(Photo courtesy of Salem Creative)
Where to begin when describing Salem –a city rich in history, infamous for its 17th century witch trials and regaled for its 19th century maritime history. A city of charming beauty, with an historic waterfront and world-renowned museums and cultural institutions.
Today, as the annual Salem Jazz and Soul Festival celebrates its 10th anniversary as one of the region’s most popular outdoor jazz festivals, we can confidently add jazz as another reason to visit Salem. Here is the full performance schedule.
Co-founders Larry Claflin, Jr. and Henley Douglas, Jr. launched the festival in 2006 after the idea had been kicking around town for several years. They created a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization with a straightforward mission: to produce free concerts while supporting music education on the North Shore.
A decade later, the Salem Jazz and Soul Festival is thriving, and so are ancillary programs that grew out of the festival, including a series of jazz concerts at Derby Square on the second Saturday of each month, in partnership with the Berklee College of Music.
Thaddeus Hogarth, Associate Professor of Guitar at Berklee, enlists the musicians who perform. The two-hour concerts include on-stage interviews with the musicians, who talk freely about their experience at Berklee and their love of music. Many of them are international students.
The festival is run by a dedicated, volunteer-based Board of Directors, and one of the projects they are particularly proud of is the SJSF music education programs that benefit the North Shore area.
“We support school music programs, group homes and after-school music programs,” Claflin says. “We also cover tuition for some teens to attend a local jazz and recording camp. And we run a monthly workshop called MusicKidz at 135 Lafayette Street Apartments.”
SJSF also works in conjunction with Northeast Arc, which provides lifelong support for people with disabilities.
“Through a grant, we work with Northeast Arc to produce a workshop for kids on the autism spectrum. Music therapists are hired to teach the children about music and help them each to produce and record a song.”
This year’s Salem Jazz and Soul Festival takes place on August 20- 21 along the sandy shores of the Salem Willows, a park where jazz giants like Duke Ellington and other big bands performed in the 1920s.
“Since our concerts are free it’s difficult to track audiences, but we know — anecdotally — that people travel from around New England to attend our festival, some coming from as far as New
York and Pennsylvania.”
With a decade of hard work, great music and community service, what is next for the festival organizers?
“We want to perfect what we have done so far,” Claflin says, “to add more educational components, and raise more money to further music education on the North Shore.”
For more information about visiting Salem, go to Salem.org.
To find out more about Massachusetts, visit MassVacation.com.