It was so frustrating last year when two of my favorite jazz festivals collided - and all because the end of June and start of July fell on the same weekend! As an Iowa City native, I have always taken great pride in my hometown's festival, at least since I stumbled upon it about ten years ago during a family visit. Now drawing around 25,000 on the first weekend of July, ICJF draws a bigger line-up every year. Meanwhile, up north in the Twin Cities, the hot summer" jazz festival has similarly been growing in attendees and national acts, centered around Mears Park in St Paul on the last weekend of June. Unfortunately in 2012, the TCJF dates were June 29-30. The ICJF dates were June 29-July 1. No choice - after all, I am based in the Twin Cities (for three times as many years as I lived in Iowa City) and handle photography for TCJF. And it was tempting to just drive down to Iowa City on Sunday to hear the Paul Motian tribute band with Matt Wilson and a stellar cast. Maybe a few more energetic souls from the Twin Cities did just that.
No problem in 2013. The Twin Cities Jazz Festival runs June 28-29. The Iowa City Jazz Festival runs July 5-7, one of the few times in its history that the full festival follows the 4th of July. I suspect fireworks will nevertheless be part of that Saturday night's program. While we are awaiting the Twin Cities line-up, I've been cleared to release the list of headliners in Iowa City; schedule will follow soon. And you don't want to miss this! It's only a 5-hour drive south, four-lane all the way. You have a week between festivals to rest up before you enjoy:
Dr. Lonnie Smith
Christian Scott Quintet
J.D. Allen Trio
Philip Dizack Quartet
Charlie Hunter & Scott Amendola
Fred Hersch Trio (closing set Sunday night)
And as always, Iowa City's side stages, which only run in-between the main stage sets, will include the best of regional, college and youth ensembles, and an international array of concessions. Like the Twin Cities Festival, it's all free.
Two consecutive weekends of great (and free) jazz for us here in the Upper Midwest. Surely that warrants fireworks.