Three years ago, Florence resident and City Councilor Joshua Greene was introduced to the Siletz Bay Music Festival — a small celebration of music and education held each year in Lincoln City.
“Each time I attended, I came away impressed with the passion and spirit on display with each performance,” said Greene. “My relationship with the festival grew and I thought about how fantastic it would be to bring some of these world-class musicians to the Florence Events Center (FEC).”
Greene extended an invitation to Siletz Bay Artistic Director Yaacov Bergman and some members of the organizing board.
“After a tour of the FEC, they became excited by the possibility of the musicians performing in a theater setting,” Greene said, explaining how the Siltez Bay Music Festival is on a flat floor as opposed to a theater.
“The opportunity to play in a formal theater with real acoustics became an exciting prospect,” said Greene.
With the support of the Siletz Bay Music Festival, Greene pursued the creation of an annual event in Florence. Taking advantage of the fact that the group of world-class musicians would already be on the Oregon Coast, Greene spearheaded the establishment of a sister festival for Florence, the Siuslaw Jam — the first of which will be held July 7 and 8 at the FEC.
In addition to music, comedian Pete Barbutti, known for his musical comedy act and a frequent guest of The Tonight Show, will also be performing during each night’s festivities.
There will also be a free matinee concert for young people and families on July 8 at 2 p.m. Hosted by Pete Barbutti, Clairdee and Ken Peplowski, musicians will give the audience an easy and fun introduction to jazz, with young musicians encouraged to bring their instruments to participate in a jam session.
Saturday’s performance will be on the Great American Songbook and jazz, as well as tributes to Ella Fitzgerald, Thelonious Monk, Dizzy Gillespie and many more.
On July 7, Barbutti will open the show with a performance of his timeless comedy.
The second half of the evening will be one-of-a-kind experience — a spontaneous evening of song and storytelling. Well-traveled, world-class musicians will share their stories and tour experiences, mixing in music and fun.
Peplowski and friends have played all over the world with some of the greatest musicians to grace a stage. A rare chance to get to know these talented performers.
It will be a free-wheeling evening of entertainment featuring musicians playing selections from the songbooks of Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and Lena Horne in addition to well-known jazz favorites “Night In Tunisia,” “Round Midnight,” “The Duke,” and “Airmail Special.”
Every combination for the music enthusiast, from solo piano to duets, trios, quartets, quintets, all in the classic Norman Granz “Jazz At The Philharmonic” vibe.
The evening will also include 100th anniversary birthday tributes to Ella Fitzgerald, Thelonious Monk, Dizzy Gillespie, Dick Hyman, Duke Ellington, Lena Horne and many other Jazz Greats.
Among the performers will be Siletz Bay Artistic Director and conductor Bergman, who is currently the Musical Director and Conductor of the Walla Walla Symphony, the Portland Chamber Orchestra and was previously the Musical Director of the Colorado Springs Symphony, the New York Heritage Chamber Orchestra, and the 92nd St. Y Symphonic Workshop Orchestra in New York City.
Also performing will be recording and international touring artist Clairdee. Her lustrous voice, soulful delivery and scene-stealing charisma, have highlighted performances with acclaimed instrumentalists including Dick Hyman, Bucky Pizzarelli, Boz Scaggs, Ken Peplowski, Cyrus Chestnut and Houston Person.
In addition to headlining with her world-class ensemble, Clairdee performs with symphony pops orchestras and big bands and has opened for numerous artists as diverse as David Sanborn, the Count Basie Orchestra, Johnny Mathis and Etta James.
Ticket prices are $30 each evening, with performances beginning at 7 p.m., or $50 for both evenings. Call the FEC at 541-997-1994 for tickets.