fugees and Miseducation hits. And Ms. Hill delivered – performing hits “Fu-Gee-La” “Ready or Not” and her rendition of “Killing Me Softly.” She did uptempo versions of “Ex-Factor” and “Lost Ones.” She also performed a 3-set tribute of Bob Marley songs and a Nina Simone cover of “Feeling Good.” Ms. Hill sounded amazing despite her struggles with the local sound crew. She closed the night out with an amazing live rendition of “Doo Wop.”

In regards to energy, Saturday night headliner New Edition delivered an electric performance. Fans traveled from all over the east coast to see: Ricky, Ronnie, Ralph, Mike and Johnny and they did not disappoint singing their plethora of hits from the 80’s and 90’s: “Candy Girl” “Cool it Now” BBD’s “Poison.”  I ran across fans carrying baseball style caps from the 1985 fresh fest tour and another group carrying a scrap book of all the times they saw New Edition preform live.

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New Edition headlined the Virginia is for Lovers Stage on Saturday night

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1985 Fresh Fest hats

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Ralph (singing lead) Ronnie, Ricky, Mike and Johnny (No Bobby this year)

I witnessed a number of powerful performances over the weekend. Charlotte’s own Anthony Hamilton really stole the show Sunday. His band turned in a powerful set of his hits with a strong gospel feel – taking the park to church on a Sunday night.

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Anthony Hamilton on the Virginia is for Lovers stage Sunday night

Natalie Cole performed a elegant set on the Dominion stage. She was preceded the incomparable Macy Gray, dressed in a feather boa and black leather rock and roll gloves.

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Natalie Cole on the Dominion Stage Sunday Night

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90’s hitmaker Joe performed on the Dominion stage Saturday night

There was so much action at this year’s festival that I could not capture it all but other performances of note: David Sanborn, Kirk and Kevin Whalum, Will Downing, Jeff Bradshaw and Friends, Rebirth Brass Band, Sweet Honey in the Rock, Carmen Lundy, and so many more. The Richmond Jazz Festival at Maymont is a can’t miss event and it’s only getting better. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention in addition to the music, the food, vendors, and overall family atmosphere is great. The Richmond Jazz Festival is just as much a family reunion as it is a mega-concert.

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Kirk Whalum warming up backstage

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T-Soul on stage with Syleena Johnson

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Jeff Bradshaw on the Dominion Stage

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RVA’s own Butcher Brown on the Virginia is for Lovers stage

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Sweet Honey in the Rock on the WestRock stage

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1 Comment

  • Colette says:

    The event was awesome! However, I disagree with the comment about the third stage. The sound from the main stage and west rock did clash at times making it difficult to enjoy the main stage performer. Great article less a few typos.

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