Hundreds of Central Florida jazz fans will come together in DeLand for the “Thin Man” Watts Jazz Fest Friday and Saturday, Oct. 18 and 19.
2019 marks the ninth edition of this annual event, which will feature six acts on two main stages between 1 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday.
Also on Saturday, DeLand’s Greater Union First Baptist Church Gospel Choir will get things started with a free concert at the Historic Volusia County Courthouse.
The public is invited to a Friday-evening kickoff party 6:30-8:30 p.m. Oct. 18, at The Table restaurant’s downstairs space, 100 E. New York Ave. This will be the last chance for fans to purchase $15 advance tickets for the Saturday Jazz Fest. Admission costs $20 on Saturday.
Ticketholders get admission to all six acts: Raisin Cake Orchestra with Linda Cole, the Thom Chambers Quartet, The Vibe Band, the Joe Gilabert Quintet, Renderglow, and Ictus.
The two main stages are the Dr. Noble "Thin Man" Watts Amphitheater at 322 S. Clara Ave., and Cafe DaVinci at 112 W. Georgia Ave. The stages are within walking distance of each other in Downtown DeLand, and pedicab rides will be offered between the stages, courtesy of DeLand Cyclery.
Just before the ticketed event starts at 1 p.m., the Greater Union Gospel Choir, directed by Dr. Stanley Whitted and accompanied by various instrumentalists, will give a free concert at noon on the north steps (Indiana Avenue side) of the Historic Volusia County Courthouse in Downtown DeLand.
After the gospel-choir performance, a New Orleans-style "second line" parade will lead the crowd to Cafe DaVinci nearby. Festival tickets and T-shirts will be available for purchase at both the kickoff party and the gospel concert.
There are two exciting new activities for Jazz Fest attendees this year. At the Jazz Fest kickoff party Friday evening, former Daytona Beach News-Journal reporter Billy Bruce will present videos featuring photos and other material Bruce and News-Journal photographer Peter Bauer gathered while interviewing Noble Watts in 1988 and 1989. An animated “Thin Man” shares his views on the blues, his career, his favorite artists and more in the interview.
The second festival addition is the Rare Record Raffle. Jerry Schafer of Groovy Records in Downtown DeLand discovered a rare sealed copy of Alligator Records’ release of Return of the Thin Man.
Schafer generously donated the record to the Jazz Fest, and it will be raffled during the festival.
The album, recorded in Sanford at Kingsnake studios in 1987, is Noble Watts at his best, and features guest artists such as Taj Mahal.
Some lucky fan will take this treasure home; $1 raffle tickets will be available during the festival, and the winning ticket will be drawn at the Noble Watts Amphitheater at 5:55 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19.
All proceeds from this year's event are dedicated to the Jazz Fest beneficiaries: the African American Museum of the Arts in DeLand, the MainStreet DeLand Association, and the Watts-Greenlee music scholarship at Daytona State College.
The “Thin Man” Watts Jazz Fest is designed with alternating start times so those attending can circulate between the two stages.
Here’s the lineup:
— On the DaVinci stage at 1 p.m., Renderglow, an Orlando-based group, will play their innovative arrangements and improvisational music.
— On the Amphitheater stage at 2 p.m., saxophonist Thom Chambers and his quartet perform smooth jazz.
— At DaVinci at 2:45 p.m., a local favorite, The Vibe Band featuring vocalist Nina Skyy, will take the stage.
— At the Amphitheater at 4 p.m., Eustis-based band Ictus plays classic and contemporary jazz.
— At DaVinci at 5 p.m., the Central Florida-based Joe Gilabert Quintet play guitarist Gilabert’s original compositions.
— At the Amphitheater at 6 p.m., the headline act will take the stage, combining the vocal panache of Linda Cole with the sublime sound of the Jacksonville-based quartet, Raisin Cake Orchestra.
An annual event in Downtown DeLand since 2011, the Jazz Fest commemorates the life and legacy of renowned saxophonist Dr. Noble "Thin Man" Watts, a DeLand native. The mission of the festival, in addition to fundraising for its three beneficiaries, is to unite the community in a shared appreciation of music and of DeLand's jazz and gospel heritage.
The 2019 Jazz Fest signature artwork was provided by Noble Watts’ daughter Natalie Brown, who owns the original drawing by illustrator Jess Rubio. The image is featured on this year's souvenir posters and T-shirts.
How to get tickets:
Jazz Fest tickets may be purchased online at www.wattsjazzfest.com.
Tickets may also be purchased at four DeLand locations: the MainStreet DeLand Association office at 100 N. Woodland Blvd.; the African American Museum at 325 S. Clara Ave.; Steve's Downtown Music at 108 S. Woodland Blvd.; and The West Volusia Beacon newspaper at 110 W. New York Ave.
After the festival, several venues in Downtown DeLand will host jazz acts for Jazz Late Night. These venues are De La Vega Wine, Tapas & Sangria, Elusive Grape, Cress Restaurant, Abbey Bar, Sidecar, and The Lounge at Artisan Downtown. Additionally, The Stockyard, west of DeLand, will host a Jazz Late Night act, as well.
The annual Jazz Fest would not be possible without its sponsors: Ken Goldberg Construction Co. LLC, Judy Thompson, Duke Energy, Calkins Electric, DeLand Breakfast Rotary, Rotary Club of Downtown DeLand, Solar-Fit, Comfort Service Inc., Conrad Realty Co., Mainstreet Community Bank, Charles Matousek, Jefferson Pendleton, Tim Ludwig Clay Art, Breyting Community Roaster, and Run 4 a Cause.
In-kind sponsors and other supporters are The West Volusia Beacon newspaper, Cafe DaVinci, Sunny’s Wine and Liquor, DeLand Cyclery, S.R. Perrott, Express Printing, and D.B. Photography & Video.