Red Bank Jazz & Blues Festival
|Red Bank Jazz & Blues Festival|
Ray Rodriguez y Swing Sabroso perform on the Marina Stage, June 2005
|Location(s)||Red Bank, New Jersey|
|Website||Jersey Shore Jazz & Blues Festival 2011|
The Red Bank Jazz & Blues Festival, also sometimes known as Red Bank Riverfest, was a music festival that took place the first weekend in June each year in Red Bank, New Jersey. Sited at Marine Park along the Navesink River, the festival was in operation between 1987 and 2016. Organized during some of this time by the non-profit Jersey Shore Jazz & Blues Foundation, the festival typically ran from Friday late afternoon through Sunday late afternoon, and according to varying estimates attracted some 80,000 to 150,000 people over the three days. It was said to be the largest free event of its kind in the Northeast United States.
Music was presented on the main Marina Stage as well as the smaller Harbor Experience or Riverfront Stage. Beginning in the late 2000s, a third stage showcased local and youth artists. Numerous vendors of foods and wares surrounded the music area, which was a short stroll from Red Bank's Broad Street center. The event grew out of, and then somewhat co-existed with, the International Food Festival, which had been in operation since around 1980 with the purpose of showcasing the efforts of local restaurants while featuring some music as well.
In 2007, the festival was sponsored by Washington Mutual; area smooth jazz radio station CD 101.9 always had a presence as well. In 2008, the festival lacked a title sponsor for the first time since 2003; organizers said the festival's existence was in financial jeopardy for 2009. The festival did go forward in 2009 despite the ongoing late 2000s recession and even further diminished sponsorship, with organizers stressing the need for attendees to contribute and some second stage performers foregoing being paid. Due to construction in Marine Park, the 2010 festival relocated inland to Monmouth Park under the name Jersey Shore Jazz & Blues Festival.
For 2011, the Red Bank Riverfest reclaimed its old spot in the first weekend of June in the park, featuring local, often rock-oriented bands, while the Jersey Shore Jazz & Blues Festival scheduled itself for single days each in Middletown, Long Branch, and Asbury Park across July, August, and September. Relations between the two organizations had been poor for a while, and the two events continued to go their separate ways over the next few years.
As of 2017, however, Riverfest stopped happening, due its organizers said to costs having become prohibitive.
Typical headlining acts for the Festival included John Pizzarelli (2010), Houston Person (2009), Big Bill Morganfield (2007), Eddie Palmieri (2005), Rod Piazza and the Mighty Flyers (2002), and Bernie Worrell and the Woo Warriers (1999).
- "Jazz fest kicks off summer", Asbury Park Press, May 31, 2007.
- John Burton. "Red Bank Riverfest Dries Up", The Two Rivers Times, May 13, 2017.
- Mike Barris. "Festival has the blues", Asbury Park Press, May 25, 2008.
- Karen DeMasters. "Music as Close as Boards or the Beach", The New York Times, May 14, 2000.
- Larry Higgs. "Red Bank jazz festival begins Friday", Asbury Park Press, June 3, 2009.
- Carol Gorga Williams. "Red Bank jazz and blues fest gets new name, home", Asbury Park Press, June 3, 2010.
- Dustin Racioppi. "Jazz & Blues Fest Busts Itself in Three", RedBankGreen.com, May 24, 2011
- Press release. "Historic Jazz Festival at New Locations", Atlantic Highlands Herald, May 23, 2011.