2022 was the year! For the first time, a blues society was represented at the Morristown Jazz & Blues Festival. You guessed it, the North Jersey Blues Society represented! NJBS gives a SPECIAL THANK YOU to festival producer Don Jay Smith - to mayor Tim Dougherty - all the staff - all the volunteers - not only for producing another incredible festival in Morristown for 2022 (can't wait for 2023!! ) - but the NJBS wants to thanks everyone for their support - their friendship - during the festival. The North Jersey Blues Society eagerly looks forward to working with everyone again soon. Special Thanks to our friends - Veronica Lewis - and her amazing band - Nancy Leotta - Monnwink Music - it was such a thrill for all of us to FINALLY meet one another in person!! Special Thanks - to Walter Trout and his band - for their friendship - for all the time spent with the NJBS at the Morristown Jazz and Blues Festival.
Super Basket CD Giveaway...North Jersey Blues Society would like to thank several bands and record companies for supporting the North Jersey Blues Society by providing a HUGE amount of CDs, vinyl recordings, and merchandise - for the Super Basket CD Giveaway that was held at the Morristown Jazz and Blues Festival. We look forward to working with all of you now - reviewing your latest releases - supporting blues artists out there - and for many years to come - RUF and Ira Leslie / Betsie and Blind Raccoon Promotion and Publicity / Bruce Iglauer and Alligator Records / CatFood Records / Bob Lanza / Jersey Swamp Cats / Katie Knipp / Nancy Leotta and MoonWink Music / Jonny T-Bird and The MPs . Pictured here is the CD raffle winner, Dan Kassell -- congratulations Dan!
The festival kicked off with jazz. The first two sets, by James Langton’s New York All-Star Big Band (featuring Dan Levinson) at noon, and Frank Vignola’s Guitar Night at Birdland Band (featuring Ken Peplowski) at 2 p.m. had the crowd moving and shaking throughout the sunny afternoon on the Green in Morristown. Finishing up the afternoon's Jazz portion of the festival was the always amazing Bria Skonberg. As a trumpeter her skills are jaw-dropping. Taking the stage front and center, on numerous occasions throughout the afternoons performance, Bria blew into the heavens with an intensity that was just amazing, to say the least! As the critics say, “...a mature, versatile musician who sings and plays with confidence in any style she wants, from country to modern jazz.” - All About Jazz
“...grittily, soulfully, with a shadowy, mid-career-Lucinda-Williams swagger and growling horn… - All About Jazz
Bria's piercing high notes as she sang with the crowd had everyone cheering, standing, giving homage to the charisma flowing from the stage. You just had to be there to appreciate her explosive, set-closing “I Want to Break Free” (the Queen song). Her hard-swinging encore, “Night Time Is the Right Time”, had me swaying and swinging, wishing that I had a cold one in my hand from the Glenbrook Brewery right around the corner. First-rate band added to the extraordinary performance by Bria Skonberg, who has been part of the festival before, and, hopefully, will be back many more times in the future.
FANTASTIC to see the HUGE crowds return in full force for the 2022 Morristown Jazz and Blues Festival. Every inch of space was taken up by blankets and lawn chairs from afternoon into the late evening. Veronica Lewis, the young 19-year-old spitfire who has been creating a tsunami across the U. S. festival season throughout the summer, took the stage to kick things off for the Blues portion of the Morristown Jazz and Blues festival . A lot of folks have been following Veronica lately - Veronica's amazing videos and concert footage has been released for months now - and during the pandemic there were countless live feeds and studio appearances. Supported by a tight and rebellious group of sax, guitar, and drums, the energy up of that stage was just electrifying! Veronica pounded those 88's with a ferocity seldom seen since the days of Little Richard and Katie Webster ( would love to see Veronica work alongside Mitch Woods and Marcia Ball one day). Veronica, at the ripe young age of 19, has the untamed - energy of those early rock n' roll icons. Boogie woogie, rhythm and blues , roots-rock, - " It's 100% Veronica Lewis". Crowd loved the performances, cheering, clapping, and, of course , dancing - a frenzied dance party broke out in front of the stage - and that excitement was like a hell fire that poured out across the Morristown Green, igniting boogie woogie madness into the nearby streets . What a show! American Songwriter has called Veronica - " Veronica Lewis is one of the MOST PROMISING torchbearers of American Rock n' Roll". Yes, Veronica is 19 years old , recently graduated high school, and already has made a tremendous impact on the music scene - Morristown Rocked!! And the dancing continued later as Walter Trout took the stage. It was something to see: folks even dancing on South Street as the bands rocked the Morristown Green, crowds lining the sidewalks doing their second-line best.
Walter Trout, the legendary guitar-slinger, who has his life turned upside down in recent years, has certainly lived the blues life . Taking the stage in Morristown - with his celebrated bandmates - John Avila, bass ; Teddy " Zig Zag " Andreadis, keys; Michael Leasure, drums - Walter fired up the waiting crowd with his explosive and incendiary guitar solos. However , the man who survived hepatitis and a new liver transplant, hunkered down during the pandemic, had other health issues over the years, surprised the legions of fans assembled on the Green , with a sympathetic tenderness that poured into the crowd . Walter talked about his health issues, the new album "Ride" and his escape from the traumatic New Jersey childhood, the craziness of the pandemic with so many folks dead and gone . There was enormous passion up on that stage in Morristown that connected with his enraptured and mesmerized audience. "Ride " is Walter Trout's 30th studio release and it is amazing! Singer-guitarist Jackson Taylor Lee guested on several songs cheered on by the screams, cheers, and yells from the huge crowd. Walter and his bandmates rocked out the Morristown Green, each member of the team electrifying all to themselves, each one feeding off the energy of the other. Just an incredible stage show from beginning to end!
Below are some photos from the festival - photo credits to Jack Grassa and John Muller.
A couple of videos: