This is no secret to anyone that reads this blog regularly – I love the Richmond Jazz Festival at Maymont. Over the years, as a writer for this blog and other media outlets, I’ve been able to cover the Richmond Jazz Festival and it’s consistently one of the best experiences of the summer. Since I’ve been covering the Jazz Festival, I’ve seen some of my favorite artists and groups: Lauryn Hill, New Edition, Macy Gray, the late/great Natalie Cole, Trombone Shorty, Robert Glasper, Dr. John, Michael McDonald, Terence Blanchard, Jill Scott, and more.
This year’s festival kicks off tonight, simultaneously, at Hardywood and the VMFA, then move to the Hippodrome tomorrow night, and concludes this weekend at Maymont. The 2016 Festival has a star-studded line-up, headlined by The Roots, Herbie Hancock, Esperanza Spalding, Morris Day and the Time, Al Jarreau, Vanessa Williams, Tamia, Wyclef and more. The line-up, like most “jazz” festivals these days, represents much more than just jazz music, it stretches to blues, funk, soul, R&B, hip-hop, even bluegrass. While there are many reasons to be at this year’s Jazz Festival, I’ve broken my list down to 5. Here are my to 5 reasons for going to this year’s Richmond Jazz Festival and the reason why I may get arrested:
1: Morris Day and the Time (Sunday Night – Dominion Stage): I might as well start with the finale. I understand that most of you think that the movie Purple Rain stars the late/great musician Prince Rogers Nelson (RIP). Well, in the Cheatham household it was Purple Rain staring the amazing Morris Day and his hilarious sidekick Jerome. Let’s face it, Morris Day was the coolest thing in that movie. Most people weren’t even rooting for Prince. Prince was way too emotional in 1984. Morris was flyer, funnier, and yes, his songs – in the movie – we’re better. If you doubt my assessment, it’s a free country, you have the right to corner me at the Dominion Stage Sunday night and tell me why I’m wrong, but I doubt you will. The last time Morris Day was in Richmond was the 2nd Street Festival on October 5, 2013. I remember that day well because I was not at the 2nd Street Festival that day – though I tried.. My wife thought it was more important that we got married that day, I still think we could have done both.
2: The Roots (Sunday Night – VA is for Lovers Stage): I’m not a fan of dueling finales, especially when I want to see both acts, but if you do have dueling finales, you can’t do much better than The Roots crew on one stage and Morris on the other. The Roots are amazing live. Black Thought is one of the most underrated MCs of all time. The Roots give you a new show and a treat every time they hit the stage. You can’t go wrong with the Roots crew.
One of the most underrated MCs of all-time, Black Thought of The Roots
3: And the reason I may get arrested: Esperanza Spalding (Saturday Night – VA is for Lovers Stage): Let me be clear, stalking is a bad thing and I don’t encourage it in any way. With that said, the rate that I will be closely monitoring the moves of Ms. Spalding, for the sake of journalism, may raise the eyebrows of the Jazz Fest security. The 31-year-old Grammy Award winner is as talented as she is fine. No doubt you don’t want to miss her at the Festival and if you see her – chances are you will see me…you know reporting.
Sometimes you gotta to do what you gotta do – detailed reporting on Esperanza coming soon.
4: Arrested Development followed by Wyclef Jean (Saturday Night – Dominion Stage): If you just want to let your hair down and party, the Dominion Stage Saturday night is where you need to be. The vibe you’re going to get from Arrested Development and then Wyclef is going to be amazing – trust me. If you’ve never seen Wyclef live, you may be thinking, he doesn’t have enough solo songs to keep a party rocking. Well, you’re sort of right about his solo song catalogue but extremely wrong on his ability to rock a party. Wyclef does a lot of interaction and DJing during his live sets. His set may be the surprise of the entire Festival.
5. Everything Else: So I listed just a few of the performances I want to see this weekend, but the Jazz Festival is a full festival in every way. You don’t want to miss the people, the food, the vendors the pageantry of the entire event. The Richmond Jazz Festival has one of the best atmospheres of any event in Richmond. And the diversity and welcoming spirit of the crowd makes everyone feel like family. It’s a great show, you don’t want to miss it. Keep up with all the latest details at: https://jazzatmaymont.com/ – See you there. #WESEEIT @CheatsMovement