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Ten full days of jazz

The Gibsons Landing Jazz Festival started as a one-day festival on a Saturday afternoon in Dougall Park in Gibsons Landing in 1995.

The Gibsons Landing Jazz Festival started as a one-day festival on a Saturday afternoon in Dougall Park in Gibsons Landing in 1995.

Here we are 10 years later with a festival including 10 full days of live music filling restaurants, parks and venues throughout Gibsons and Roberts Creek, June 3 to 12.

As a community operated festival, we love to showcase a diverse array of outstanding local and touring musicians with something for the whole family's enjoyment.

Leading up to the festival weekend is a full week of live music in restaurants and other venues around Gibsons. One highlight is a jazz film night in collaboration with the Sunshine Coast Film Society. This year's film is Living in a Great Big Way, a documentary celebrating the life of dancer Jeni LeGon, the first black woman performer to sign a contract with a major Hollywood studio.

Much to our delight, LeGon, now in her 80s, will be in attendance and perform with the Cedar Groove Quartet. She will also recount her amazing life singing and dancing with Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway and many other jazz luminaries. The main festival weekend heats up on Friday, June 10, at The Club in Gibsons, with the gypsy jazz stylings of The Hot Club of Mars, featuring former Coaster Michael Dunn.

The big outdoor festival in Dougall Park on Saturday, June 11, begins at noon and fills the air with music until 6 p.m. This year, along with celebrating the festival's 10th anniversary, a very special guest band from Holland - Luluk Purwanto & the Helsdingen Trio - will pay tribute to Canadian veterans and the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands.

Gibsons has been selected as one of the stops on their cross-Canada Tulips 2005 tour, with a concert and a gift of 600 tulip bulbs to the Town of Gibsons as a thank you to Canadians for providing a safe haven for members of the Dutch Royal Family in Ottawa and the important role of the Canadian Army. The band is touring with a 40-foot stage bus totally covered in tulips, which opens into its own stage complete with grand piano, drums, sound and lights.

For the festival opening, Berni G and The 69ers will sing jazz tunes from the war era. (Many of them are veterans themselves; musicians have to be 69 years young to join the group!)

Next up is Luci Herder and Friends from the Sunshine Coast, followed by the fabulous the Bill Coon Quartet from Vancouver, then the Dutch group Luluk Purwanto & the Helsdingen Trio and local resident Celso Machado playing his magical style of Brazilian rhythms joined by multi-instrumentalist Estanislau Gubiotti. Closing the day is Brass Roots, a jazz brass band with some of Vancouver's finest players. They played at the very first Gibsons Landing Jazz Festival and promise some high energy dancing tunes to celebrate.

This wonderful day in the park also includes Jean-Pierre Makosso's Village with his dance and drum troupe of kids who just love to play music, the MythMaker Stiltwalkers, a craft market, a kids' ukelele making workshop, lots of good food, plenty of surprises and four big tents to cover the audience for all kinds of weather. It's a great place to bring the family; kids 12 and under are free.

Saturday night is the time to get out your dancing shoes and get down and funky with the hot, hot 10-piece band Soulstream at Roberts Creek Hall, or swirl your partner on the more elegant dance floor of The Club in Gibsons to the big band sounds of the Creek Big Band.

Sunday morning, join us for jazz brunch at Café New Orleans with the smooth jazz tunes of Glenda Rae's Acoustic Groove, featuring Michael Taylor and Tony Chamberlist, plus delicious music and tasty treats. Two years ago, Rae wowed the festival, and together with Taylor's great voice, they are sure to please!

Sunday afternoon is a free concert in Winegarden Park featuring three great local bands: MG2M, Definitely Divas and the Bayou Dixieland Jazz Band. The rhythm group The Drumheads will entertain at the breaks and the Gibsons Sunday Market in Holland Park is open on the street above.

Over the years we've seen the value the festival adds to the arts and culture of the area - it gives exposure for local talent, provides venues to gain performing experience and gives small financial rewards for years of dedication to live music.

The whole 10 days are produced and run by volunteers in the community who love coming back every year to keep the Gibsons Landing Jazz Festival a fun and family event.