It’s funny how memory works, and it’s even more interesting how circumstance plays into that memory.
One of the first music-related entries on this blog, way back in 2010, when I was still getting my music-business feet wet, one of the entries I made was about my first trip to a major jazz festival. And, frankly, the granddaddy of all jazz fests in the contemporary jazz genre is none other than Berks Jazz Fest, which is in Reading, PA.
I remember my trip up there. 2010. My friend was covering for me at my job back at the First CPA Firm. I put my job on the line and asked my then-boss for the weekend in order to get up there. Big jam session, people I’ve not seen for a while, people I wanted to see and meet again – this was the year following the All Star Cruise (Smooth Music Cruise by any other name) and the Jammin’ in Jamaica endeavor. So I’ve done cruise events, I’ve done land getaways, but I’ve never done a big jazz festival.
My boss gave me the time, even though Berks has a history of being at the same time as peak tax season. This fest is what traditionally kicks off the festival season around the country, and for two weeks, there is nothing but music, music, and more music.
I was floored when I got there. Cruises are one thing, but a festival of this magnitude is completely another. I’ve never seen anything like it at the time, and this was well before I got the big pro-level camera. So all I could do was drink it in the old-school way, of course. And that’s when I saw Matt Marshak and Oli Silk for the first time as well… Finale was Boney James. Of course, that one I remember. My little point-and-shoot did come out to play, and there was this one shot I took of Boney James against a completely fuschia backlight effect… I still remember that pic, and while it wasn’t what made me say, “I should do concert photos”, it definitely affirmed for me that I was very right in calling this music my home.
It’s now five years since I’ve been to Berks, and this time, the second weekend of Berks falls right outside of tax season. As in, April 16th.
And I’m coming back.
This time, though, it’s different, but in a lot of ways, it still feels like I’m coming home. It’s been five years since I’ve been there last , and those five years have been game-changing in many a way. The lineup, consistently a stellar example of How To Put On A Jazz Fest, is doubly excellent this year. And of course, one huge major crucial difference: this time, it’s with my big beautiful camera rig.
It still makes me smile and get all excited, like I got excited at 24 about packing up and running off up there, but that was so, so, so worth it then, and there is something kinda special about coming back, after a five-year absence, to a tiny little ghost-town that, for nigh on two and a half weeks, gets filled to the brim with music. There’s something really great about having this one thing that makes me smile from ear to ear, even if it means (uggh) driving.
Berks Jazz Fest, here I come!