I have been going to the Long Beach Jazz festival since I was 11 years old. I can remember being dragged there against my will, resisting every minute of the 3 day concert. I couldn’t understand how listening to music that didn’t have any lyrics while baking in the searing sun was fun for anyone. But it was a tradition and my mom got up every morning of by six a.m. to stand in line and get us the all coveted space beneath the trees. She packed amazing lunches of fried chicken, pasta salads, antipasto platters, sandwiches, and any other thing you would need to stay full and buzzed the whole day.
It wasn’t until I turned 16 that I started to appreciate the festival. I’d brought my friends with me that year and it was their first time. They were intrigued by the music, the amount of people all gathered in one place, the shear joy and happiness that permeates from the crowd so thick and enveloping like the heat from the sun each year. I appreciated the jazz festival, that I knew music that most of the people in my age group didn’t even know existed. Pancho Sanchez, Hiroshima, Najee, Ramsey Lewis to name a few. The jazz festival was a staple of my childhood like christmas morning and it was then that I realized I was better for it.
These days I wake up and stand in that six a.m. line. I can’t wait to get the spot under the trees, help pack the all important festival food, and feel the heat permeating from the sun, the crowd all hot and sweltering with joy and happiness.The art, jewelry and amazing food brought in by local vendors is also such a big component in making this festival so enjoyable. Every year I can count on the most flavorful fried fish, banana pudding and peach cobbler that tastes like it came straight from your Grandmother’s kitchen. These days I am one of those adults and I watch as my little brother dreads the festival like I did, and I tell him one day you’re going to love it, and laugh when he rolls his eyes.
Here is a look at this years Long Beach Jazz festival 2014 through my eyes, the beauty that is my hometown of Long Beach California, the festival attendees that are serious about making the day comfortable and beautiful for all. I hope that anyone that has the ability to try it out one year do so and make some memories of your own…